Mission Valley YMCA, San Diego, CA

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The Mission Valley YMCA, located near San Diego in Southern California, was looking for a solution that would attract area residents to their facility, boost their community profile, and provide a warm, inviting swim environment that could be enjoyed year-round by members of all ages.

Southern California may be warm and sunny on summer days, but in winter–and even after sundown in summer–the air temperature can fluctuate by a bone-chilling 20 degrees. The cold environment made swimming unappealing to most users. Seniors, who benefit from gentle aquatic workouts and are a major user group, found the temperature a significant deterrent.

"If they’re standing in the water, trying to do exercises, the weather is a big issue," says Dick Webster, Mission Valley’s Executive Director.

The YMCA needed an enclosure that could keep the warmth in–but still provide an open air experience on sunny summer days.

An additional challenge was the fact that their existing pool was hidden be- hind large walls–most people didn’t even know it was there.


OpenAire designed and built a retractable roof enclosure for the pool that allows the Mission Valley YMCA to provide ideal swim conditions every day, no matter what the weather. The roof and walls can stay open most of the time to provide an inviting outdoor pool environment. However, when rain or cold temperatures mean a less than perfect swim climate, the roof and walls can be closed to create a warm, bright, beautiful space.

The maintenance-free aluminum 76' 6" x 110' enclosure features 14 bays and 10' high sidewalls, with an adjustable roof that can completely re- tract over five of the six lanes. The operable roof is glazed, with clear 1" (25mm), five-walled polycarbonate panels. The vertical areas are glazed with 1" (25mm) insulating glass, mostly in the form of sliding glass doors, and an 8' glass wind screen around the perimeter of the outdoor pool keeps the wind out. OpenAire was able to work with the existing building using custom design elements. Because the YMCA structure could not have withstood the weight of the enclosure, OpenAire designed custom tie rods to contain the thrust.

"Not only did we get the increased usage, but we got a million dollars worth of marketing," said a board member. "At night, it lights up like a beacon."


Increased Revenue

Year-round use of the facility has improved dramatically, and with it, so have their revenues. Now that members can count on a pleasant experience ev- ery time, they are swimming more often. So no matter what the weather, they get the benefit of great aquatic and fitness programs and facilities all year round.

"Prior to covering the pool, we had very little winter usage, and only limited evening usage," says Dick Webster. "Our aquatic income has increased more than 40% since adding the cover, and has made a big difference to our YMCA and to the people in our community."

Increased Awareness

The tremendous aesthetic appeal of the building has people sitting up and taking notice.

"Not only did we get the increased usage, but we got a million dollars worth of marketing," said a board member."At night, it lights up like a beacon."

Webster considers it a welcoming, appealing place that draws people in, and says it's a big marketing success. When the community sees it, they immediately know what's available to them. It has become a tremendous source of pride for members and the community.

Everyone is pleased with the result. So pleased, in fact, that the Toby Wells YMCA, another facility in the San Diego area, has enclosed their pool in a similar OpenAire enclosure.

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