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Our World-Class Retractable Roof Projects

OpenAire's retractable roof over the pool at Toronto's Cricket Club in Ontario.OpenAire has over 1,000 completed retractable roof design and installation projects. As we have accomplished these diverse assignments, it has been very gratifying to receive feedback detailing how our work has helped our clients to improve their facilities and service offering, thereby increasing revenue. To provide a detailed picture of how our retractable roof systems help to upgrade and empower the businesses we serve, we present three case studies from our growing portfolio. They are quite different in their goals and details, but all demonstrate how our clients continue to reap the benefits of retractable roof systems long after the installation is complete.

Aqua Sferra Waterpark, Donetsk, Ukraine 

Aqua Sferra has the distinction of being the largest free-standing, aluminum-domed waterpark anywhere in the world. Prior to its opening in 2012, OpenAire was commissioned to design and construct the massive translucent dome that spans across the entirety of the park’s attractions, complete with a retractable roof system that opens the park up to the outside air in the warmer months and closes to shelter visitors when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

The dome features four retractable, triangular roof panels measuring 24,4 m (80’) both at the base and along the arch. These giant panels ride on 432 wheels over 587 m (1926’) of track to open or close, a process that takes less than ten minutes. No fewer than 16 motors power the movements of the retractable panels.

Aqua Sferra is something of an institution in its home city of Donetsk. It is regarded by Donetsk’s citizens as much more than just an entertainment complex. It is a cultural and architectural landmark, a proud feature of the city’s skyline. Aqua Sferra has become such an attraction for locals and tourists alike, that it has almost never operated at less than full capacity since the day it opened in December 2012. It receives up to 2,000 guests per day and within any given three-hour operational period, it hosts around 550 people.  

Aqua Sferra’s owner, Olga Dorofeieva says of her park, “Since our opening, regular and repeat visitors to Aqua Sferra Waterpark have never failed to comment on the special feeling they get inside the dome. It is unlike any other structure they have experienced and adds to their enjoyment of the waterpark.”

As with all OpenAire roofs, the structure is completely maintenance-free. The aluminum structure never needs even so much as a new coat of paint. Dorofeieva and her team also make great savings on their energy costs, thanks to the functioning of the retractable roof. When the dome is open, it naturally exhausts warm air and humidity, reducing the need for mechanical dehumidification. This creates energy savings of up to 27 percent over more traditional structures. When the dome is closed, it generates warming solar gain that transfers the heat of the sun into the structure, and then keeps it there. This reduces the need for heating and also reduces lighting requirements during the day.

With Aqua Sferra, OpenAire has helped to create not only a landmark, but also a thriving public entertainment facility. When it comes to retractable roofs for waterparks, Aqua Sferra is undoubtedly one of the more prominent jewels in the OpenAire crown.

Mission Valley YMCA, San Diego, CA

Retractable roofs for YMCAs make up a sizable portion of the OpenAire portfolio and, while there are some similarities with waterpark requirements, the needs of these facilities are also quite distinct. OpenAire has specifically worked with a number of YMCAs within the family of properties under the umbrella of the YMCA of San Diego County.

mission valley

San Diego’s Mission Valley YMCA was an already long-standing institution when its management team decided to add a pool enclosure that would attract more area residents, boost their profile in the community, upgrade the aesthetic of their club, and provide an environment that would be inviting all-year-round to members of all ages. They found that the pool was very popular on summer days but then fell into disuse throughout most of the winter – and even on some of the cooler Southern California evenings. They wanted a solution that would make the pool more appealing for longer periods throughout the year.

Another problem was the pool’s current enclosure. Although an outdoor pool, it was surrounded by high walls which blocked it from public view. In fact, most San Diegans didn’t even know it was there.

In response to their brief, OpenAire built a completely transparent structure measuring 76’6” by 110’. It features 14 bays and 10’ high sidewalls with an adjustable roof that opens over five of the pool’s six lanes. The roof is glazed with 1” (25mm) five-walled polycarbonate panels and the vertical areas are glazed with 1” insulating glass, mostly in the form of sliding doors. An 8’ glass windscreen around the perimeter of the pool keeps the wind at bay, even when the doors and roof are open. OpenAire was able to add these custom design elements to the existing building.

