The 62,500-square-foot Dougherty Valley High School Aquatic Facility was built to serve the new high school’s student body as well as residents of the rapidly growing eastern side of the city of San Ramon. This $7.25 million joint-use facility incorporates many design innovations and energy efficiency measures. It is a model for how an aquatics facility can serve a range of needs in responsive, ecologically responsible and cost-effective ways.

The original plans for the developer-funded Dougherty Valley High School called for a single pool that would serve only the high school’s needs — a 25-meter-by-25-yard swimming pool placed next to the locker/shower rooms of the large gymnasium, surrounded by a concrete pool deck and supported by a pool mechanical building.

However, leaders of the city and the San Ramon Valley Unified School District decided that a joint-use aquatics facility was needed to serve Greater San Ramon and the new high school. Whereas the high school needed a pool for swimming and water polo competitions, the city needed a facility that would offer a number of programs, such as lap swimming, swim lessons and family-oriented recreational swimming.

The revised plan for the joint-use program involved enlarging the pool to an Olympic-size, 50-meter-by-25-yards vessel; the addition of a 3,243-square-foot activity pool for young children; and a pool building of approximately 5,360 square feet. The pool building was designed to house community use locker/shower facilities; several city offices, storage spaces and a pool mechanical room. For the city-related aquatic activities, a separate metering system was specified to facilitate fair and accurate cost accounting.

The enlarged footprint of the joint-use complex presented certain challenges, including a sloping site. Terracing the entire site, especially at the pool complex level, was required, which in turn necessitated design solutions that minimized off-hauling of soil from the site and reduced the height of the new retaining walls that were needed. Costs and aesthetics were important design considerations that had to be balanced in the revised site plan.

The entire aquatics complex was designed to be “green.” Materials used in construction of the pool building are composed of renewable or reused resources. All HVAC water heaters are high-efficiency rated and connected to the campus’ energy management system. The pools’ pumps also are high-efficiency units, and their chlorination and acid systems consume the minimum amount of chemicals necessary for health and safety. The area is landscaped using plants that require little watering. The irrigation system recycles reclaimed water from the landscaped areas.

Since its completion, the facility has been very heavily used by high school and community alike. Its accessibility, attractiveness and functionality have been confirmed by its immediate and sustained popularity, and its low-cost, trouble-free operation.

The stakeholders involved in making this facility a “dream design” were the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, the city of San Ramon, Akol & Yoshii Inc. Architects in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Aquatic Design Group Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif., as well as other consultants.  These parties all played important roles in determining the configuration, function, design and decor of a year-round, state-of-the-art aquatics center that will serve Dougherty Valley High School and its surrounding community for decades to come.


Aquatic space: 62,500 square feet

Year opened: 2007

Cost: $7.25 million

Dream feature: Activity pool and splash features.


  • Dream Designer: Akol & Yoshii Inc. Architects
  • Consultant: Aquatic Design Group Inc.
  • Structural Consultant: Tipping -Mar
  • Electrical Consultant: WHM
  • Mechanical Consultant: Mechanical Design Studio
  • Construction Manager: Roebbelen Contracting
  • Pool Contractor: Western Water Features


  • Chemical Control Systems:Strantrol
  • Cleaner Vacuums: EKO-3 System
  • Covers: Thermal King
  • Dive Stands: Duraflex Intl. Corp.
  • Filters: EKO-3
  • Gutters: Rimflow and Cantilever
  • Heaters: Lochinvar Corp.
  • Lane Markers: Paragon Aquatics
  • Pumps: Paco Pumps
  • SprayPark Accessories: Vortex Aquatics Structures Intl. Inc.


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