Award-winning Jacksonville, Fla., pool and spa project

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0209 Choice

The client was refurbishing an historic riverfront house in Jacksonville, Fla., and wanted to create a truly special project that would draw people to the yard and down to the Saint Johns river 200 feet beyond. They wanted the project to be "striking," but not to compete with views of the the two-and-a-half-mile-wide river.

Pools By John Clarkson found a yard that was in a state of complete neglect before the project started, requiring extensive grading and compaction. But this provided a relatively clean slate for designer Joel Hartman.

The 13-foot drop from the back of the house to the river was addressed with a series of levels defining spaces for the house, the pool, the spa and the waterfront. This also created remarkably different views from each area. Seen from the house, the vanishing-edge pool leads the eye to the river creating an elegant, minimalist vista. From the river, the view emphasizes the grand stairways and the stately home.

The project uses over 3,000 square feet of multi-colored quartzite tiles set on a concrete base. A sand-colored prefab bullnose coping complements and balances the many rich colors of the quartzite. Tropical Isle pebble finish with decorative Mediterranean tiles on the vanishing edge wall and perimeter, and a Mediterranean blue tile on the weir, add detail. Fiber-optic lights concealed under the coping light the vanishing-edge wall.

The colorful tile is repeated in the outdoor kitchen to the east, which is tucked under mature trees that were preserved during construction. Pergolas add additional shade and architectural character. The custom spa was located on the lower level so the homeowners would be closer to the river when relaxing. Casual furniture groupings throughout the property provide various views of the pool, the backyard and the river.

The 20-by-50-foot pool holds just over 30,000 gallons. The pool and spa have completely separate plumbing systems, using mostly 2½-inch and 3-inch plumbing. Each uses a two-speed pump and each uses its own cartridge filter, but the gas heater and heat pump are plumbed to be shared between the pool and the spa. Both are sanitized with a salt system.

The vanishing edge, the cleaning system and the water arches each use their own low-wattage booster pumps and the vanishing-edge pump has its own filter. The drains are MDX with side suction and there are vent lines in the pool, the trough and the spa.

Each month we feature one of 11 annual AQUA Choice winners. The 2009 honorees are: Botanical Decorators, Olney, Md. • Catalina Pool & Spa, Maple Ridge, British Columbia • Da Vida Pools, Austin, Texas • Ocean Quest pools by Lew Akins, Belton, Texas • Pools By John Clarkson, Jacksonville, Fla. • Rosebrook Pools, Libertyville, Ill. • Royal Oasis Pools & Spas, Medford, Ore. • Southernwind Pools, Dallas, Texas • Tumber & Associates, Orangeville, Ontario • Wise Pool Company, Conroe, Texas. For more information about AQUA Choice or to enter the competition, visit

Delicious Details

Once the AQUA Choice judges have made their decisions, the remaining entries leave us with an embarrassment of pool-idea riches. Here are some of the details that caught the editor's eye.

5 J 209 AqDistinguished Pools, Inc
Poway, CA

The combination of stone, recycled glass tile and tumbling water is what makes this weeping wall special.

Custom-made Polaris water nozzles - one spanning 14 feet and two spanning seven feet each - deliver the water to the wall. Distinguished Pools hand fabricated each piece of coping that covers the water nozzles, creating a veneer that hides the mechanics while keeping the full face of the tumbled stone cap to maintain unity with the surrounding coping. Dark gray plaster keeps the water a soothing blue and makes the whole effect unique.

5 L 209 AqRosebrook Pools, Inc.
Libertyville, Ill.

The monumental hearth and open fireplace acts as an exclamation point at the edge of this pool. Black onyx Diamondbrite surface in the pool and spa facilitates the bold reflections.

5 K 209 AqHippo Pools
Granada Hills, Calif.

Set atop a three-story Mediterranean-modern home, this manufactured pool and portable spa make the most of a small space and a dramatic view. Hippo custom fabricated dual vanishing edges and reinforced the fiberglass shell so the pool is free standing, thus maximizing the limited space.

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