Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center in Lower Huron Metropark near Belleville is the ultimate “play station” for kids. With over 13 acres of spray jets, water slides, and a lazy river, the recently opened center turns a summer day in to the sun-filled nirvana of nearly every child’s dreams. Over 200,000 visitors have flocked to this new water wonderland since its grand opening in late May 2008. The project team – Wilkie & Zanely, Architects, Wyandotte; Water Technology, INc., beaver Dam, WI; and Braun Construction Group, Inc., Farmington Hills – have inspired children from throughout the region to put down the videogame controller, don a bathing suit, and get wet in the Great Outdoors at the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority’s largest aquatic center in its green network of Metroparks dotting Southeast Michigan.
A living border of forests, fields and wetlands surrounds this 13-acre aquatic playground. Wilkie & Zanley’s design is in harmony with this natural setting. Totaling 10,000 square feet of space, the administration/concession building, the bathhouse and the mechanical building are each capped by a barrel-vaulted, standing seam metal roof, whose teal color blends with the sky and water and whose structure evokes the dome of a turtle’s shell, a common inhabitant of this lovely oasis in western Wayne County. Patterns of bright terra cotta glazed brick mark the overall tan and dark brown split-face facade of each building. “We tried to capture the essence of the native turtle’s form and color scheme,” said David M. Zanley, LEED AP, principal of Wilkie & Zanley.
Named after and inspired by Michigan’s native turtles, the facility was certainly not built at a turtle’s slow pace. Braun Construction Group delivered the $9.4 million dollar project on a budget and a full six months ahead of schedule. “The project was originally scheduled to be completed in May 2008, and we completed it Nov. 1, 2007,” said Dick Conway, Braun project manager. Said Mike Arens, HCMA project engineer, “We had a great concept, a great design team, a great construction team, and it all snapped together to become a very successful project in terms of budget and schedule. It has been very well received by the public, and it has been great project to operate for the Metroparks.”