The Othello Community Pool had always been a safe, fun, family-oriented facility and very popular among citizens of Othello, Wash. In 2005, however, the pool was closed because of unsafe and deteriorating conditions, leaving the next-closest pool 26 miles away in Moses Lake.

The community raised approximately $3 million to replace the pool and issued a request for proposals to design-and-construction teams asking for ideas as to what they could get for that amount. As with all clients, the wish list was long and included “must-haves” such as the lap pool, zero-depth entry pool, and waterslide, as well as upgrades to the bathhouse. Due to the pool’s importance to the community, city officials faced the challenge of restoring it very quickly and thus decided to use a design-build approach.

The design-build process has grown explosively in Washington in recent years. Unlike the traditional design-bid-build in which designers and contractors are selected independently, the design-build process allows the designer and contractor to work together from start to finish. Key benefits of this approach include the ability of the owner to work with a coordinated team, a shorter project delivery time, and savings of time and money.

As a pioneer of the use of the design/build process, ORB Architects was able to work efficiently and effectively with the city and the design/build team to design and construct the new Othello Community Pool under budget and three months ahead of schedule. The new pool area offered everything the city had required, even exceeding expectations with additional features such as a lazy river and multiple water/play equipment elements.

Fortunately, the location chosen was already the site of a pool and therefore had all the utilities required in place. The community was able to get demolition services for the old pool donated and therefore minimized the extent of excavation required. The design took this into consideration as well.

The pool was designed to fit uniquely into the city of Othello and sized to configure to meet the needs of the swim team, as well as the site and demographics of the population it serves.

The pool design uses a single body of water that connects a lap pool with a lazy river and fan-shaped, zero-depth pool with spray features. Even the waterslide is designed to sit on top of the surge pit and use that water directly for the slide.

Colors and themes for the facility design were inspired by Othello’s history and the iconic water towers in town, which are red and white. We opted for a red waterslide to echo that symbol. As the most public “tower” in the town, the slide not only offers great views of town, but reinforces the symbolic nature.

The colors for the roofs of the bathhouse and the mechanical building were chosen to match other structures within the surrounding parks and ball fields.

To meet the tight schedule and be innovative, our team used a Myrtha pre-fabricated pool system. This allowed the team to build out much of the project simultaneously and accommodated the desire for a unique custom design. The system is durable and long-lasting, but should the city ever need to replace the pool again, the pre-fabricated metal panels can be recycled.

The team also innovatively reused the existing building — which previously housed the small changing area and mechanical room — for the upgraded filtration and circulation system, a new concession stand to allow the facility to earn more revenue, and a new multi-purpose room for rentals and staff use. For the old block building to look as new as everything else, its exterior was painted to match the block pattern of the new bathhouse and a new roof was added.

By reusing the old bathhouse building, the design saved on waste in demolition and the materials that would have been needed to rebuild the equivalent space anew. The bathhouse is also designed to use very little energy, as it allows for natural cross-ventilation via large louvered end vents with open scissor trusses through the building. In addition, natural light inside reduces the need for electric lighting. Water use is controlled by automatic shut-off fixtures, including sinks and showers. Durable, long lasting materials were used throughout that facilitated ease of maintenance and benefited the life-cycle costs of operating the pool.

In general, the facility used durable, locally made materials including the sustainable block walls that will provide ease of maintenance and will last many years. In the future, this facility can take advantage of the sunny central Washington days to employ a hydronic solar heating system on the new sloped roofs. Lastly, a unique feature is that the pool itself is built on recyclable aluminum.

For the pools’ boiler system, high efficiency boilers (82%) were used. In addition, all the pumps were high-efficiency with variable speed drives in order to conserve energy.

Because city officials recognized the importance of the pool to the Othello community and acted quickly to hire the experienced ORB team, the challenge to reopen the pool as quickly as possible, as well as the challenge to improve and not just replace, its amenities were exceeded. The Othello Community Pool is once again a popular center for swim teams, swimming lessons, and overall summer fun.

This facility, a dream design to the City of Othello, achieves a level of aquatic recreation in a small community that is too often reserved only for larger, wealthier communities or private facilities. The design-build team takes great pride in being able to deliver this type of community project that contributes to the health and pleasure of its citizens.


Aquatic space: 29,000 square feet

Year opened: 2007

Cost: $2.6 million

Dream feature: Leisure amenities — including a 2,800-square-foot leisure pool, lazy river and spray park — that complement a traditional 25-yard outdoor pool.


  • Dream Designer:ORB Architects Inc.
  • General Contractor: Apollo Construction
  • Pool Construction/Supplier: WMS Aquatics


  • Chemical Control Systems: Chemtrol
  • Filters:Pentair
  • Flooring & Gutters: Myrtha
  • Heaters:Laars
  • Ladders/Grab Bars: Myrtha
  • Lockers: Comtec
  • Pumps: Pentair
  • Sanitization Systems:PPG Chlorinators
  • Spraypark Accessories: Vortex
  • Water Slides: Whitewater West Industries Ltd.


View Othello Community Pool in a larger map.