High Drama

This sharp, clean, vanishing-edge pool was built to allow the homeowners to take advantage of a dramatic Hollywood Hills view. But construction was a formidable challenge. The clients wanted a vanishing-edge pool large enough to frame the vista, yet their backyard sat on a hillside going almost straight down into the canyon. With all the hard work completed, the finished product “looks like you’re going to swim off the edge of the earth,” says Kerri McCoy.

Physical Feat

The project took nearly three years, with eight months spent simply making the yard accessible. Crews had to incrementally build a temporary 15-foot-wide road along the side of the property. “We had to build a temporary retaining wall, bring in soil and shore it up, then build out, say, 10 feet, so that we could take the drilling rig another 10 feet, and drill another temporary wall...” McCoy says.

At the end, the structure had 27 caissons buried 30 to 40 feet in the ground. After the pool was built, the support structure and exposed piping were painted black to blend in with the house — a nice touch, considering the home is clearly visible from a popular viewing point.

Dark Matter

Materials were chosen that blended with the home and made the water as reflective as possible. A black Pebble Sheen coats the interior, and black glass tiles were used around the edge. The unique tiles measure about 3-by-12-inches, and are meant to provide visual momentum. “The long tiles help lead your eye to the focal point, which is downtown Los Angeles,” McCoy says. The deck is blanketed in a porcelain tile made to look like light wood.

Building for the Elements

The canyon experiences considerable wind, so McCoy made certain adjustments to keep the water contained. For instance, the spa sits approximately ½ inch higher than the pool. Additionally, the tiles at the top of the spa dam wall were lapped over the pool wall where they intersect. This not only added a unique aesthetic touch but also created a subtle barrier for migrating water.

As an added protection, the top of the vanishing-edge wall is slanted down toward the main pool rather than the catch basin. “If the infinity edge slanted toward the backside of the wall, then when the wind comes through that canyon, it would pick up the water and blow half of it out the pool,” McCoy says.

The catch basin has a poured-in-place coping that’s cantilevered approximately 3 inches over the edge of the wall, also to try to contain the water. Where McCoy’s catch basins are usually 2 feet deep, she made this one 3 feet. As a side benefit, the black finishes also help with the elements: By absorbing more ambient heat, they helped answer the homeowners’ concerns about losing warmth from the pool and spa during windy times.