It’s summer. It’s hot. Time to take a dip. Sadly, not everyone has that opportunity, especially those in underserved communities of which Los Angeles has plenty. Lehrer Architects is rectifying the situation for some with the Algin Sutton Recreation Center. Working with the City of Los Angeles, native Michael B. Lehrer and his team embarked on a passion project: providing a sense of community for public play and exercise within a 17-acre park. At the heart of the complex stands an immense 8,800-square-foot new pool. Just opened, it beckons after more than a year’s pandemic delay. The glorious watery expanse is joined by another aquatic feature, a 4,200-square-foot mirrored splash pad along with changing facilities and shaded lounge areas. Who wouldn’t want to take the plunge?
Though everything is out in the open, Lehrer and his team gave the area a sense of enclosure with a soaring canopy that can be seen from the entire park and even nearby streets. Call it a beacon for the community, call it a quasi-club. What it’s really about is place making. “As an architect, this is as good as it gets,” says Lehrer. “Conceive places to be their very best selves. Hang in there throughout the harrowing process of getting them built. Then bask in the joy of the community fulfilled and gleeful with having its own public pool, club, and park.” Bold splashes of primary colors add to the exuberance, elevating such ordinary elements as fencing and paving to the extraordinary. Physical attributes aside, the project stands as an act of social justice.