Between the Olympic trials last summer and the outstanding performance of Indiana’s swimmers in Rio, there’s been a lot of attention this past year on the newly renovated Natatorium at IUPUI. In case you don’t know, the country’s largest indoor pool is located right here in Indianapolis. After 30+ years in use, the facility is undergoing a major facelift. And let me tell you, it looks good!

Metal and tile create a fresh, modern look at the IUPUI Natatorium

We are proud to have played a part in this project, working with our design partners and contractors. Even with a tight budget ($20 million sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t go far with a place this big!), they have put in lots of little touches that make the Natatorium look really modern and high-end.

One example is the mix of high-gloss ceramic tile and polished metal along the concourse walls near the doorways. Around those doorways are metal tubes that needed to be attached to the wall. To make things a bit more difficult, those tubes also butt up right to the edge of the tile. Now as you know, I love working with metal. But what I really love is figuring out how to integrate metal with other materials in the most attractive and efficient way. Well, let me tell you this project presented a perfect “figure it out” moment!

The 45 degree angle on the tab’s edge allows for a stronger weld

The solution was to create small metal tabs that could be welded to the tubes. Those tabs could then be attached to the wall with screws allowing for fast and easy installation. Plus the connection is super strong. We designed the tab so it would lay at a 45 degree angle, which created more surface area for the weld. More surface area means a stronger connection.

But still there was the issue of the tile. How could we avoid having a raised bump in the tile wherever the tabs were attached? The solution: countersink the screws. This minor modification, creating a slight recess for the screw head in each tab, ensured less bulk at the attachment points. As a result they could lay tile right on top of the tabs.

Countersinking the screw created less bulk so tile could be laid right on top of the tabs

So that’s how a very small part made a big difference. It allowed for fast, strong attachment while keeping the surface even for tile. Altogether, it looks as smooth as silk. Or perhaps I should say as smooth as the water at the Natatorium after a perfect dive!

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek behind another one of our projects.

Until next time,