Artist Creating Mosaic Public Art for RCC’s Aquatics Center Revamp

(Updated) Reston will welcome a new public art piece when the Reston Community Center debuts its newly renovated Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center in the fall.

RCC chose mosaic artist Valerie Theberge to create mosaic artwork for two large wall panels adjacent to the pool overlook area.

RCC’s Executive Director Leila Gordon told Reston Now that having Theberge on board from the start of the renovation, which will update the 40-year-old aquatics center with two pools, allows for the engineers, designers and the artist to plan how the wall with the art will look and get used, with conversations ranging from color palettes to electrical engineering decisions.

Theberge has been working with the project team, which includes RCC’s Deputy Director John Blevins and Martha Sansaver, Karen Davis and Geoff Kimmel from the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services and the contracting firm Branch Builds — previously named Branch & Associates.

Currently, Theberge is in the preliminary design stages for the art, which will occupy two main panels that are about 50 square feet each.

“I keep getting snapshots of what’s going to come and it keeps percolating, because we have been talking about this for a year,” she told Reston Now. “It will be strong and vocal.”

Unlike her previous mosaic art at the Glade Drive Underpass and the Dogwood Pool, Theberge says this piece is influenced by its different location, one that she describes as indoors, focused on people instead of nature and “white, clean, quiet.”

“The other ones are very earth-centered and this is very water-centered,” Theberge said, adding that she plans to add “sparklers” so that viewers will feel movement in the art.

In a group interview with Reston Now, Theberge and Gordon shared different elements that stand out to them about the aquatics center, including the contrast between the water’s buoyancy and the hard surfaces on the ground, the windowless cave-esque location, the polarity between the exterior and interior worlds and the action of people stripping off layers of clothing before they get into the water. While some of those evocative ideas might sound harsh or vulnerable, Gordon emphasized that “it is hard to be hostile in the presence of art.”

Once Theberge has a design, she said she will build the two pieces in her studio before they get bolted onto the wall.

Once installed, community engagement activities and art workshops will allow Restonians to respond to the art. “It’s not one monolithic swimming community. There are families. There are older adults. There are swim teams, and every one of those groups of people have different desires,” Gordon said.

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Photos: Renovation on Track for RCC’s Aquatics Center

Two months down and about seven more to go for the renovation of the Reston Community Center’s  Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center.

RCC recently shared its monthly construction update on the project, which will update the 40-year-old aquatics center with two pools.

Two progress meetings took place before March 1, and the project “remains on schedule and on budget,” according to the post.

Demolition started in late January and continued through February. The demolition is expected to finish in early to mid-March, the post says.

The newly renovated facility, which will include a 25-yard lap pool with zero-depth entry, a warm-water therapeutic pool and a new roof, is slated to reopen in October.

Photos via Reston Community Center

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Photos: Work Underway for RCC’s Aquatics Center Renovation

Work is underway on Reston Community Center’s Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center, which closed roughly one month ago for major renovations. 

RCC recently shared a construction update on the project, which will update the 40-year-old aquatics center with two pools, along with photos of the progress.

RCC staff vacated the area after the pool was drained in early January, according to the update.

Recently, the crew from Branch & Associates has been removing wiring and ductwork in the ceilings and walls. The contractors have installed a safety railing around the pool and covered the overlook windows, the update says, adding that the crew was slated to put in a construction camera last week.

Locals might have noticed that a construction fence and work trailer are now outside in RCC’s parking lot.

RCC says that it will post monthly construction updates with photos, allowing people can follow along with the progress on the pools.

The renovated facility, designed by RRMM-Lukmire Architects, will include a 25-yard lap pool with zero-depth entry, a warm-water therapeutic pool, updated infrastructure systems and a new roof. It is slated to reopen in October.

Photos via Reston Community Center

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New Year, New Pool: What’s in Store for RCC’s Aquatics Center

The Reston Community Center kicked off the more than $5 million renovation of the Reston Community Center’s Terry L. Smith Aquatics Center today (Jan. 2).

Contractor Branch & Associates started the work today on the project, which will update the 40-year-old aquatics center with two pools.

After the final open swim time ended yesterday, the process of draining the pool began.

