A Place To Play

A family cannot enter the David F. Schulz Aquatic Center at Lincoln Park Center in Milwaukee, Wis., without screams of excitement and squeals of delight. The $8.6-million facility, which began construction in June 2008, is available for children to swim, exercise, and participate in traditional summertime activities.

Named after David F. Schulz, the former county executive and Milwaukee County parks director, who championed the waterpark concept in the 1980s, the project’s construction team (comprised of Water Technology, Inc. and Graef engineering) worked closely with county staff, residents and regulatory agencies to provide the leadership and participatory framework through the design process.

The project includes:

• A 9,240-square-foot multi-generational pool, including zero-depth entry, interactive water features, lap lanes and a diving well

• A 5,750-square-foot lazy river

• A tower with two waterslides

• A raft ride and body-flume slide

• Adaptive reuse of the existing Blatz Center pavilion

• A concession stand with cooking and prep equipment

• A changing facility with family rooms

• Deck, turf and shade areas.

Schematic Design And Feasibility Study

The first step in the process was to hold a public meeting to identify and set goals for the project. The team met with the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture staff and Department of Transportation and Public Works staff to discuss previous studies as well as preliminary plans.

Meanwhile, an evaluation of the existing facilities also was conducted to review plans and specifications. A site analysis confirmed the location, size and condition of the utility services, hardscapes, vegetation, grades and drainage conditions. A geotechnical evaluation was also completed at that time.

After the research and evaluation phase was complete, additional public meetings were held, a design charette/work session was conducted, a final schematic-design report was distributed, and a presentation was made to the Milwaukee County Board Committee.

While final design plans gave residents a practical place to recreate, attention to detail made it a legacy.

Creative Use Of Space

Projects like the Schulz center typically include new building space for support services such as concessions and staff offices. By locating this facility adjacent to the existing Blatz Pavilion, the county was able to remodel the underutilized pavilion to include concessions, lifeguard locker rooms, a first-aid room and staff offices. The new facility provides a strong connection to the park, the river and the adjacent Oak Leaf Trail system.

Notable Architecture

The architecture of the pool building takes its cue from the pavilion. The county parks have long been known for their trademark lannon stone structures that date to the earliest years of the park system. Preserving this architectural character--and adding to its legacy through newly designed buildings--continues a tradition of pride in the services offered to the community.

In addition to its visual appeal, the new pool building was designed with an eye on eliminating maintenance issues. Maintenance-free burnished block walls and other elements were selected for their moisture- and temperature-resistant qualities.

Positive Impact

Aside from the pool's obvious recreational impact, traffic congestion was alleviated in the adjacent residential neighborhood by relocating the pool to the north side of the park. This was especially important as the foot traffic by neighborhood families has significantly increased with the pool’s popularity.

Whereas the former pool was off to one side of the park in a dark, wooded area, the new facility is easy to access from the road.

Sustainable Development

The project uses creative solutions to achieve environmental sustainability, including:

• Building materials. Reusing the pavilion as part of the pool development was the first step in sustainable thinking. The structure was old and in need of maintenance, but could successfully serve the needs of the new aquatic center. By reusing the structure, minimal new materials were required, and the character of the park was maintained.

• Parking. When planning for increased visitors, parking was bound to be an issue. Fortunately, the existing parking facilities were adequate to meet the anticipated needs. The existing infrastructure at the park was repaired where needed, and the traffic to and from the pool has been successfully managed.

• Landscaping. Native perennial plantings and grasses were used in landscape designs surrounding the pool. Additionally, a bio-filtration system for water runoff was installed to ensure better water-quality discharge to the Milwaukee River.

Although difficult to address so shortly after the center’s opening, history indicates that county park aquatic centers are extremely popular. They attract a large number of visitors and generate revenues that support the park system as a whole. The return on investment can be considered in a financial light, but also as a quality-of-life factor. Adding a family-centered activity destination has an intrinsic community value.

For more information, visit www.wtiworld.com.