Carol and John Butler Aquatic Center, Hathaway Brown School
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Learning environments are pushing beyond the classroom to enrich all aspects of the student’s life and their development as young adults. At the Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, the mission is to foster and promote the mind, body and spirit of the young women who attend.
The new aquatic center provides learning opportunities and challenges for all ages, from the first-time swimmer to college-level competition. The location is at the southern terminus of the campus, adjoining the existing athletic facilities. The siting takes advantage of natural light and proximity to playing fields and green space, and creates clear views across the landscape.
The simple form of this light and airy structure is premised as a large garden pavilion surrounded by nature. Its location and material expression contribute to the sense of being virtually outdoors.
When this campus was first built, the English Gothic buildings were planned with generous large windows with divided panes of glass, filling the interior corridors and rooms with streams of light. The pool pavilion similarly uses large areas of glass, divided by brick piers. Simple materials and their clarity of expression become an elegant backdrop for learning, similar in fashion to the school’s original Walker and Weeks building.
In the graceful structure of the roof, a monitor with a diffused glass clerestory floods the center of the pool with controlled natural light. The perimeter glazing utilizes a graduated ceramic fritted pattern that allows less light in at the top of the wall and blocks the harsh glare of the direct sun. More light is allowed to penetrate lower in the window, permitting views out. On a cloudy day, this treatment makes the outside light appear much brighter. The glazing beckons visitors in, but also protects against glare for the activities within the pool interior.
The vertical proportions are in keeping with the larger surrounding context of athletic buildings. The blending of traditional and modern expression mediates the diversity of architectural styles on the campus.