“We’re ecstatic to be in the new tower, which we’ve been in since mid-June,” said Lifeguard Services Sgt. Ed Harris.
“Space,” replied Harris when asked what the biggest difference is between the new and old towers.
Noting the new tower has ample room for male and female lockers, restrooms and a modern kitchen, Harris said there’s a separate storage facility now in the middle of the parking lot.
“We used to have equipment stored up by the high school on Nautilus,” he said. “We’ve put it here in the garage. It’s great.”
Associate city engineer Jihad Sleiman, a liaison between the community and city on the project, said the new tower’s design is as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing.
“The old boardwalk had a huge kink in it where bicyclists and skateboarders used to run into one another,” he said. “Look at it. It’s so beautiful. So nice. It looks futuristic.”
Asked whether she missed the old high-rise tower, Shores resident Susan Goulian said, “Not at all. Here we have an unobstructed view and this tower, from the distance — you can’t see it. They did a wonderful job.”
Approved by the city in 2002, it took years for the new Shores lifeguard tower to be funded. But it was all worth it, said all of the parties involved.
Project designers Rick Espana and Ralph Roesling from Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, Inc., who were at the open house, talked about overcoming challenges in the tower’s design.
“[The community] said, ‘Make it disappear,’ ” said Espana. “Obviously, we couldn’t do that. So the next best thing was to go with a thin profile.”
Roesling discussed the architectural feat behind the tower.
“We wanted the scale to be more like a residence where you feel warmer,” said he said. “The idea of just making the stairs the tower allows you to make it very compact and almost transparent. The tower actually really floats at that point.”
The tower, Espana said, is “unlike any other lifeguard station that’s out there right now. We think the best part of it was opening up the park.”
The project, Roesling said, was a pleasure for the architects, given all of its challenges.
“This was one of the most fun projects that we’ve ever done in our office because of all the structural challenges, and getting in all the amenities that the lifeguards had to have,” said Roesling. “It really was like dealing with a custom home, trying to get everything in the right place.”
San Diego lifeguard Chief Rick Wurts stood a few hundred yards down from the new tower in the footprint of the old tower.
“If you go down the beach toward the water’s edge and you look up, it really does disappear into the background,” he said.
Wurts said the project is a win-win all around.
“It’s great for the community,” he said. “It’s great for the lifeguards, provides us a better vantage point for water observation. The way it sits out provides a better view corridor for the people who are here. Having the garage here is incredibly helpful. We look forward to this tower taking us into the future for many years.”