Fort Worth’s Quorum Architects is staying busy at Six Flags Over Texas, including in the recent opening of the Aquaman Power Wave water coaster.
The firm didn’t design the ride itself, that was Mack Rides of Germany. But Quorum was involved in the design and construction of the ride site and related structures – something the firm has done for several years.
The Aquaman Power Wave water coaster is the first of its kind in North America, and 14th roller coaster at the Arlington amusement park.
The ride launches riders backward and forward on more than 700 feet of track up to the top of two 150-foot towers. After being lifted up to a 90-degree angle, the riders then drop straight down at 63 mph, ending with a plunge through a giant wave of water.
“Few people realize that an architect is involved with the design and construction of the thrill rides at the park,” said architect and entertainment design team leader, Arthur Calcaterra, 46.
Quorum Architects has been working with the Arlington amusement park for more than 10 years. Team members plan and design the ride sites and related structures and for this project, the pool.
For Calcaterra, working with Six Flags is something he’s done most of his life. He started working there while he was a high school student at Masonic Home and School in Fort Worth and continued there through his time at the University of Texas at Arlington studying architecture.
At first he was selling soft drinks and ice cream, but then he moved on to something more in line with his career plans.
“At some point, I figured out that they had a drafting position in the maintenance department and that they always hired an architecture student,” he said.
So for a few years, he worked in the maintenance department performing whatever drafting was needed.
He left Six Flags to begin his career, but always stayed in contact with his boss at Six Flags. He ended up at Quorum Architecture about 18 years ago.
About 11 years ago, he was contacted by his former boss at Six Flags, saying their architect was retiring. He asked Calcaterra if Quorum would be interested in working with Six Flags. Calcaterra was excited about the chance to be involved with the park again.
“I couldn’t email my boss at Quorum fast enough when they reached out,” said Calcaterra.
Quorum’s Founding Principal, Scott Wilson, said Calcaterra’s experience adds a lot to their park projects.
“Arthur has a special fondness for these projects and a long connection with the Arlington park, having worked there for several years as a teen,” he said.
For the Aquaman rides, Calcaterra said Six Flags purchases the ride from the designer Then it is handed off to Quorum who figures out how to fit the ride into the park.
“From that point on, everything that goes with it, we have to help coordinate,” he said.
Quorum hires the structural engineer and coordinates the civil engineer and electrical engineer.
“We have to really dig into the ride to get it set up,” Calcaterra said.
Among the challenges this ride posed was its heavy use of water.
“It’s a pretty complicated system because within a matter of so many seconds, the water has to come out and be ready for the next vehicle,” he said.
Quorum’s first project at Six Flags was redoing the Bugs Bunny Boomtown children’s area and since then has designed the Hall of Justice, Gotham City, the Battle for Metropolis and El Diablo.
“It’s been a fun transition from having worked there to now working with them on these large-scale projects,” Calcaterra said.
Quorum has also done work at Hurricane Harbor, across Interstate 30 from Six Flags, and for other Six Flags parks, including in Oklahoma City, California and New Jersey.
“We’ve kind of expanded beyond Arlington,” said Calcaterra.
Calcaterra just earned his architecture license last year and he’s glad he’s been able to continue working for his former employers.
“We’re doing the coffee shop at the front,” he said. “So we’re not done by any means. They’re very consistent about keeping the park updated, so there will be more to do.”
Quorum Architects, founded in 1992, also provides retail, municipal, animal care, corporate, industrial, and housing architectural and interior design services.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.