Huntsville Aquatics Center Wins 2017 Facility of the Year

February 2, 2018


The Huntsville Aquatics Center was honored with the 2017 Facility of the Year award by the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) during a recognition dinner on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in Tuscaloosa.

ARPA recognizes and honors individuals, groups, programs, facilities and agencies each year who have rendered outstanding service to the field of parks and recreation. The awards committee of ARPA is responsible for studying the qualifications of each individual, group, facility, agency or program nominated using criteria established by the ARPA Board of Directors, and then selects the most deserving nominees.

The purpose of this award is to recognize and honor public parks and recreation agencies within the state for outstanding and unique achievements in the design and development of park and recreation facilities. This award is for either new construction or renovation of an existing facility within the past five years.

Huntsville Aquatics Center

The Aquatics Center project combined an existing 50-meter swimming pool in the 50-year-old Brahan Spark Natatorium with two new swimming pools to create one of the largest indoor aquatics complexes in the United States.

While the existing 50-meter pool was still functional, the overall facility was dated, with a lack of amenities, spectator space and no air conditioning. The project added another 50-meter competition pool and a 25-yard warmer water pool for therapy and swim instruction. The design connected the three pools with a common entrance, locker facilities and support spaces.

The principal objective was to create a connected venue capable of supporting large regional swim meets. Situated in Brahan Spring Park, adjacent to a lake, the site created the opportunity to take advantage of park and water views for the 1,500-seat grandstand of the competition pool.

Architectural design for the Huntsville Aquatics Center (previously the Brahan Spring Park Natatorium) with Nola VanPeursem Architects began in January 2015. The firm worked to address a long wish list of amenities desired by users and produced a plan that is high-tech and beautiful.

Community and Economic Impact

The Huntsville Aquatics Center is home to the Huntsville Swim Association, group classes, swim lessons, lap swim and more. The new facility has allowed local teams and individual swimmers to have more time and space for their respective workouts.

The Aquatics Center has hosted numerous meets since the Competition Pool’s opening in 2017, including the City Swim Meet, Groundhog Meet and Southeastern Long Course.

The Huntsville Sports Commission calculated that the Southeastern Long Course in July had an economic impact of $1,490,000. The City is excited to host the Southeastern Short Course this February.


Design and Construction Team: City of Huntsville, Nola|VanPeursem Architects, P.C. , Bostick Landscape Architects, Johnson & Associates, PEC Structural Engineering, Mims Engineering, Jack R. Morgan Engineering and Counsilman-Hunsaker


Photo credit: Pat Hood