Welcome to the Dream Designs issue of Aquatics International. This is my second year overseeing this issue and, once again, I’ve learned an important lesson about the facilities you see every day.

We think and write about facilities all year, but having the opportunity to really delve into 10 of them for a single issue is almost guaranteed to bring new insights.

This year was no exception. In looking at each of the facilities — some of the best in the world — it became abundantly clear that design has reached a new level. This was no more apparent than in this year’s crop of leisure pools and family aquatics centers. In the past, I’ve reported on the migration away from simple community pools toward these miniature waterparks and, judging from this year’s Dream Designs entrants, that transition is complete. For starters, all the entrants did an amazing job fulfilling the most important mission of an aquatics facility — to meet the needs of its community, from toddlers becoming familiar with the sensation of being immersed in water to dedicated competitive swimmers. These designers found creative ways to fit more features than you’d expect in less space than you’d want. Often, this happened within budget constraints and, in many cases, while addressing the desire to save energy.

This category made such an impressive showing that it ended up representing fully half of this year’s 10 Dream Designs winners — seven of which are found on these pages, the other three on www.aquaticsintl.com.

But this crop of honorees also has another quality that made the experience of profiling them truly revelatory. They are stunning.

Designers are now accomplishing all the practical goals of aquatics while creating a thing of beauty. This isn’t easy, given the heft of play features, materials restrictions and the multitude of code requirements. But here we showcase facilities that feature clean lines and materials, honor local history, and, in one case, even pay tribute to an architectural icon. And it’s all accomplished elegantly.

We see the same dedication to the aesthetic in the waterparks, hotel/motel pools and sprayparks that we honor here and online.

There is form in function.