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Work gets underway on new Aquatics Centre

Work on the controversial new Aquatics Centre at the National Sports Centre has begun, according to Sports Minister Glenn Blakeney.

Construction equipment has been mobilised, said the minister, and excavation is underway.

Actual construction is expected to begin in early January.

Government and the NSC Trustees awarded the contract to Cannon Design Architecture Inc., despite objections from Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association who recommended the installation of the Myrtha pool, used by many other swimming associations around the world.

“There has been much headway made with the Aquatics facility since the official groundbreaking ceremony took place on October 21,” said Blakeney. “I recognise that in the past there were several delays and setbacks which resulted in a lack of progress.

“But I am pleased to say that we are ‘all systems go' and it is anticipated that the facility will be ready for the Island Games in 2013, which will be hosted right here in Bermuda.

“After extensive research, careful assessment and consultation, we can finally initiate in earnest the construction of phase one of the proposed Aquatics Centre.”

That phase will see the building of a 50-metre eight-lane pool with combined dive tank and dive platform. It will be the first 50 metre pool to be constructed in Bermuda. Also included in phase one are changing facilities and restrooms.

Government chose CannonDesign who they say are ranked among the leading international firms in “planning and design for healthcare, science and technology, education, sports and recreation, commercial and government clients.”

A press release from the Ministry and the NSC Trustees noted that “the firm employ a staff of over 1,000, delivering services in 17 offices throughout North America, as well as in Shanghai, China, and Mumbai, India.

“The Board and CannonDesign have enjoyed a successful relationship delivering all projects at the facility to date. They have extensive knowledge in the construction of aquatic facilities around the globe.”

The company designed the Commonwealth Games pool in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, more than 20 years ago.

“All components of this Aquatics Centre will be sanctioned by the international swimming governing body known as FINA and will be suitable for the competitive aquatic sports of swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming,” said Chairman of the NSC Trustees, Sean Tucker.

“The construction methodology of the swimming pool will consist of concrete that is made in Bermuda by local concrete suppliers and placed by Bermuda workers. Nineteen Bermudians have already been identified to work on this project.”

The statement noted that “extensive research and comparisons have been conducted on the validity of concrete construction over steel panel construction and after careful assessment it was deemed by the Board of Trustees (and also with the recommendation of one of the world's largest engineering companies, Stantec) that concrete construction was the best method for Bermuda.”

Defending their choice of pool, the statement added: “In the past, support for a steel panel constructed pool (in particular the Myrtha brand) has been put forward with the perception that the steel panel method is superior, far less costly and is cheaper to operate and maintain. However, the Myrtha brand steel panel tank is neither less expensive to construct or operate than a concrete pool. Myrtha's own literature states that its construction costs are comparable to that of concrete.”

Tucker said “On the question of optimal sustainability, one of the measures of sustainability of a construction project is its use of local materials.

“The aquatics tank comprising of the concrete method will make use of locally sourced materials in comparison to a Myrtha steel panel tank, whose steel components are fabricated outside of Bermuda and, in the case of Myrtha, will have to be shipped from Italy to the United States and then reloaded for it to be shipped on to Bermuda. It is through thorough analysis and technical advice that the concrete solution has been selected for Bermuda.”

The North Field of the National Sports Centre. The new aquatics centre will be built to the right of the field.

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Published December 13, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 13, 2010 at 11:03 am)

Work gets underway on new Aquatics Centre

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