View Full Version : Swimming Pool

August 4th, 2005, 10:34 PM
Swimming pool on the roof of Hotel St. George Lycabettus in Athens, Greece.


August 5th, 2005, 09:14 AM
Looks like a large jacuzzi........ ;)

August 16th, 2007, 12:22 PM
Pools Conceived to Make a Splash

Michelle Litvin for The New York Times
As the market for new pools drops off, very high-end models account for an increasing share of
construction. Jennifer White and her son, Chase, use their 900-square-foot pool in St. Charles, Ill.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/16/garden/16pools.html?pagewanted=2)
August 16, 2007

NICOLE SASSAMAN, a 36-year-old designer and property developer, devoted three years to building the swimming pool of her dreams at her home in the Hollywood Hills. A 25-foot expanse of glittering blue and green glass tile from Italy, the pool, completed last year, cantilevers out from a steep hillside and hugs the 5,500-square-foot house — once Greta Garbo’s — so closely that the house appears to float on a sliver of blue. In the evening, the twinkling cityscape of Los Angeles is reflected in the water, which seems to drop off into the hills below.

“A pool should be more than a pool these days,” Ms. Sassaman said. “If you’re going to build one you should really try to set a mood and create some drama. It’s important that the pool is in a league of its own.”

Various pool builders and engineers Ms. Sassaman consulted told her that her site was far too steep for a pool, until David Tisherman, a luxury pool designer, agreed to build it. All the materials had to be carried onto the site by hand, and the project ended up costing about $500,000, she said. Still, she’s confident it was a wise investment. “It was what put the house in the over-the-top-category,” she said, helping her to sell it in November for $7.5 million. She estimates the pool added $1 million to the price tag.

Even as most residential property in America continues to lose value and the market for new pools stalls, the pool that’s more than a pool seems to be gaining ground. A recent survey by the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals showed that “high-end” pools starting at $75,000 (the average in-ground pool costs about $40,000) accounted for 40 percent of the new pool market in 2006, up from 20 percent three years before. Some of this increase may be due to homeowners like Ms. Sassaman, who see these pools as a way to ensure their homes’ places in the relatively stable “over-the-top” segment of the real estate market. But more than anything else, according to pool builders and designers, the drive toward the fabulous pool has been fed by a combination of people spending more of their time outside and a certain competitive acquisitiveness among their very rich clients.

“People now want to live in and around their pools,” said Dick Covert, executive director of the Master Pools Guild, a network of high-end custom pool builders. “In a very short amount of time, the swimming pool has gone from a recreation center to a complete environment.” And that environment has become an exotic and inviting place for those who can afford it, thanks to new design options and pool technologies: naturalistic or stylized lagoons, grottoes and moats; ledges and slides that have taken the place of the diving board; underwater sound systems; artificial water features that mimic the trickle or gush of natural ones; computer operated lighting; movie and television screens that rise out of the water.

“The high-end market seems to be exploding due to the influx of new technology,” said Penny Johnson, the spokeswoman for the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals.

Jill Connelly for The New York Times
Irison Jones hired designer Alan Jackson to create a pool with the feeling of a desert oasis,
with rock formations and a waterfall slide at his home in Lancaster, Calif.

Irison Jones, the owner of Blak Ice Records, a hip-hop and R&B label in Los Angeles, was drawn to a lagoon design because he wanted the feeling of a “desert oasis” at his Lancaster, Calif., home, he said. He hired Marc Nagel, a designer for Alan Jackson Pools in Palmdale, Calif., to create a curvy-contoured pool amid artfully arranged rock formations, with a waterfall slide leading down from an upper-level hot tub.

Seven masonry crews of five to ten men each carved boulders and cement into a naturalistic poolscape, with elaborate lighting and sound systems. Palm trees and tropical grasses were brought in to complete the picture. Mr. Nagel also designed an in-pool table with a top just above the water level, with a submerged banquette.

Jill Connelly for The New York Times
Mr. Jones's daughter, Issys, relaxes poolside.

The pool cost nearly $400,000, Mr. Jones said, and has been drawing the interest of neighbors, who peer over the property’s seven-foot fence — but that doesn’t mean he’s a satisfied customer. “When the market gets a little better,” he said, “I want to sell this house and build a much bigger and better pool.”

“It’s like anything,” he added. “Once you’ve created a cool space, you start to get more ideas. There are always new things hitting the market.”

Mr. Nagel said that most of his clients are interested in being “the envy of all their friends.” He is currently working on an all-marble pool in the shape of a dolphin — 60 feet from nose to tail — for the home of Ken and Georgia Chamitoff in Palmdale, Calif., which he estimates will cost nearly $300,000; the idea came from their 8-year-old daughter, Sophia. A hot tub will bubble by the dolphin’s head and a slide will drop down along the curve of its dorsal fin. “When you think you’ve heard it all, there’s always the client who comes up with something off the chart,” Mr. Nagel said.

