Aquatics Blog

Counsilman – Hunsaker’s Beginning

After a successful swimming career that spanned high school and college and then receiving an honorable discharge as a First Lieutenant from the US Army, Dad went to work for Midwest Pool and Court Company in St. Louis.  In this position he focused on residential and commercial pools offering everything from design and construction to operational support.  In 1966, Dad founded Midwest Pool Management Corporation (MPM) which managed (lifeguard, maintenance, chemicals) pools for what grew into sixty facilities under contract.  This quick history is the foundation for the beginning of Counsilman – Hunsaker and now I will turn the story telling over to Dad.  – Scot Hunsaker

In 1969, I called Doc Counsilman at Indiana University and asked what he would charge to conduct a seminar for the various age group swim teams at my managed clubs.  We agreed on an amount and Doc drove from theBloomington,INcampus, where he was varsity coach, toSt. Louisone summer weekend.  Doc had also been the Men’sUSCoach at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 and would lead the US men’s team again in 1976 at the Montreal Games.

After the two-day clinic in the natatorium at Florissant Valley Community College, I showed Doc the Claymont Bath & Tennis Club in West County and the Gaslight Bath and Tennis Club, the pools of which I had designed in Collinsville four years before.  Both of these clubs MPM now managed.  Doc was impressed and we agreed that I would look for a site in theSt. Louisarea.  When I found an appropriate piece of property at a feasible price, we would develop it together with me doing all the hands-on work inSt. Louis.

When nothing in the way of a suitable site presented itself, I suggested we create instead, a consulting service for architects commissioned to design indoor pools because history told us that new natatoria were being poorly planned, designed and constructed because materials, support spaces, fenestration and deck dimensions were being compromised without an understanding of the impact.

Doc agreed to this venture and I incorporated it with lawyer Don Clooney’s help making Doc President and me Vice President of Counsilman and Associates.  Several months later Doc called and said he had been contacted by Bob Busby, the swim coach and athletic director at Cleveland State University, the City campus which was being developed with federal Urban Renewal funds and the school needed help in designing a 50m x 25 yd. pool with a ten-meter diving tower.  Doc told Busby that, personally, he was committed at the time, but he would send his partner, Joe Hunsaker, who would meet with him and his associates at the University.  I did and an outstanding and unique super-pool was created two years later, which hosted the NCAA National Championships and the US National Swimming Championships, most of the years from the mid-70’s through the mid-80’s.

Our next project was a 50m dotted I at the University of South Carolina.  One or two projects followed each year, and sometimes as many as five per year with high schools and a Y now and then with my contribution being primarily design programming and usually working directly for the owner.  TheIndianaUniversity– Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) was a big, big project in the ‘79 –‘81 timeframe with completion on time for the US Olympic Sports Festival.  There were a number of firsts.  The most educational was working with the project manager, Gajindar Singh, an Indian sikh who studied at New Dehli University and MIT and was now in the elite architectural office of Edward Larabee Barnes, whose reputation was international, who had once been the head of the Yale Architecture Department.

When I came on board as design consultant, the project architect, Browning, Day, Mullens and Dierdorf, had finished schematics and had built a model which was similar to the University of Texas.  After studying it, I pointed out thatTexashad a problem site which dictated a natatorium floor plan that has several disadvantages.  When I showed “why” to the group attending, it was decided to revisit the design.

A week later I received a phone call from Gajinder who said Ed Barnes wanted to visit a natatorium which had the features I had described to the group in Indianapolis.  I reflected on the request and told him there was really no such complex in theU.S.but the venue for the 1976 Olympics inMontrealwould be an excellent example.  With Scot accompanying me, we met Gajindar and Ed Barnes at the Montreal Airport and drove to the Olympic site where I had arranged a guided tour behind the scenes.  After the tour we explored the facility ourselves and I was able to explain why many features were the way they were.  Everyone felt good about the visit.  Ed caught a return flight toNew Yorkthat evening while the remaining three of us had a nice dinner in theOldTownand spent the night and went our separate ways the next day.

The Barnes office developed a classic interior space for the IUPUI venue with a natural soaring ceiling and top lighting, which not only illuminated the space, but it created a cathedral-like drama.  After which many said looked more like a cathedral than a natatorium.


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