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Avoiding Problems in Aquatics Facilities Atypical design for atypical buildings by Jason S. Der Ananian, PE, and Sean M. O’Brien, PE, LEED AP Photo © BigStockPhoto/Nikita Sobolkov IF AN OFFICE BUILDING IN A COLD CLIMATE IS DESIGNED TO RUN AT A SLIGHT POSITIVE PRESSURE WHILE OMITTING AIR BARRIER DETAILS AT THE BUILDING ENCLOSURE, THE LIKELY CONSEQUENCES INCLUDE HIGHER ENERGY COSTS AND POTENTIALLY ISOLATED CONDENSATION EVENTS OR FREEZING PIPES DURING VERY COLD WEATHER, WITH PROBLEMS DEVELOPING IN FIVE TO 10 YEARS. IF THIS WAS A NATATORIUM, HOWEVER, THE RESULTING DAMAGE MAY INCLUDE HUMAN-SIZED ICICLES AT ROOF EAVES, CONCEALED CORROSION OF METAL FRAMING COMPONENTS, WIDESPREAD EFFLORESCENCE ON EXTERIOR CONCRETE AND MASONRY, AND PREMATURE FAILURE OF THE BUILDING ENCLOSURE COMPONENTS— OFTEN WITHIN MONTHS. Few, if any, building types present the risks and challenges found in indoor swimming pool facilities. With far higher interior moisture loads than typical buildings and a potentially corrosive interior environment, natatoriums put structural and enclosure systems to the test, especially in cold or even mixed climates. The authors’ firm has investigated dozens of natatoriums throughout the country and witnessed firsthand the swift and severe nature of failures that can result from improper design and construction. In some cases, the design included the primary components necessary for moisture control, but lacked transition details or did not adequately define the system’s continuity. Others were well-designed but poorly constructed, or poorly designed but built exactly as shown on the drawings. Still others may have functioned well from an enclosure standpoint, if not for significant shortcomings in the mechanical systems’ design or operation. 42 the construction specifier | december 2013 CS_DECEMBER_2013.indd 42 2013-11-14 2:39 PM