Award-winning pool in Medford, Ore.

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1009 Choice

From any breathtaking point of view, this Tuscan-style pool in southwestern Oregon is stunning. But drawing just as many gasps from visitors are its surprisingly ordinary building materials and low price tag - the pool and landscaping together ran about $130,000.

There's a lot of concrete there, a fiberglass shell, some tile, and of course plumbing and equipment. That's about it. The art in the project was the arrangement, shaping and finishing of these commonplace items of the trade into a powerful, unified whole.

The exquisite appearance of the concrete work here was not the result of chance. Builder Mark Virden was a concrete man before he was a pool builder, and in that business he learned how to make one of the oldest building materials in the history of construction look like a new indulgence.

The elegant coping around the pool, for instance, is just colored concrete poured into Styrofoam forms. Multiple layers of conventional concrete sealer give it that smooth shiny look that mimics cut stone.

As delightful as this Etruscan echo may be, it would never have come to pass had it not been for a magazine picture and some pointed questioning. The customer was originally prepared to settle for a rather prosaic lagoon-type pool, Virden says, but he noticed there was little enthusiasm for the style.

"So I just asked her a simple question: 'If money wasn't an issue, what would you want your pool to look like?' She turned and picked up a magazine, and opened it to a picture of the pool in the Hearst Castle in California."

Needless to say, funding for a precise replica of William Randolph Hearst's 345,000-gallon monument to Neptune, over a decade in the making, was not available. So they looked at the resources at hand and came up with something smaller, but in the same spirit, using shapes, columns and water features.

And that spirit shines through. What makes this pool exceptional, and an AQUA Choice winner, is the amount of pool delivered given the confines of the customer's budget. Which is, of course, the essence of the pool builder's craft.

Comments or thoughts on this article? Please e-mail [email protected].

Royal Oasis Pools

Category: Manufactured Pool
Project Location: Medford, Ore.
Builder: Mark Virden, Midland, Texas

Submit your pool project for the 2010 Aqua Choice Awards at Deadline is Oct. 15, 2009.

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