Architects update La Jolla Cove Pavilion restroom project

Responding to concerns raised by SCUBA divers at a December meeting of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) board, Taal Safdie of Safdie Rabines — the architectural firm tasked with producing schematic designs for the rebuild of the dilapidated restrooms at La Jolla Cove — presented modified plans at the Jan. 26 LJP&B meeting.

After the presentation, LJP&B voted to support the conceptual plans with the condition that architects be flexible to changes, especially regarding ADA-access.

The configuration presented in December, Safdie said, “was closer to the street, a little more linear and allowed for more of a view corridor from Scripps Park,” providing the natural feel the architects hoped for. However, the orientation and suggested tree plantings would have taken up a grassy area considered “sacred” and “a treasure” by SCUBA divers as a staging and gathering point.

Hoping to strike an acceptable compromise, Safdie unveiled new designs that preserve the gathering space, but also provide what the architects consider to be an aesthetically pleasing and functional restroom facility. The new facility is wider, closer to the “corner” of Coast Boulevard and the walking path leading to the Bridge Club, and oriented differently from the original design.

Safdie said the new facility includes the following amenities: closed men’s and women’s facilities (each with an ADA-compliant shower); one sink, three toilets and one ADA-toilet in the women’s; one sink, three urinals and one ADA-toilet in the men’s; a separate outside area with eight unisex toilet stalls; two family bathrooms with an ADA-toilet and a sink; three sinks; outdoor showers; hooks and benches for beach equipment; two storage areas; drinking fountains and the garbage corral.

There is still a walking path that divides the unisex stalls from single-sex facilities to provide a view corridor to the ocean from the park, and it also offers police officers a way to see through the facility from their cars while on patrol.

Safdie previously said there are no requirements for how many toilets need to be in a given area, but based on current use, planners determined more were needed. The proposed facility would be 1,700 square feet larger than the current one, according to the updated plans. Construction costs will be estimated when more formal designs are produced.

LJP&B and La Jolla Shores Association member Mary Coakley-Munk, who spearheaded the North Comfort Station restroom replacement project in Kellogg Park, said she had concerns with the proposed configuration of the Scripps Park facility.

“Putting sinks in the handicapped restrooms make them appealing to homeless people because they can wash their clothes ... and it’s a great place for drug users,” she said, suggesting the sinks be kept outside.

She added that considering participants in the Challenged Athletes triathlon use the Cove as part of their one-mile swim, the facility does not provide for opposite-sex assistance.

“A mother and son, father and daughter, caregiver with opposite sex client or Challenged Athletes who need assistance, would not be able to use the showers you have there without help.” Coakley-Munk suggested bookending the

facility with ADA-compliant, unisex shower rooms and an ADA-compliant unisex bathroom with no sink.

After other design changes were presented from the floor, LJP&B chair Dan Allen reminded those in attendance that the plans were schematic designs, and additional changes could be suggested as designs become more concrete.

According to the American Institute of Architects Best Practices manual, schematic designs are the first phase of a project, during which “an architect commonly develops study drawings, documents, or other media that illustrate the concepts of the design and include spatial relationships, scale, and form for review. Schematic design also is the research phase of the project, when zoning requirements or jurisdictional restrictions are discovered and addressed.”

To ensure that what is outlined in the schematic designs is actually what gets built once the plans are handed over to the city for construction (the city agreed to fund construction with $250,000 in Regional Park Improvement Funds), the architects suggested LJP&B privately fund the creation of “bridging documents,” as well.

Creating bridging documents, Allen said, allows for the Safdie Rabines’ design to be the basis on which the building permit applications are filed.

Safdie added, “The advantage is that you would get the final say on the design and then the contract or architect team that does the design-build, has to build it that way and can’t just change it without the community wanting it to change. If you take the sketches we have now to the city, they will hire someone to do bridging documents and through that, anything could happen.” Further, she said, should Safdie Rabines produce the bridging documents, the timeline to construction would be shortened by about a year.

La Jolla resident Judy Adams Halter, head of the committee organizing the project, said she planned to speak with the city in early February to discuss LJP&B using available funds to hire Safdie Rabines to produce the documents.

In other Parks & Beaches news

■ Half Marathon approved: LJP&B voted unanimously to support the La Jolla Half Marathon and La Jolla Shores 5K, April 26, which is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla. The finish line is in Scripps Park. Leisha Battles of In Motion, Inc. (the company organizing the event) said a portion of the park and the sidewalk around it would be left open to the public.

■ Board officers chosen: Bill Robbins, a member of LJP&B and frequenter to La Jolla Cove, was elected to the position of vice-president with unanimous support. Allen will continue as chair. The board also welcomed new member, Bob Evans, who fills the spot left by John Beaver, who missed three meetings.

■ Next meeting: 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. with two presentations about open space parks in La Jolla.