“We didn’t want the typical tropical lagoon that everyone else has in the backyard,” Mrs. Chamitoff explained. “I think it was important to Ken that Sophia could talk about having a dolphin pool with her friends at school.”

Lou Downes, the owner of Downes Swimming Pool Company in Arlington Heights, Ill., which specializes in high-end pools, said some of the requests he gets are too outrageous to be realistic. “Everyone has this James Bond fantasy of swimming from the outdoor pool through a tunnel into the indoor pool,” he said. “We try to make everyone happy, but this just isn’t practical.”

For those clients, he recommends separate indoor and outdoor pools, like the ones he’s working on for a couple outside Chicago, with a koi pond visually linking the outdoor and indoor pools. The outdoor pool, which will have fiber-optically lighted and computer synchronized water jets, will cost about $1 million, Mr. Downes said; the whole project will be almost $2 million. “For me, high-end goes far beyond the price tag,” Mr. Downes said. “It’s more of a philosophy: It’s the blending of the finest materials and the most recent technology and a client who has a dream.”

Another couple he worked for recently, Bruce and Jennifer White, wanted a getaway at home. They have just built a 8,500-square-foot house in the western suburbs of Chicago, in a development in St. Charles where houses routinely sell for between $2 million and $5 million. Mr. Downes designed a 900-square-foot pool for them — they would not reveal its cost — with a black plaster bottom and an arcing “zero edge” wall over which water spills, and brought in close to 50 tons of bluestone for the coping and terrace. He located it about 200 feet from the house, to create a distinct area for it, accessible by a set of stairs and a narrow pathway that winds through a grove of pine trees. Thirty-inch copper-bowl torches were positioned at each end “to create a real gathering place,” said Mr. White, a commercial real estate developer. “It has almost a ‘Survivor’ look.”

It’s “like having a mini resort right in your own backyard,” Ms. White added.

Steve Legato for The New York Times

Robert and Nanette Zakian’s pool in Newtown Square, Pa.,
inspired by the ones at Hearst Castle.

Nanette Zakian, the president of a Pennsylvania company that distributes pool and spa accessories, said she had had a dream since childhood based on the indoor and outdoor pools at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, Calif.: “I wanted something amazing in tile.” She and her husband, Robert Zakian, an oriental rug dealer, hired Mr. Tisherman to build a pool at their home in Newtown Square, Pa. He had worked with many forms of tile in his pool designs, including 24-karat gold and silver-framed glass tile. The resulting pool, completed in October, at a cost Ms. Zakian would not divulge, is entirely lined in multicolored glass tiles, and has become the focal point for the couple’s frequent entertaining. They did not cover it up, even in cold weather. “We just didn’t want to hide it for the winter months,” she said.

Ryan Michael for The New York Times
Joseph and Bobbi Moran's two-story pool near Austin, Tex., is connected by a slide and waterfall and surrounded by staircases.

Not all over-the-top pool owners, though, set out to build showpieces. When Joseph and Bobbi Moran bought their 5,800-square-foot house outside Austin, Tex., two years ago they planned only to remodel the existing pool. But they were persuaded to go further by their designer, Brent Mowry of Mowry Pools in Austin.

When Mr. Moran saw the house for the first time, he said, it was essentially a tear-down. “But when I walked out onto that deck, I thought, ‘Damn, this is a million-dollar view and I need a pool that can keep up.’ ”

The Morans ended up spending what they said was a significant chunk of their overall renovation budget — which was a million dollars, as it happens — on a two-story pool connected by a slide and a recirculating waterfall with sweeping staircases on either side. The lines of the pools — the bottom one is 320 square feet and the top one 450 — mimic the shoreline of Lake Austin below. At night, they glow in one or more of the lighting system’s 24 programmable colors.

Ryan Michael for The New York Times
The Moran's pool curves mimic those of Lake Austin below.

Mr. Moran, an investment banker, is somewhat reticent about the interest the pool has attracted from neighbors and others, although he admits it’s been a subject of conversation. “We really wanted a place to hang out with the family, which we got,” he said, along with “something that truly adds to the value of the home.”

His wife, a stay-at-home mother, was more forthcoming. “We got a lot of local publicity about the house and the pool and it was in the local parade of homes,” she said. “I think about 600 people came through to take a look. We can see people driving slow by the house and I know they’re just dying to get in to see both the house and the pool. This is the first summer since the completion so it’s been quite the happening spot.”

“At first it made me nervous — all the people that had seen the house, but it’s a lot of fun to talk about,” she said. “People are really amazed by the before and after. It’s fun to see the look on everyone’s face when they see the pool.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company