Taste is important in Greg Mash’s line of work. It means a great deal to his high-end clientele. “A lot of the time, our clients have unusual requests or special needs,” says Mash, art director/product designer at Bradford Products, LLC, in Wilmington, N.C. “These aren’t people just throwing in a typical spa [or pool]. They have their own tastes and style and know what they’re searching for is a little extraordinary.
“[As a designer], you have to have an eye for being able to see what’s correct in terms of perspective, balance or harmony, and relationships between objects and materials,” he adds.
It’s that natural aesthetic sense that bore him through each obstacle as he began work on this marine-grade, stainless steel aboveground pool project. For example, Mash was forced to work within a confined area due to code restrictions established by North Carolina’s Coastal Area Management Act. Because of a sandy substrate, the pool had to be set back at least 30 feet from the bulkhead, leaving a small, unusual space to build a pool and deck.
An unusual space
Rather than letting the CAMA guidelines diminish the design, Mash allowed the contour of the bulkhead to dictate the shape of the negative edge. “It worked in our favor because the yard didn’t terminate on a perfectly flat, parallel line to the house,” says Mash, a structural designer by trade. “The actual bulkhead was at an angle, so the pool mirrors its shapes, and it’s all parallel.” In fact, the final product utilized 99 percent of the available area.
From its tiled surface to its vanishing edge to its swim-current generating system, this aboveground pool has the sort of trimmings and amenities you’d expect from an inground project.
“[The owners] wanted a family-oriented, user-friendly space that made the most of the existing views,” Mash says. “They asked for as much pool as they could fit into the available space.”
The clients also requested a little Caribbean-resort charm. Mash obliged by using Bahamian green tile offset by cobalt and sapphire blues. The monochromatic, 2-inch-square tiles were laid in 12-by-24-inch sections. However, setting the tile where a graduation in color was required posed a challenge.
“My tile guys were not jumping for joy when they saw what lay in store for them,” Mash says. The graduated color pattern of the tile, he says, was important not only to create a sense of “subtle movement,” but to accent and define the wet wall of the negative edge and spa.
Appealing on all levels
In fact, Mash says that any vanishing edge should appeal as much to the eye from the outside of the pool as it does from the inside. “You can have a vanishing edge that disappears while making it an important feature of the architecture,” he suggests. “With most vanishing edges, the wet wall just works as a gutter system. But we make it a feature of the installation. From the outside of the pool, everything has been designed to be viewed.”
Of course, this wet wall still works as a gutter system, but with an added purpose. The gentleman of the house requested a pool large enough to swim laps, which didn’t seem possible due to the space limitations — that is, until Mash incorporated swim-spa jet technology into an aboveground pool by adding a current generator and a surge tank to absorb some of the shock wave. This means the owner can exercise in the deep end without the current affecting the kids in the shallow end.
The 12-person spillover spa and sundeck make for a complete aquatic playground by most standards. “My first concern, when it’s all said and done, is that the customer is just blown away by [the project],” Mash says. “We want to create something that they can look at and go, ‘That’s just beautiful,’ and something that meets their tastes and criteria.”
Situated on an exclusive barrier island along the Intercoastal Waterway in North Carolina, the two-piece aboveground vessel had to be transported by police escort to the job site. A crane then hoisted the pool and spa from the semitrailer to the foundation.
For most builders, watching a $160,000 masterpiece — the culmination of six months of blood, sweat and tears — dangle precariously above an Atlantic estuary might be a little nerve-wracking. But for Mash, it’s “just another day in an exciting and interesting job.”
“So here’s this large pool hanging over the water, and you gotta spin it around and set it down to within 12 to 18 inches of the house,” he recalls. “The lift up and over the waterway was spectacular and definitely announced to the neighborhood the arrival of the new pool.”