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Southwestern College Wellness and Aquatics Complex

Project summary provided by submitting company.

Built on one of the busiest intersections in Chula Vista, Southwestern College’s Wellness and Aquatics Complex is a state-of-the-art facility designed to help students, student athletes, and local community achieve their wellness and fitness goals. Articulated with Mayan-inspired glyphs that shine like a beacon at dusk, the facility houses a three-court gymnasium, locker rooms, cardio and strength training rooms, exercise fitness and dance classrooms, administrative offices, and a community room. Outside, two Olympic sized pools and a 25-meter therapy pool provide places for the student athletes, spectators, and community members of all ages to watch, practice, compete, and learn to swim. The building’s integration into the topography was central to creating architecture that is grounded and of the earth through its materiality, textures, forms, and scale. The curved arching tilt-up walls of the gym reflect the iconic panoramic view of Mt. Miguel in the distance, symbolic of the Chula Vista community. Located at the US-Mexican border, Southwestern College has used Mayan hieroglyphic symbols for decades in the library to represent “wisdom, experience, and respect.” The building’s architectural character represents a contemporary re-interpretation of the “Modern Mayan” vocabulary used throughout the campus. The glyph pattern, executed via a back-lit perforated metal panel façade attached to the tilt-up concrete walls, provides the building contemporary glyphs designed specifically for this building with the meaning “health center” and “pool”. Lighting from the glyphs illuminates the textured concrete panels above making the walls appear to twinkle with stars at night. High thermal mass walls were utilized through tilt-up concrete construction, to help keep the large volume gymnasium cool during hot summer days. Glazing elements, with highly fritted glass, help to reduce glare and solar radiation while optimizing natural daylighting. Together, the double height spaces, glazing, and lit up glyphs connect the building to the public realm and act as way-finding beacons that signal clear and distinct points of entry. The Wellness and Aquatics Complex is the manifestation of the district’s desire to bring together the local community and college in a meaningful and enduring way. Not only does it serve the athletic and wellness needs of the students, it also serves the local community by offering community club members a wide range of health programs ranging from fitness and swimming classes, to individual training, and programs for children, adults and seniors.

Main banner image for Southwestern College Wellness and Aquatics Complex

Project Location

Chula Vista, CA
United States


The Tilt-Up Achievement Awards were established to honor projects that use site-cast tilt-up concrete to introduce new building types, advance industry technology and provide unique solutions to building programs. Winning entries illustrate the variety, beauty, and flexibility of tilt-up construction.



The excellence designation is given to the highest scoring projects each year representing the top 10-12 projects. Learn more >

Project Images


Project Team (TCA Members)

General Contractor:
Concrete Contractor:
Emil Kara
Ryan Gobuty

Project Specifics

Project Category:
Sports / Recreation
Building Types:
Concrete (Raw/Sealed)
Paint (Flat)
Angled Panels (Elevation-Edge/Shape)
Angled Panels (Plan-Orientation/Position)
Metal Panels
Post Applied (Exterior)
LEED Certified - Gold
Number of Floors:
Number of Panels:
56 panels
Total Floor Area:
74,072 sq ft (6,881 sq m)
Project Footprint:
80,475 sq ft (7,476 sq m)
Tallest Panel:
50 ft 7 in (15.42 m)
Heaviest Panel:
165,000 lbs (74,843 kg)
Longest Spandrel:
32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)