The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's top research universities, distinguished by its commitment to improving the human condition through advanced science and technology. Georgia Tech's campus occupies 400 acres in the heart of the City of Atlanta. In 1996, the summer Olympic swimming and diving competitions were performed at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center which was originally designed by Counsilman-Hunsaker and featured a ten lane 50-meter by 25-yard competition pool and a separate diving well with a 10-meter diving platform.
In 2001, Counsilman-Hunsaker was once again retained and served as the aquatic planning and design consultant on a team that completed design modifications, thus converting the freestanding shelter into an indoor award-winning natatorium, named the Herb McAuley Aquatic Center. As an added challenge, the existing roof structure needed to be maintained as an ongoing, long-term, solar energy research project. The design team also provided design services for an aquatic expansion that included a recreation pool with a current channel, waterslide, lap lanes, vortex, and underwater benches. A warm water spa was also constructed adjacent to the recreation pool. This facility has won no less than 11 awards between 1996 and 2019.
Meanwhile, Georgia Institute of Technology's football facility is the oldest in Division I and was host to its first collegiate games before World War I. A few years later, John Heisman led the program to its first of four national championships.
The newly-renovated, 8,100 sq. ft. football team’s locker room, located at Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field, looked to honor the past history of the program with an eye to the future. The new locker rooms include a large focal feature on the ceiling for the team to gather around, 116 ventilated lockers each with a 15-inch digital video screen that can be used as a nameplate or to display highlights, sleek interior finishes, adjustable lighting, upgraded MEP/FP systems, as well as new sinks, toilets, and showers. The trademark GT hexagonal pattern is expressed throughout the design tying the lockers, ceiling feature, graphics, and even the tile accenting around the spas into a cohesive and consistent branding element.
A unique focal point within the locker room is the new hydrotherapy area that consists of two new in-ground, custom plunge spas. The 180 sq. ft. cold spa, capable of holding 18 people will be utilized primarily during post-workout recovery and includes an underwater bench. The 200 sq. ft. hot spa, capable of accommodating 11 people, provides bench seating around the full perimeter with hydrotherapy jets. Adjacent to the plunge spas is a fully-immersive rain shower with LED lights allowing players to rinse off following workout.
As with any project that is working on an existing site over 100 years old, there are many challenges with existing conditions. For example, once excavation began for the spas, the old campus pool was discovered several feet deep with the existing interior tile finishes and much of the structure still in place. This pool was infamous to Georgia Tech and alumni as every student from 1940 to 1987 was required to pass a “drown-proofing” survival class.
In the summer of 2021, Counsilman-Hunsaker was contracted by Georgia Institute of Technology to provide Aquatic Management Program (CHAMP) services, conduct a risk assessment, an Annual Operations Assessment, and three additional unannounced site-visits.
The risk assessment included all aspects of the aquatic facilities including current policies and procedures, emergency action plans, documentation practices, water chemistry records, rescue and safety equipment, and lifeguard zones. Each unannounced site-visit evaluated the performance of the lifeguards and lifeguard operations. The knowledge and skills evaluated during on-site evaluations are based on the American Red Cross Lifeguarding program.