Restoration work began in early 2010 with the selection of two contractors. Due to funding requirements, two separate construction projects were undertaken at the same time. Wu & Associates was awarded the contract to restore the Bath House and Day Camp, reconstruct the two open-air pavilions at the Day Camp, and construct new accessibility and landscape features, while DeSapio Construction began work on the new snack bar, plaza, walkways, and decorative fencing. Close coordination and cooperation between the contractors, FMG Architects, Ewing Township, and Mercer County guaranteed site work continued efficiently and with consideration during the active 2010 and 2011 summer pool and camp seasons.
At the Bath House, demolition work made way for the treatment of existing materials, and the installation of new structural components and replicated finishes. The snack bar, appended to the Bath House in the late 1950s, was removed and the remaining exterior block wall was carefully brought back to its original condition using the Torbo mechanical paint removal system. The interior concrete block walls, originally made of a Way Lite block typically comprised of expanded shale or pumice, were demolished due to their poor condition and to accommodate required accessible features in the changing rooms. After several mockup attempts to replicate the texture and color, Clayton Concrete produced the final block. Installation followed the mortar application methods detailed in Kahn’s original specifications. The new asphalt roof shingles, representing the original black ones, along with the new block walls and replicated mural, complete Kahn’s signature work.
Over the years, exposure and site conditions damaged concrete floor slabs and other structural components. The removal of the damaged components revealed a perched water table. This problem was remedied with an underdrain system, and other electrical and plumbing components were also installed. The need for a new concrete floor provided the opportunity to install a circular, composite gravel feature, much different from but representative of the 1955 atrium. A new, hidden “gutter” system, located in the two interior walls of the Bath House, prevents roof runoff from deteriorating the top courses of the walls.
Areas throughout the Bath House, especially in the changing rooms, were redesigned to meet accessibility requirements, current plumbing and health codes, and present-day user needs. As much as possible, new fixtures, finishes, and furniture represent Kahn’s original design details, including slate partitions between showers and changing areas, a sinker cypress desk and shiplap storage closet doors, and wire mesh entrance gates. Health and lifeguard offices were added to the “basket room,” and the pool filtration equipment was moved out of the underground vault to a new building on site to meet current Township facility operations. New lighting fixtures were added for night use and security.
At the Day Camp, the two open-air pavilions were demolished after documentation in accordance with HABS standards. New construction consisted of poured slab and beam over filigree composite deck to represent the original flexicore system. Structural steel within footings and concrete slab-on-grade support the composite deck. Wood fascia and terra cotta tile details represent Kahn’s original use of materials. New landscape elements—a circular curb and surface material (Sta-Lok)—finish the Day Camp setting while meeting the Township’s programming needs. The two closed pavilions received new paint, rubber roof membranes, and wood fascia.
The Bath House restoration became a catalyst for many landscape improvements on the site. The removal of the snack bar required construction of a new free-standing one, which prompted the further redesign of the existing plaza in accordance with Kahn’s 1957 plan. The new plaza, whose southern fenced edge aligns with the south walls of both the snack bar and Bath House, is designed with a repetitive score pattern, which flows up to the pool deck, unifying this pedestrian space with the Bath House.
Completing the Bath House bosque, 22 skyline thornless honey locust trees were planted 20 feet on center along the front of the Bath House. These first plantings carried over to new parking and landscape improvements made in 2011. A 130-by-130 foot community green is bordered on the north and south by 28 London plane trees planted on grid with the bosque. A planned system of pedestrian walkways completes the green while providing safe access through the parking lot and across the drives to the Bath House entrance. The remainder of the parking area is finished with a variety of trees, including red maple, tulip poplar, pin and red oaks, and Redmond linden. The vegetative landscape and new porous pavement improves site drainage and makes the site more usable for outdoor functions.