Garden Rapids at “The Big Pool”

Project Type:
Community Recreation
Garden City, KS

History runs deep at “The Big Pool” with the initial pool being hand-dug in 1921 and the construction of the bathhouse in the 1930s as part of a WPA project. As the “World’s Largest Outdoor Concrete Municipal Swimming Pool”, Garden City’s municipal swimming pool was larger than a football field with a water surface area of 72,600 square feet and it could hold 2.6 million gallons of water! Over the last 100 years, this public amenity became a beloved summer staple to Garden City residents who appreciated its rich roots within the community. The Big Pool was truly one-of-a-kind; on various occasions, elephants from the neighboring zoo in Finnup Park played and swam in the pool and boats pulled water skiers across the immense water surface. After nearly 100 years of use and despite many repairs, the Big Pool was losing over 200,000 gallons of water daily. Due to these rising repair costs, Water Technology, Inc. (WTI) and the project design team were contracted to complete a master plan to re-imagine and rejuvenate this city treasure.

The Master Plan for the Big Pool involved many public meetings and events to gain input and insight from the community about this beloved amenity. The design team met with residents at The Big Pool and asked them what they loved about the current pool and what they hoped to see in the new facility. Overwhelming support from the community highlighted interests in three key areas for the new pool: a 50-Meter competition pool featuring the nation’s first SlipStream Standup Waterslide and two of the first municipally-owned FlyTyme Launch Slides, alongside other body and tube slides, a leisure pool with a large lazy river and interactive play structure, and a separate toddler wading pool and splash ground.

Part of the rejuvenation of The Big Pool was to re-brand the facility and the citizens voted on the name Garden Rapids at “The Big Pool.” After a brief 255 days of construction, the revitalized park opened to the community and was met with an incredibly warm reception. The average weekday park attendance is 900 and the average weekend attendance is 1200. The community is thrilled about the new legacy of “The Big Pool” for the future of Garden City recreation. Following a successful first summer season, the park was awarded the prestigious Leading Edge Award by the World Waterpark Association. Garden Rapids was the only municipality featured amongst the international commercial waterpark heavy-hitters, which is truly a testament to the unique innovation of this incredible facility.

Project Highlights
  • 50-Meter Competition Pool
  • 1-Meter Diving Board, 3-Meter Diving board
  • Basketball hoops, Lazy river, Interactive Play Feature
  • SlipStream Standup Slide, Two FlyTyme Launch Slides, One Body Slide and One Tube Slide

2021 Leading Edge Award - WWA

2022 Athletic Business - Aquatic Design Portfolio

2022 Associated General Contractors of America Award

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