MAPEI PRODUCTS ON THE JOBSITE
Owned by Pacifica Enterprises (a San Diego-based development company) since 2012, The Plunge shut down in 2014 due to unsafe conditions stemming from a leaking roof. Pacifica took the opportunity of the closure to completely renovate the natatorium literally from the ground up, or rather from the roof down. Pacifica spokesman Chris Wahl said that initially the company believed that they could simply repair the building and the pool, but deeper inspection revealed other issues besides the leaking roof, such as corrosion in the structure’s steel columns and beams.
As the inspections progressed, it was determined that all 21,000 square feet (1 951 m2) of the building had to be demolished, leaving only girders surrounding the historic pool. The new natatorium features a glass facade instead of the original Spanish Renaissance stucco walls that did not withstand the constant buffeting from saltwater spray. The historic pool was also given a facelift and returned to the splendor of the past – courtesy of Lusardi Construction and Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors, working with MAPEI.
“From the beginning, Pacifica and the general contractor, Lusardi Construction, knew that they wanted a period-correct feel for the tiling in the pool and the surrounding rooms,” said Dennis Sandell, MAPEI’s TSIS sales representative for San Diego and Palm Springs. “They contacted Mark Columbus at Christian Brothers to act as the consultant and installing contractor. It was Mark who brought MAPEI on board early on. In fact, he and I helped to put the specification together.”
Columbus and Sandell proposed using MAPEI for a full system that would allow the pool to be filled with water 72 hours after the tile was installed.
“The pool’s surface was shotcrete,” Sandell continued. “It was in bad shape. The Christian Brothers crew had to float the substrate with a dry pack of Mapelastic 315 with Planicrete AC in the mix to adhere to the surface, as well as to add flexibility to the mortar bed.”
The spec called for period-correct 3/4" x 3/4" (19 x 19 mm) tiles, which were installed using MAPEI’s Granirapid System. The premium, rapid-setting, flexible tile mortar allowed for the “quick” installation of 1,700 sq. ft. (158 m2) of mosaics in the Olympic-sized pool. The tiles were grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA. The pool’s perimeter was caulked with Mapesil T. “The tiles mark the water line, they mark the depth, they decorate the historic pedestal, in addition to tiling the pool,” Sandell explained.
In the showers, steam rooms, bathrooms, pool area and a gym rechristened with the name “Fit,” the Christian Brothers crew first roller-applied Mapelastic AquaDefense waterproofing membrane. They then installed large-format tiles with Ultraflex LFT mortar and grouted them with Ultracolor Plus FA. For the exterior cladding, the large panel tiles were installed with MAPEI Ultralite S2 mortar and grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.
For a pool plagued with past issues, were there any challenges on this project? Sandell chuckled at the question. “Every time something would come up on site, we [MAPEI] would have a solution,” he said. The tile installation portion of the sprawling renovation took one year from start to finish, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019.
“The biggest problem actually gave us a great opportunity to provide a solution,” Sandell said. “After the tile contractor waterproofed the pool, the GC had to cut out several holes in the pool walls to raise the drains. We spec’ed Planitop 330 Fast for the vertical repair. This product allowed them to achieve a quick cure so that they could quickly turn around and re-waterproof these areas.”
Although as of this publication, The Plunge has yet to re-open to the public. When it does, the pool will be in all of its former splendor, thanks in large part to MAPEI.