Since the enclosure has been completed, both membership of the club and year-round use of the pool have increased dramatically. This has, of course, translated to boosted revenues. No matter what the weather conditions may be, community members know they can enjoy the YMCA pool.

One of the club’s board members said, “Not only did we get increased usage, but we got a million dollars’ worth of marketing. At night, it lights up like a beacon.”

Dick Webster, Mission Valley’s former Executive Director, stated that the club’s aquatic revenue rose by as much as 40%.

The increased availability of the pool has made a significant difference in the lives of the members of the local community, as well as raising Mission Valley YMCA’s status and revenue. OpenAire is proud, both to have achieved such excellent results for our client and to have expanded community access to an aquatic health and training facility, which we regard as a public health service, given the many benefits of swimming.

Hockessin Athletic Club, Hockessin, DE

The owners of Hockessin Athletic Club wanted to give their facility a “wow” factor, a state-of-the-art upgrade that would set it leagues ahead of any competition. They had a vision to create a club that would serve the needs of a multi-generational community and house a variety of aquatic programs well beyond the usual offerings of a sports club. The ambition was to make the club the undisputed best of its kind in the area.

Architect Phil McWilliams of Rocchi Construction had been commissioned to design the upgrades and he knew that OpenAire was the only option when it came to the glass enclosure he envisioned. He took the club owners Bob Carpenter and Roger Ralph to the Americana Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario, to see the OpenAire enclosed waterpark and give them a feel for what they could expect in their own facility. Ralph and Carpenter were instantly convinced and OpenAire was called upon to design a unique retractable roof structure for the club. 

The end result was a 120’ by 146’, 17,520 sq ft freestanding enclosure that would house four of the club’s five pools, namely a beach-entry recreational pool with slide, a warm water therapy pool, a four-lane lap pool, and a whirlpool. A six-lane, summer-only pool remains outside the enclosure. The enclosure is 20’ high at the eaves and reaches 50’ at its highest point. It has 18 operable roof panels that can open up to 7,000 square feet of the roof area. Thirteen horizontal sliding doors and ten aluminum and glass overhead doors open up more than 50% of the sidewalls, meaning that the space functions as an outdoor one in summer and a comfortable, naturally-lit space in colder weather. 

The Hockessin Athletic Club opened in June 2007 and quickly became a central point for the surrounding community. It continues to attract large numbers of new users every year. 

The new facility has no air conditioning requirements and its heating and dehumidification needs are massively reduced thanks to the OpenAire enclosure. This translates to drastically reduced energy costs relative to more traditional clubs. The club is used all year round with no interruption in services and with a consistently maintained, comfortable swimming environment. Carpenter says, “The OpenAire structure literally makes people’s jaws drop when they visit the club. OpenAire has helped make the Hockessin Athletic Club one of the most impressive facilities in the country.”

About OpenAire

OpenAire has been designing and manufacturing beautiful, high-quality, retractable roof structures and skylights for 30 years. We bring unique designs to life from concept to installation, transforming buildings into sunlit spaces that customers love. Headquartered in Oakville, Ontario, OpenAire is approaching 1,000 projects throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

OpenAire has helped to boost business and revenue for a variety of clients through the construction of maintenance-free retractable roof systems. These include hotels, restaurants, health and sports clubs, public swimming pools, and waterparks. Visit our website to browse our complete portfolio of aquatic, commercial, and residential projects, as well as for more case studies such as the ones we have discussed here, covering other success stories including the following:

  • The Americana Conference Resort and Spa, Niagara Falls, OT, 
  • The Aquapark Terminal Kiev, Ukraine, and 
  • The WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort, Rapid City, SD. 

Feel free to contact us to find out how we can transform your facility through the addition of a custom-designed retractable roof.

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