IES takes great pride in our structures and enjoys the opportunity for the structure to be expressed as part of the overall experience of the building. The new Southwest ISD Aquatics Center is one of our buildings where the structure is architecturally expressed. We reached out to Shawn Bacon, Principal, at Marmon Mok Architecture to discuss design elements of the building and if the structure is achieving the intended experience.

On Sports and Recreation Center type projects, we have noticed that Marmon Mok often expresses the structure as part of the building aesthetic.  What is your philosophy regarding the use of structural as part of the building aesthetic?

Indoor sports facilities (courts, fields, tracks, rinks) require column free playing and spectator areas which requires large structural trusses to span the required distances.  These large trusses, with their functional depth and geometry, offer the opportunity to add to the architectural expression, both exterior and interior.  We believe the expression of the structure in the design is important to the clarity of the building form to help orient the patron and express the functionality of the design.  The architectural form is best when it is inspirational, organized and functionally efficient.  At the SWISD Natatorium, the design uses sloped bowstring trusses elevated on one end to give interior space over elevated seating, and positioned to allow the exterior curved side to face the predominant southeast breezes facilitating the Venturi effect to draw air through this natural ventilated building, which can be open on two sides below the ends of the trusses.  The bow string truss design adds depth to the truss in the middle where it is needed, and shallows the truss depth on the ends, for efficiency, where depth is not required.

On the SWISD Aquatics Center, bowstring joists with long span deck and bowstring joists with z-purlins and translucent panels were used to define the high, barrel vault, roof volume over the competition pool and instructional pool.  This roof is currently under construction.  How is it coming and is the structure achieving the desired aesthetic appearance?

Currently, all primary and secondary structural steel associated with the high, barrel vault roof, have been erected.  The long span decking has been installed and the translucent panels are soon to follow.  The aesthetic and function of the structure is proving to be everything we envisioned – exterior and interior. 

Also, on the SWISD Aquatic Center, the steel frame is exposed at the perimeter of the public spaces.  The use of Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel was applied at the connections in this area.  How is this part of the project coming along and is it achieving the desired aesthetic appearance?

Until all the exterior components are installed, the desired appearance will not be fully confirmed, but it is looking good so far.

Owner:  Southwest Independent School District

Architect:  Marmon Mok Architecture

Structural Consultant:  IES

Aquatics Consultant:  Counsilman-Hunsaker

MEP Consultant:  MEP Engineering

Civil:  Pape Dawson

Contractor:  Joeris General Contractors

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