Long Bridge Park Aquatics & Fitness Center and Park Expansion Project

Here we are.

For more than 10 years, Arlington County has been striving to develop Long Bridge Park. The community’s interest in swimming has remained steady. Four nationally recognized design and construction firm teams are putting together their best creativity and knowledge to design project options for Arlington. We have four great concepts for the aquatics center based on years of community interaction.

The County Manager will be recommending that at their Nov. 28 meeting, the County award a $54,700,000 contract to Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc.  to Design-Build the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center and park expansion. Construction could start as early as July 2018, with the new facility open in 2021. View the concept under consideration. View the Board Meeting here on Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.

Photo of people running in content on streets








How did we get here?

The Long Bridge Park Project began in earnest with the appointment of a committee of Arlingtonians in 2001. The project is being built in phases as laid out in the County Board-adopted 2013 Long Bridge Park Master Plan. So far we have developed three synthetic turf sports fields, an esplanade, playground and support amenities, rebuilt Long Bridge Drive and completed major environmental remediation on this former brownfield site. The next major phase is the Aquatics & Fitness Center and park expansion.

Arlington had an earlier design for the Aquatics & Fitness Center and park expansion; however, the construction bids received in fall 2013 were higher than projected. The County Manager placed the project on hold while staff explored options such as value engineering and including the project in the regional Olympic bid as well as other potential partnerships. In March 2015, the County Board directed that the County staff to re-examine the design; re-engage the community to be sure the plan is in sync with their needs and interests; explore partnership and sponsorship opportunities; and come back with recommended priorities and project parameters.

Based on this work, the County Manager made several recommendations in April 2016 to adjust the project’s components, however, the core principle remains: focus on the community’s needs while bringing the project within budget. The County Board confirmed the Manager’s recommendations in the adopted FY 2017-FY 2026 Capital Investment Program (CIP).  The County will use a Design-Build process to design and build the project. Design-Build has been shown to be successful in developing cost-effective, on-budget and on-time projects.

What is Design-Build?

The Design-Build process is a construction delivery method where the design team and construction team are hired as one entity.

Why did Arlington choose the Design-Build process for Long Bridge Park?

Design-Build allows you to leverage more for your money and greatly reduces the risk that the project could go over budget.

What are the benefits of Design-Build?

In a traditional project, the architects design the project then estimators come in with costs and then construction firms bid on the project to build it. This lack of collaboration between the architect and construction firm can increase costs and does not guarantee that the bid prices will be in line with the design estimates. In Design-Build, the designers and contractors are hired as a team.  As a team, they work together to develop cost-effective designs and construction methods.

Design-Build establishes the project cost at the beginning of the project and greatly reduces the risk that the project can exceed budget. One of the ways costs are managed is that timelines are often shortened so that early site work may begin while some design drawings are being finalized, therefore reducing the overall project duration and cost.

What are the challenges to Design-Build?

A team comprised of architects and a construction contractor is hired for a specified budget based on a set of descriptive design guidelines. This means there is not an interactive design process before the award of contract. The challenge lies in that as the contractor agrees to build the project for a specific budget, any changes to the scope after the contract are difficult.

In order to address this issue, the County has built the procurement process so that a concept design is shared by each firm for public feedback. This feedback will be incorporated into the selection process.

Has the County ever used this process before? If not, why not?

This is Arlington’s first Design-Build. Virginia only recently opened this process as a tool for counties to use.

Have any other local jurisdictions used this process?

Both Washington, DC and the Department of Defense (DOD) have used it. DOD used this process recently to renovate the Pentagon. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

How will the County measure success?

Success will mean the County has delivered a facility that meets the community’s needs and expectations while staying on budget and on time.

What are the stages for this Design-Build process?

  • Develop project requirements (completed)
  • Request for qualifications (completed)
  • Request for proposal (completed)
  • Contract with selected firms to provide concepts (completed)
  • Concept design and development (completed)
  • Firm selection based on who offers the best value and quality (anticipated at November County Board Meeting)
  • Completion of design and construction documents (January 2018 to December 2018)
  • Construction start (as early as July 2018)

Park and Center ( open in 2021)

How were the firms in the Long Bridge Park process selected?

  • All the firms demonstrated they will be able to do a good job by showing they had successful experience in similar facilities. Among a variety of considerations, qualifications included design and build experience in the following:
    • Aquatic center over 50K sf and 50m pool
    • Two recreation centers over 25K sf
    • Three LEED Silver Buildings
    • Campus/park development over $5 million in value
    • Two environmentally impacted sites over $5 million in value
    • Projects that used Building Information Modeling (BIM) and advanced scheduling tools
  • A variety of subject matter experts, including Parks, Purchasing and County Attorney staff, were part of the process.

How will the final firm be chosen?

The Selection Advisory Committee (SAC), which is comprised of six Arlington County staff from Departments of Parks and Recreation, Environmental Services, Community Planning, Housing and Development, and Management and Finance and a community representative from the Long Bridge Park Advisory Committee, will recommend the contract award based on written proposals, oral interviews, review of concepts, public feedback and negotiations.

It is anticipated that the County Manager will make a recommendation to the County Board at the November County Board Meeting for approval to award the $54,700,000 contract based on a mainly unaltered concept from the suggested firm. This contract award is in line with the County Board Approved FY 2017-FY 2026 Capital Investment Program.

How will the community feedback be used?

Feedback from the community will inform the SAC committee as to how the designs reflect the community’s expectations for Long Bridge Park.

What is mandatory that all the designs include?

Lobby; community meeting rooms; aquatics spaces—50m pool with 1m, 3m and 5m diving, tiered bleacher seating, leisure/family pool, spa and wet classrooms; fitness center with open fitness area for cardio and weights and group exercise room; men, women and family locker rooms; staff offices, public restrooms and building support spaces.

What are optional elements that the County would like if the budget allows?

Group exercise studio; solar thermal water heating systems; improved energy performance (perform 40% better than the mandatory requirements); therapy pool; 10m dive platform; and community room.