That process starts with neutralizing the pool water for several days to allow chlorine to dissipate before slowly draining the water, ensuring that it does not erode stream banks downstream of the pool.

“Draining the water is a controlled process to avoid overwhelming any part of the surrounding environment,” RCC’s Executive Director Leila Gordon who said that the team will follow strict environmental standards throughout the process.

In addition to Gordon, the project team includes Branch Project Manager Bill Ruschaupt, RCC’s Deputy Director John Blevins and Martha Sansaver, Karen Davis and Geoff Kimmel from DPWES.

Branch & Associates was selected as the contracting firm for the project after Fairfax County’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services opened a pre-bid qualification process in October.

RCC chose mosaic artist Valerie Theberge to create a mosaic artwork installation for the large wall areas adjacent to the pool overlook area.

Gordon said that the new artwork by Theberge — the artist behind the Glade Drive underpass and a mosaic water feature at Dogwood Pool — will “add to Reston’s wonderful public art collection.”

The renovated facility, designed by RRMM-Lukmire Architects, will include a 25-yard lap pool with zero-depth entry, a warm-water therapeutic pool, updated infrastructure systems and a new roof. It is slated to reopen in the fall.

During the construction period, Reston patrons can receive discounted rates, which are offered through RCCs’ partnership with the YMCA Fairfax County RestonReston Association and Herndon Community Center.

Renderings via Reston Community Center

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RCC Pool Referendum Unlikely in 2014

Reston Community CenterA referendum on whether to build a new Reston Community Center facility is unlikely to happen in 2014, RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon says.

The board has been discussing the idea of adding a new recreation center with a 50-meter indoor pool with residents and consultants with Brailsford & Dunlavey since February of 2013. RCC’s current indoor pool, at Hunters Woods, is 35 years old and need of modernization, RCC’s board of governors says. The board has proposed building an additional pool and rec center at Baron Cameron Park or at the area known as Town Center North.

RCC had hoped to be able to present the idea to Small Tax District 5 voters this year. However, Gordon says there still needs to be three-to-six months of more discussion before the plan can move forward, which means if RCC decides to move forward it would not be put to a referendum vote by November. It also would not be cost-effective to hold a special ballot, she said.

“I think it will take the next several months to get an understanding of the best opportunity,” said Gordon. “Once we know roughly where it would be and who we would be partnering with, then we can talk about priorities.”

The Brailsford & Dunlavy analysis last June estimated a new pool facility would cost about $35-40 million if built at Baron Cameron Park on land provided at no cost from the Fairfax County Park Authority.  That plan was met with mixed reaction from the community. Many residents near Baron Cameron Park are against the facility nearby and many residents throughout Small Tax District 5, which supports RCC, are against building a facility for the public with Reston taxpayer money.

Gordon said one of the ideas coming out of a two-day RCC Board of Governors retreat last week was the need to examine pricing and cost recovery scenarios. RCC’s usage fees have remained lower than most area facilities, and phasing in increases over the next several years would allow for less of a tax burden on residents if the project proceeds.

RCC raised its aquatics center fees Sept. 1 — only the second time in 34 years that drop-in fees have risen.

RCC has been running for the last several years at a 13-15 percent cost recovery level, Gordon said. An ideal level would be 25 percent, she added. With more money available at the start of building the new project, the quicker RCC could recoup its expense. B & D estimates after five years there cost recovery level would still only be 50 percent (Reston resident rate structure) to 71 percent (Fairfax County resident rate structure).

Cost recovery can make or break a plan. In Arlington County, a proposal to build a $79 million multi-pool aquatics facility ($42 million of it from an approved 2012 county bond) is re-evaluating costs after an original operating deficit estimate of  $1 million to $1.3 million was recently upped to $3.8 million after construction bids came in much higher than anticipated.

“The situation at Long Bridge Park in Arlington illustrates perfectly that the longer you are undertaking a project, there is a larger potential for the scope of planning to outstrip your resources,” said Gordon. “The cost of construction goes up.”

Another unknown variable: FCPA’s Master Plan for Baron Cameron Park, which should be released later this month. The Park Authority said last spring it is ready for improvements and additions of many recreational amenities at the 68-acre park at Wiehle Avenue and Baron Cameron Avenue.

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