Samohi’s new Olympic-sized pool will come complete with an Icarus-like problem: it will receive too much sun — initially.
How to provide shade for Samohi’s new Discovery Building pool while keeping costs down was discussed at a Thursday, June 27 Santa Monica Malibu Unified School Board meeting.
The currently-in-construction pool is part of the Samohi Discovery Building Project, a project that would add 38 classrooms to the campus, as well as a full-service kitchen, indoor and outdoor dining areas, a rooftop classroom, parking spaces and more.
Due to factors contributing to the project potentially going over budget from its intended budgetary target — tariff-related changes in steel and material costs, competitive market conditions and higher than anticipated escalation among several reasons — district staff sought cost-conscious decisions to save money.
Among the proposals was reducing the pool size, eliminating solar panels and eliminating the rooftop classroom.
Constructing the pool without the originally-included shade structure, a potential cost-reduction of $3 million, was accepted by the board at a June 6 SMMUSD board meeting.
The board asked staff to return at the June 27 meeting with more research and details in regards to alternative shade options, whether the shade canopy is needed, and maintenance and longevity of the originally proposed structure.
Bond Program Manager Consultant Steve Massetti presented the board with his team’s finding, noting the longevity and hassle-free nature of the originally proposed shade structure.
After noting the benefits and needs of the structure — protecting students from UV rays, reducing light variation during water polo, increasing privacy from classroom windows — that it was difficult to classify the original shade structure as a necessity.
After showing two alternative shade-creating designs, including a cantilevered option that would cost nearly $2 million that was described as being able to “might provide shade”, board member Jon Kean expressed his displeasure.
“When you set out to build something, you build it right,” Kean said. “I’m incredibly frustrated. Frustrated that we were given something we couldn’t execute, frustrated at the design … they have given us alternatives that don’t do anything. The one with fewer beams might provide shade. We’re not spending two million on something we think might provide shade.”
Kean continued, voicing concerns about whether the pool top would be too hot for students to walk on, whether temporary shade screens could be set up, wondering what would happen if there’s no shade structure at all.
He celebrated the fact that the school would have an Olympic-sized pool, saying he remained hopeful that within the two years of the pool’s construction, a solution could be found.
Board member Ralph Mechur thanked the team for working quickly and voiced his approval for the pool.
He said having an outdoor pool should prove less of a health risk than indoor pools and said added that having an outdoor pool in conjunction with selective materials used should mitigate any concerns about potential feet-burning.
“It’ll be a wonderful, magnificent pool,” Mechur said. “There are issues to be dealt with with the sun in any sport, you can see that in the women’s World Cup games, there are shade issues. I wish it could be perfect but we don’t have the financial capacity to do everything we want to do, even in our classrooms with our students. So, we should all say its something we can’t have. But it’s gonna be great, the community is going to love it.”
Massetti said his team will continue looking for options and will return to the board if a solution is found.