Marin County Civic Center Fountain

Reprinted from "Splash Lines"

Advanced Pool Coatings, a northern California company, specializes in producing a gun-shot fiberglass surface for existing residential and public pools. Following is a testimonial on their reputation and success during their experience resurfacing a historic fountain at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, California.

 A plaque outside the Marin County Civic Center marks it as historical landmark number 999, one in nearly a thousand--and surely today, one in many thousand more. Yet this structure stands truly alone not only as a beautiful public facility but as a pristine example of an architectural form envisioned by the late Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was best known for unwavering insistence on his own idea of perfection. And his theory of organic architecture, which is a complete synthesis of ground and building, is ideally executed in this, his last important work.

 Originally constructed in 1962, the long, horizontal structure gracefully unites three separate hills. Constructed of concrete, steel, and glass, the Civic Center combines classical elements with several of Wright’s more forward-thinking details. Decorative arches reminiscent of Roman aqueducts grace the length of the building. A bright blue barrel arch roof of pre-cast concrete mirrors the sky above. Skylights and atriums run down the center of each segment, lifting the eye upward and out to the golden hills and green trees or downward and in toward planters on the ground level. Natural light softly permeates every inch of walkway, and whimsical, circular accents throughout give the facility an "other-worldly" ambience not felt in traditional public buildings.

This unusual building has inspired even the imagination of Hollywood. The Civic Center was recently used as the set for the sci-fi film Gattaca. Viewing the movie after touring the building, you feel a deeper sense of wonder at Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision for buildings of the future.

 One of many circular formations throughout the Civic Center is the fountain. Located outside the cafeteria, this pool is part of a beautiful reception area that includes a terrace with patio tables overlooking a lawn and garden. A family of ducks often swims lazily along the channel leading to a spillway.  There is a waiting list for wedding receptions here.

 Until recently, this scenic fountain had a reputation for cracks and leaks. Jim Zortman, building maintenance manager for the department of Public Works in Marin County, was concerned about these defects. Of particular concern to Jim was the green cast to the water, which visually clashed with the blue roofline, much of which is meant to be seen by visitors at various levels throughout the facility. In light of the fact that the fountain is such a visible element, he gave it high priority when funds became available during a two-year seismic renovation of the Civic Center.

 Advanced Pool Coatings was chosen for the fountain’s complete refurbishing. The company had special considerations from the start with this project. The Civic Center is a public facility, operating daily, and the fountain is a central gathering place for employees and visitors alike. Advanced decided to do the job on the weekend in the hope that doing so would cause the least amount of disruption to daily routine at the Center.

 When asked if there was any public inconvenience that went along with the resurfacing job,  Jim agrees. "No one even realized there had been a job performed because it was done so neatly and quickly--all over a three-day holiday weekend. It was drained and fiberglassed, then filled in that brief time period."

 When asked about his satisfaction with the overall job, Jim continues, "It cured all of our former problems. We had lots of problems with leaks over the years and cracking in the original cement. I’m sure that [the fiberglass finish] will be a long-lasting cure."

 For aesthetic purposes, Advanced put color in with the fiberglass so that the pool perfectly reflects the blue of both the sky and the newly painted roof. The fountain is now a natural complement to the many other "organic" architectural elements of the Civic Center.  "It looks beautiful," said Jim.

 Sounds like even Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright would be pleased.

 There’s no telling where else you’ll find the crews of Advanced Pool Coatings these days. After an unusually temperate spring and a long, dry summer season, the fiberglass contractor can rightfully boast its most successful year yet. And with the endorsement of the YMCA, Sierra College, the San Juan School District, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the Marin County Civic Center, the company has every reason to expect more of the same kind of success in the future.

 Advanced Pool Coatings was founded in 1993, when two veterans of fiberglass pool resurfacing combined their expertise to form a company that provided quality work, a guaranteed finish, honest salesmanship and prompt, professional customer service.  Co-owners Dwight Johnson and Paul Walter have enjoyed a successful relationship since the start, each in his own way growing the company’s reputation into what is today.

 Kent Williams, pool consultant and founder of Professional Pool Owners of America (PPOA), often touts the advantages of fiberglass over alternatives such as plaster, paint, or vinyl. He says that ease of maintenance and durablity are two top reasons to consider fiberglass. "Algae just can’t seem to get a foothold, soils don’t adhere, and stains rarely occur in a fiberglass pool."  Moreover, aggressive water meets its match in fiberglass; "it simply has no effect on the surface." As a result, cleaning a fiberglass pool is relatively easy, owing to the smoothness and the impervious nature of the fiberglass finish. To the swimmer, the "orange-peel" texture of a fiberglass surface has a classic "plaster" feel, allowing for secure footholds and true push-offs.

 Several notable organizations in the area seem to agree with these statements. The YMCA of Sacramento has for years selected Advanced over other contractors, most of whom simply replaster failing pools.
  Adam McGowan, director of facilities and grounds for the YMCA, maintains the pools for Sacramento’s San Juan School District.  Of Advanced Pool Coatings, he says, "The company does really clean, detailed work.  They are competent, good people to work with."  During his four-year relationship with Advanced, the company has resurfaced five high school pools within the district as well as the YMCA’s own downtown Sacramento pool.  Adam has seen the advantage of fiberglass over replastering first-hand.  "The maintenance on a fiberglass pool is much easier than with plaster," he says.  "It is easier to clean up because it is less porous than plaster, so much so that it resists staining in the first place.  I like the product.  It is durable and has a much longer life than plaster.  Plus the finish is not abrasive to the foot, like plaster sometimes is.

 Residential pool owners appear to have the same positive reaction to fiberglass.  Besides, public pools and special projects like the ride facilities at Knott’s Berry Farm, Advanced Pool Coatings resurfaces many backyard pools a year.  The company finds the same level of satisfaction from these homeowners as it does from pool maintenance workers at public pools.

 With a reputation that is beginning to precede itself, Advanced Pool Coatings strives to please every one of its customers with its quality product and service.  Whether you maintain a historic fountain, several public pools, or simply the one in your own backyard, Advanced Pool Coatings is sure to meet, and even exceed, your expectations.