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  Ray’s Splash Planet, Page 35Ray’s Splash Planet
Clark Nexsen, architecture & Engineering
1023 West Morehead Street, #150, Charlotte, NC 28208

Charlotte, North Carolina
Total Square Feet: 33,045
Construction Period: Feb 2001 to Sep 2002

Construction Team
General Contractor: LeChase Construction Services, LLC - 11925 Sam Roper Drive, #B, Charlotte, NC 28269
Structural/Mechanical/Electrical Engineer: Clark Nexsen, Architecture & Engineering - 1023 West Morehead Street, #150,
Charlotte, NC 28208
Landscape Architect: Kimley-Horn & Associates, Inc. - 4601 Charlotte Park Drive, #350, Charlotte, NC 28217

Ray’s Splash Planet is a family recreation center that includes a leisure pool and fitness center. The pool is comprised of a 4,850 sq.ft. “zero-depth” leisure pool and a 1,650 sq.ft. lap pool. The leisure pool, with a zero-depth entry water play area, provides interactive water features for both youth and adult visitors. Water features include a 30-foot tall water slide, “lazy river”, fountains, islands, and bubbles, tumble buckets, geysers, lemon drops and a vortex. The lap pool is equipped for additional activities, such as volleyball and basketball.

Ray’s Splash Planet is a cooperative project between Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Ray’s Splash Planet is physically attached to Irwin Avenue Open Elementary School. The existing school was built in the 1920’s and boasts a full size gymnasium that has hardwood floors. The gym is shared by both facilities and has become the link between the school and the new recreation center. 

The site for Ray’s Splash Planet is located in an urban setting (Third Ward District) on the campus of the Irwin Avenue Open Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina. The school property is bordered by the interstate highway (I-77) on the west, W. Sixth Street on the south, and Elmwood Cemetery on the north. The site was selected because of its visual presence from I-77 and the building was arranged on the site to be seen from I-77.

The building consists of two major types of spaces. The activity spaces include the natatorium, two classrooms, a child’s playroom, a weight room, a cardiovascular/fitness area, and aerobics/dance/class rooms. The support spaces include the entry vestibule, the lobby/control desk area, various offices and storage rooms, electrical and telecommunication rooms, public toilets, shower and locker rooms, a lifeguard equipment room, and various mechanical rooms. 

The concept of the design evolves around the movement and nature of water. Water in nature has many powerful attributes. Water creates, sustains and energizes life. It cuts through rock and polishes the roughest surface. Water unites a community and its people. It is this powerful natural force and its movement that is prevalent throughout the building, its site and the connecting greenway. Masses of rock have been excavated to create a sense of erosion that will reveal the smooth, more polished mass of the building. A story and a half curved glass wall runs the length of the building further creating the sense of water penetrating and eroding the massive volumes that crest the site. Smaller masses are created as the water continues to erode and break down the mass of the building and its site leaving the entry to the building at a human scale.

The building is designed to intrigue and invite not only children and a family unit but also single adults. The second floor allows a single person to use the cardiovascular equipment or take an aerobics class while a parent works out with a view of their child below in the pool. 

As one approaches the building from the parking lot, artistically carved glazed brick tiles are mounted within curved concrete walls guiding you into the building. The walls that carry the tiles are integrated within the building’s design and capture such elements as the city’s skyline, the surrounding neighborhood, freshwater life, and nature.

DIV 03: CMU: Oldcastle.
DIV 07: Metal: Dimensional Metals; Low Slope: Johns Manville; EIFS: Dryvit.
DIV 08: Curtainwall, Entrances & Storefronts: EFCO Corporation.
DIV 09: VCT: Armstrong; Resilient Athletic: Sport Court; Carpet: Lees.

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