Award-winning pool project in Conroe, Texas

Choice Logo120No matter how big, bold or beautiful a poolscape may be, if it doesn't work with the home it sits next to, it simply doesn't work. On the other hand, a pool and landscape that complement the architecture, scale and style of the home can transform an entire property into a work of art. When Wise Pool Company of Conroe, Texas, built this Texas-sized pool as part of a multimillion-dollar home reconstruction in Houston, it could have been simply big and expensive. But with an eye to proportion, balance and scale, Wise created an outdoor space that is as beautiful as it is big. "Totally unique in its engineering, the pool was an exhilarating challenge," says W. Charles Wise, the builder. "First, the pool site was excavated 12 feet below the natural grade.

Then, the pool was excavated into this lowered area, and 8-foot-deep belled piers were poured. Next, 18-inch-wideby- 24-inch-deep beams were dug, steeled and shot with gunite in order to anchor and stabilize the pool and create a superior understructure. The pool was then stub plumbed, and oversized steel fabrication was started on the actual pool structure."

0308 20The walls and floor of the pool are formidable, as well. They're 12 inches thick and reinforced with an engineered steel schedule of double-curtain 560-grade steel, 12 inches on center each way. In addition, the pool beam is 24 inches wide and supports 2-foot-wide, 4 1/2-inch-thick, pre-cut limestone coping.

"The hydraulic system of this pool is custom designed," says Wise. "Water is skimmed through a specially designed overflow trough concealed in the shallow-end wall. Plus, the wall fittings, floor cleaner fittings and main drain covers were custom made in emerald green to match the tile, which covers the entire interior of the pool. Sixty-five thousand 2-inch emerald green clear glass tiles - each individually tissue wrapped - were set over a period of fivemonths."

Certain details and materials, like the custom-made leaf fountain spouts and the 24-inch-square Pennsylvania greenstone decking, were chosen to complement materials used on the home. Beyond the 22-by-50-foot pool, a terraced amphitheater at the far end helps frame the entire space. The stone risers and grass treads evoke classical ruins and focus the gaze without stealing attention from the pool.

"The pool is heated with four geothermal water-to-water heat pumps with a gas heater backup," says Wise. "The entire system features Jandy One- Touch automation totally integrated with the home system to control all features including the pool equipment, lighting, fountains and spa features."

What the judges said:

Nonemaker"When you look at the house, it goes with the home perfectly. And I like their furniture selection - they oriented it properly. They also did a nice job designing it so that when you look out from the house, you're getting a good view of it. It reads as a formal water feature as much as a pool. This is a great looking project." ROBERT NONEMAKER, principal of Outerspaces, specializing in landscape and watershape design and construction, and Robert Nonemaker Exterior Designs, a watershape consultancy.

White"This project is designed on a scale and in a style that suits the house. The plentiful hardscape is softened by planting pockets, raised beds and recesses in the wall for container plantings and the planted steps beyond. The surrounding landscape is equally formal, which pulls everything together visually. Even the furnishings suit the site." LEE ANNE WHITE, photographer, landscape designer and writer; former editor-in-chief of Fine Gardening Magazine and author of numerous books including Taunton's Pool Idea Book.

Tisherman"I like the steps behind the pool. The combination of materials in the risers and the treads - that works really well. It softens the space. The pool color is green, which is imaginative and looks great." DAVID TISHERMAN, principal and founder of David Tisherman's Visuals, principal and founder of Genesis 3 Design Group, and an award-winning designer and teacher.

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