Pool houses require maximum light and ventilation, but also complete privacy. In Virginia, they are used seasonally, four months of the year, and do not require insulation or air conditioning, but must be winter-proof. We designed the Arlington Forest Club to meet these needs, to be “water-proof,” and made of durable, maintenance-free materials.

To overcome an 18-foot elevation drop between the parking lot and the pool deck, LAB carved a new ramp and retaining walls into the sloped site to create the new pool house and snack shack. The retaining walls provide a promenade to enter the recreation center; drawing on a narrative of a hillside beach resort, the buildings and walkways create controlled views and surprise glimpses to the “beach” and “waterfront” on the walk towards the club entrance. The slope of the sidewalk is gentle enough to not be considered a “ramp,” meeting ADA requirements without the need for handrails and wheel curbs.

The complex was extremely complicated from a code standpoint, with multiple challenges in construction type, fire access, commercial kitchen requirements, and required ADA and health codes for recreational facilities. We employed trench drains throughout the bathhouse and suspended all plumbing fixtures, benches, and accessories above the floor to provide surfaces that can be expediently cleaned, and that drain rapidly with no pooling or stagnant water underfoot. We also repurposed the existing pool house to provide lifeguard offices, storage, and a first-aid room, saving construction cost and building demolition.