OpenAire Takes Richmond Swim Center to New Heights

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Canadian-based firm adds a soaring retractable roof to Richmond’s newly renovated public pool

As is typical with many indoor aquatic venues, the Richmond Swim Center in Richmond, California suffered extensive roof damage after years of operation due to the moist aquatic atmosphere caused by the constant evaporation of pool water.  After being closed for repairs for over a year, the Richmond Swim Center is welcoming local residents to a better-than-ever swimming experience, thanks in part to an innovative aluminum framed retractable roof, designed and installed by OpenAire. This expansive double-slope polycarbonate glazed roof structure measures 72 feet by 115 feet and rises gracefully over the pool’s newly renovated curved beams. The design features a total of 16 operable roof sliders, allowing an abundance of natural light and fresh air into the pool area in warm weather, making the pool an open, outdoor body of water. In cold or inclement weather, the panels close at the touch of a button, still providing natural light and letting visitors enjoy the feeling of an outdoor pool any time of year.

This bright and inviting space is the result of a creative collaboration between the City of Richmond’s architect, Mark Albertson of Architects-MA, and OpenAire. After the original Richmond Swim Center was closed for renovations in 2014, the building’s four large glue-laminated wooden rafters were reshaped from straight double-slope beams into seamlessly curving 114-foot arches that align with the existing masonry walls every 24 feet. OpenAire designed a huge double-slope structure to form the roof above these new rafters. While the laminated beams and OpenAire’s retractable roof appear to connect with each other continuously, the polycarbonate glazed roof free-spans 72 feet over the pool resting only on the tangent points of the beams.  The wide, glazed gable ends sit atop the existing supporting walls, resulting in a brilliant design that combines the old with the new seamlessly.

“We’re very pleased to bring this innovative design to the Richmond community,” says Mark Albertine, President and CEO of OpenAire, “Our engineering and design teams created a modern environment with the new retractable roof above and the rustic original building beneath, and the result is fantastic. It’s an attractive space that will appeal to guests while generating major long-term savings for the pool’s operators.”

OpenAire designed the skylight with durability and efficiency in mind. The lightweight aluminum frame supporting the structure is corrosion proof and vented to prevent damage from the chlorine and other pool chemicals in the air beneath. The sliding bay panels also provide ventilation and sunlight in fair weather, reducing the need for air conditioning, humidity control, and lighting by approximately 27% compared to traditional structures. This combination of vibrant architecture and practical design will make the Richmond Swim Center a great addition to OpenAire’s large portfolio of aquatic enclosures, as well as an active part of the Richmond community.