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Facilities Update

Sonora High School builds a new pool and upgrades its aquatic center

  • AQUATIC UPGRADE—Sonora High School’s new aquatic center includes a bigger 11-lane pool as well as improved locker rooms that feature new fixtures, brighter lighting and better ventilation. (Genevieve Wolff).
  • AQUATIC UPGRADE—Sonora High School’s new aquatic center includes a bigger 11-lane pool as well as improved locker rooms that feature new fixtures, brighter lighting and better ventilation.

The much anticipated third and final phase of a construction project at Sonora High School (Sonora Union High School District, Calif.) ended with the creation of a new aquatic center featuring a 25-by-30-yard outdoor community pool.

CHALLENGE: In 2012, the Sonora community voted for a $23 million bond to retrofit the school’s facilities. The project began with renovation of the humanities building in 2014, followed by the cafeteria and football field in 2015.

For the final phase, the school upgraded the aquatic center’s non-ventilated, cinder block locker room and replaced a shallow, leaky pool that had only six lanes and lacked gutter cleaners.

“There were trees next to the pool that dropped leaves into the water,” says Patrick Chabot, superintendent of Sonora Union High School District. “It clogged the gutters and burned out the motors.”

Architects faced a challenge in moving the new pool and aquatic center closer to the center of campus. Years earlier, the ground became unstable when the school straightened a nearby creek. “It was pretty difficult to put anything there,” says Chabot.

SOLUTION: Workers excavated nearly 5 feet of dirt around the pool, filled the space with stabilizing plastic foam, then topped it with a concrete deck. Foundations for the new locker room were leveled out by driving metal piles into the bedrock. The locker room now has hot water, blow dryers, improved lighting and well-ventilated windows.

The deep end of the new, 11-lane pool drops to 7 feet. One of its entry sections begins above water and gradually descends to a depth of 4 feet so younger children and seniors can get into the pool easily. “It’s almost like you’re at the beach, walking into the water,” says Chabot.

COMPLETION: August 2017

COST: $23 million ($6 million for pool and aquatic center)

PROJECT TEAM: Project manager: W.L.C. Construction Services (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.); architect: WLC Architects (Folsom, Calif.)