Spotlight on Southwestern Illinois: Engineering and Architecture
FGM Architects, Aquatic Zoo, Mount Vernon
By JENNIFER K. HASAMEAR
With summer in full swing, Mount Vernon’s new Aquatic Zoo is quickly becoming a family favorite for many people throughout the region.
“The community has embraced the new Aquatic Zoo with open arms, which shows in our great daily attendance,” said George Bryant, parks and public facilities director for the city of Mount Vernon. “The public input during the planning stages of this project provided a solid holistic approach to meeting the needs of the community.”
The city hired FGM Architects in 2011 to develop an aquatic master plan to analyze the existing facility, programming and planning for three different concepts. FGM teamed with Counsilman-Hunsaker, an aquatic engineering firm, for the project. Prior to finalizing a design, the firm held numerous public meetings and forums to gather input about the kinds of aquatic attractions people were hoping to have in Mount Vernon. The community’s suggestions of an outdoor pool concept were later approved by the City Council.
“One of the main considerations in the design of the park was to include activities and excitement for many age groups and make the Zoo a destination where people can spend the entire day,” said Brian Wright with FGM Architects. The Aquatic Zoo opened over Memorial Day weekend.
The $6 million Aquatic Zoo includes a leisure pool that slopes from zero to four feet deep under a raft-themed water walk. Two enclosed body flume slides drop riders into another pool that gently flows into the Zoo’s lazy river. The far side of the lazy river narrows and becomes shallower to give guests a quick ride through the river’s rapids before widening out again. For the younger swimmers, the park’s Splash Pad features two slides, a monkey-themed water dumping bucket, zebra and giraffe spray animals and animal-themed geysers, complete with lights and sound.
Rounding out the new attraction is a 25-meter, six-lane lap pool, which goes from depths of 4 feet to 13 feet and has two diving boards. The pool is also designed to accommodate events such as swim meets or practices and can be sectioned off from the rest of the facility, leaving the rest of the park open during the these functions.
FGM Architects specializes in community-based design, such as recreational facilities, fire stations, police stations, village halls and schools.
For more information visit fgmarchitects.com.