Originally designed in the mid-1920s, the natatorium of Downtown Los Angeles' exclusive Jonathan Club underwent an unsympathetic renovation in the 1960s that degraded much of its historic character. Los Angeles architecture firm Tim Barber Ltd. renovated the room to correct the woefully mismatched tiles, and remove and replace inappropriate florescent lighting with historically appropriate lighting. They also added discreet supplemental lighting via the faux windows, and created stylistically appropriate entrances to the new women's changing rooms in the formerly male-only complex. Photo by Laura Hull.

Jonathan Club Natatorium Renovation

When approached by one of the oldest private clubs in downtown Los Angeles to renovate their 1920s natatorium, we jumped at the chance to take on such a unique project.  To reverse the “re-muddling” of past decades, we turned to archival photographs of the original pool. We replaced mismatched 1960s wall tile with mosaic tile color-matched to the original.  We changed standard issue steel doors to deco-inspired ones and restored and replicated original brass fittings.

One of the biggest challenges was bringing more light to this dimly-lit interior space.  Replacing the 1960s light fixtures above the pool would distract swimmers.  Instead, we added indirect cove lighting to the existing coffered ceiling, bathing the pool area in warm, soft light.  Along the side aisles of the pool, we specified lighting fixtures which closely resembled the original 1920s fixtures.  We installed back-lit light wells in the long-ago-covered windows with new grilles to match the doors. Now, a formerly dark and uninviting space encourages club members to take the plunge.

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