The Richmond Municipal Natatorium (Richmond Plunge), Point Richmond, CA


2011 California Governor's Historic Preservation Award, 

2011 California Heritage Council Award,

2011 California Preservation Foundation Design Award

Retaining its inherent beauty and cathedral-like quality, restoring many of the striking features of this historical gem and bringing the engineering of the building and swim facilities into the green 21st century, were paramount goals in the restoration of the Richmond Natatorium.  Today "the Plunge" is among the greenest and healthiest pools in the U.S.

With it's majestic-sized pool, this community icon much loved by young and old opened in 1926 and operated continuously until closed in August 2001 due to structural failure of its exterior walls. 

Significant alterations throughout its history had compromised the beauty and character of the original building.  The beautiful original roof clerestory monitor was removed from the building in the late 1950’s; we restored it as a critical component of original natatorium designs, providing essential natural illumination and ventilation.  In the 1970’s the beautiful tile surrounding the pool and on the pool deck was sandblasted in preparation for a fiberglass coating. This fiberglass coating was removed for the restoration and the tile work that echoes the original was brought back to the pool edge.

Throughout the project, these and all decisions on this $7 million restoration were made for practicality, beauty and longevity. Master craftspeople helped restore and renew the beauty of the facility, including: the wall-sized mural at the far end of the pool, the mosaic tile art, the restoration of the mushroom fountain, the bronze work, the native landscaping, and the hand-lettered signage.  Energy conservation methods reduce the electrical and gas load over a conventional municipal pool by about 50%.  Solar energy production generates about half the energy needs.  The combination of conservation and production lead to about 60-70% reduction in energy costs, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year at today’s energy costs. For a complete list of the stand-out features, please read this fact sheet.

Extensive media coverage includes Preservation Magazine, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more about the Plunge, visit News and


main.jpg Click thumbnails to view project photos.

deck_photo_1_sm.jpg plunge_at_dusk_sm.jpg locker_room_sm.jpg pool_3_sm.jpg neptune-tile_sm.jpg lobby_sm.jpg bathroom_sm.jpg pool_2_sm.jpg pool_1_sm.jpg