Historic San Diego Swimming Pool “The Plunge” Gets a Beautiful New Home from OpenAire.
OpenAire to build 21,000 square foot retractable enclosure for Belmont Park’s Plunge swimming pool as part of major renovations.
One of San Diego, California’s most iconic swimming pools will soon have a beautiful new enclosure, thanks in part to the innovative retractable and skylight firm OpenAire. The Plunge, a historic San Diego swimming pool in Mission Beach’s Belmont Park, has been closed for renovations and repairs, which will include a brand new curved-roof retractable enclosure, measuring 103′-7” by 203′-11 ¾”, with one full gable end and one upper gable end, built by OpenAire. One end of the enclosure is connected to an existing athletic club which is also being renovated and renamed FIT Athletic Club. To accommodate the club, OpenAire is constructing a 25’ wide two-story mezzanine within the enclosure, which runs the entire 203’ length.
Developer Pacifica Enterprises decided to construct a new enclosure for the facility when maintenance revealed that the 91-year-old pool required extensive repairs to the steel framed, lead painted structure. Dan Hayden, Director of Engineering for Pacifica stated, “The pool has had to endure a marine environment on the outside and a humid environment on the inside,” noting neither condition was favorable to the conventional materials used in the old building, which he said, “was literally disintegrating”. Renovations will restore the pool’s floor with tiles that are faithful to its original design, while OpenAire’s new freestanding enclosure will allow visitors to experience this historic pool in an entirely new way.
OpenAire’s unique all aluminum, maintenance-free frame will withstand both the harsh interior and exterior environments that attacked the previous structure. The retractable enclosure solution will include 12 curved roof bays measuring 16 feet on center and stretching across the width of the building, 10 of which will have motorized operable panels that can open and close at the touch of a button. These bays will let in the direct sunshine and fresh air of warm days, while also providing shelter from cool or inclement weather. Whether open or closed, the polycarbonate panels will provide ample natural light, letting swimmers feel like they are in an outdoor pool in any weather. In combination with the opening roof, the vertical walls incorporate motorized windows and doors including four 11’ x 9’ high glass upward doors, ten 13’ x 8’ high double hung windows and fifteen 13’ x 4’ high pivot windows, to let in cross breezes and enhance the natural ventilation. The result will be a revolutionary open atmosphere that still maintains the original look of The Plunge.
“This design is going to give an amazing new experience to everyone who loves Belmont Park,” says Mark Albertine, President and CEO of OpenAire, “We are working closely with Belmont Park and their development partners to make sure these new renovations stay true to the spirit of The Plunge. OpenAire’s enclosure integrates perfectly with the building next to it. There is a flat roof section at one end of our enclosure, which FIT Athletic Club’s architects designed with us so that the two buildings match seamlessly. It’s a great example of how OpenAire is equipped to adapt our designs to our clients’ specific needs.”
The Plunge first opened to the San Diego community in 1925 and was at the time the largest salt water pool in the world. It includes many distinctive features, which the renovators are working to preserve. In particular, the famous Wyland whaling mural on the south wall will be fully restored and cast in vibrant sunlight from the glazed operable roof above. The reopened pool will also use fresh water with a modern filtration system that requires far fewer chemicals than before. OpenAire’s thermally broken aluminum frame will resist corrosion from all remaining chemicals and moisture, ensuring that The Plunge can continue offering an aquatic retreat to San Diego for decades to come. The renovation is sure to be a winning solution for everyone.