© Darren Bradley

National City Aquatic Center // Safdie Rabines Architects

National City, CA, United States

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Text description provided by the architects.

Located fifteen miles north of the U.S./Mexico border in southern San Diego County, CA, the single-story, two-structure center marks the realization of National City’s long-term goal to replace a makeshift facility housed in trailers for over a decade. Sited on a scarce section of accessible coastland owned by the Port of San Diego, the 5,500 square-foot complex is positioned on the southern edge of a 5½-acre public park, where it complements the coastline just inside the mouth of the Sweetwater River Channel as it flows into San Diego Bay.

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

Designed to facilitate recreational and educational services for the community, the new center is a key civic amenity and contemporary landmark with unobstructed views towards protected wetlands, San Diego Bay and beyond. The center’s easternmost structure contains a large gathering and educational space beneath a faceted, flying roof. Perched atop its base of glass walls, the roof appears to float as kite gliding into the air, creating a fluid dynamic for its larger counterpart to the west.

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

Inside, the geometries of a saw tooth ceiling are emphasized with maple-shaded laminate layered on micro-perforated aluminum. Carpet in ocean shades of teal, turquoise and aqua blues laid in a sunburst pattern accentuates the dimension of the space. Gull-shaped decals applied as bird strike prevention measures cast playful shadows that ‘fly’ through the room as the sun travels across the sky.

Directly to the west, the center’s offices are housed in a 650 square-foot glass box enclosed with 4-foot intermittently-operable windows.

© Darren Bradley

© Darren Bradley

© Darren Bradley

© Darren Bradley

The box introduces a large white, concrete block structure used for boat and equipment storage, locker rooms, showers and restrooms. With outward protruding angles and porthole-like rectangular window apertures, the ship-like edifice ‘flows’ up-channel in the wake of the kite structure that leads it. Separate yet unified, the two buildings are enclosed and coalesced with custom galvanized steel gates clad with luminous acrylic resin panels.

© Safdie Rabines Architects

© Safdie Rabines Architects

© Darren Bradley

© Darren Bradley

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© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Menders, Torrey & Spencer

© Darren Bradley

© Darren Bradley

National City Aquatic Center Gallery

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© Jaime rrio

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