State-of-the-Art Technology – On Budget

When Luther College looked to upgrade their swimming and diving facilities, the school turned to Opus Design Build, L.L.C., who had completed seven previous higher education construction projects on the 1,000-acre campus in Decorah, Iowa.

Named the David E.G. and Patricia Miller Natatorium, the 18,000-square-foot facility is home to a new eight-lane, 25-yard competition pool and a 13-foot-deep diving well with one- and three-meter springboards built to meet LEED certification.

Infusing Technology and Design

The modern facility supports Luther College’s nationally-ranked swimming and diving programs. Features of the new pool include a state-of-the-art timing system, a large LED score board and space for 280 spectators. The aquatic center pool also includes a shallow area which will be used for swim lessons and classes such as water aerobics. In addition to bolstering academics and recruitment, the facility allows Luther College to offer more programs for the Decorah community.

Opus incorporated advanced technology into the pool, including:
  • a more sustainable filtration system for the 473,000-gallon capacity pool to save water and reduce costs;
  • a soft water landing system in the diving pool, which pumps air into a trench at the bottom of the pool creating bubbles beneath the springboards that provide a softer landing when divers hit the water during practice and in turn, reduces injuries and helps them master new dives faster and
  • Myrtha technology—quick to install laminated steel panels that create a watertight pool vessel—to ensure an extremely long life. 
The precast exterior includes several five-foot-wide by 12-foot-tall windows that bring in natural light and provide views of the surrounding bluffs. The interior consists of precast and block walls with acoustical panels to control noise.

Flexibility to Meet Needs

Throughout the process, Opus worked closely with Luther College to ensure that all needs and requirements were being met in both the design and during the construction phase. In response to Luther's desire to have a fast competition pool, the Opus team studied and reviewed various design options and pool types with College representatives.

Because the new aquatic center was an addition to the Regent’s Center, which houses a gymnasium, fitness center and field house, Opus needed to accommodate the ongoing swim season during construction. Luther and Opus coordinated schedules to work around an existing pool in the Regent’s Center, adjacent to where the new pool was being constructed, until the swim season was complete (more than six months into construction). Opus then drained and filled the old pool to create a new multi-use court in its place.

Through a strong partnership with Luther College and Opus’ construction project management experience, the new state-of-the-art facility was completed in just one year, whereas many similar facilities take a year and a half to complete, and it was delivered on budget.