Construction Complete on Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation and Aquatic Center Designed by KAI Design & Build


As February marks Black History Month, minority-owned KAI Design & Build reflects on one of its most meaningful recent projects - the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation and Aquatic Center in Atlanta, GA.

Opened in October 2017, the $24 million facility, designed by KAI Design & Build in partnership with architectural firm Perkins+Will, features a striking likeness of Martin Luther King, Jr. on its facade as it stands as a cornerstone for the local community.

"The design for this new recreation and aquatic facility sought to represent an inclusive public amenity that is truly welcoming to all," said KAI President Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. "I am humbled to have been a part of such a historic project. My hope is that this facility will be half as great as the man it represents."

MLK's daughter, Dr. Bernice King, spoke at the opening ceremony, noting that her father was an avid swimmer, but that her mother had never learned to swim. She expressed gratitude for the new facility, which she said gives young people an opportunity to enjoy swimming, just as her father did.

KAI worked with the City of Atlanta's Department of Parks and Recreation to design a state-of-the-art, public facility that would promote community involvement and inclusion. The center is located at 110 Hilliard Street between the King Memorial MARTA station and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District. The original Martin Luther King, Jr. Natatorium, which opened in 1979, closed in 2012 due to structural issues.  

In addition to being the lead architect on the project, KAI provided design-build MEP engineering criteria and design team project management on the new, two-story recreation and aquatic center, located just blocks from the original natatorium. The new pool was part of a $250 million Renew Atlanta Bond approved by voters in 2015.

The new, 63,000-square-foot facility includes a four-lane, 25-yard lap pool; leisure pool; fitness and weight room; climbing wall; multipurpose gymnasium; elevated walking/jogging track; recreation classrooms and locker rooms. Community and administrative elements include a multi-use event space with a warming kitchen to accommodate 200 people, a senior center, lounge area, computer lab, workroom, staff offices, storage, outdoor terrace and a substation for the Atlanta Police Department.

The building's design also maximizes access from multiple directions for public transportation and the parking lots. The light-filled central lobby extends upward to connect the main floor and mezzanine. The centerpiece of the facility's design is the glass-enclosed natatorium with a direct visual connection to the central lobby and onto an outdoor plaza for community activities. KAI designed the center to achieve a LEED Silver certification for energy efficiency.

For more information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation and Aquatic Center, visit