George Brown’s clients threw out plans for installing a traditional fiberglass pool when they ran across some photos of perimeter-overflow projects.

Trouble was, the president of the building firm had never constructed a perimeter-overflow pool before, and the number of fiberglass vessels incorporating that advanced technique can be counted on one hand. But after many calculations, and much consultation with an engineer, Brown figured out how to do it.

“Everyone was pleased in the end, including me,” he reports. “We were sweating it for a while, but it turned out as good as I could have hoped for.”

Better, actually. Brown created a pool that is as simple in its beauty as it was complicated to construct.

No ladders. No handrails. Not a single piece of equipment within view of the blue, glass-like rectangle stretching from the back patio toward the sunset over the marshland and the river that lies to the west.

Degree of difficulty

Brown’s biggest challenge was making sure the 15-foot-by-39-foot fiberglass shell was almost perfectly level. He set his margin of error at 1/8 inch, figuring that anything more would ruin the perimeter-overflow effect. That much leeway would be rather generous on a concrete pool, but posed a real difficulty considering the variables inherent in a fiberglass pool project.

To help make sure the coping was level, he used fishing line rather than nylon string to keep a straight edge. A nylon string would absorb water, sag “and ruin the whole deal,” he says. The fishing line, as well as a laser level, kept everything straight.

Brown and the homeowners decided against a grate over the trough for the perimeter overflow, so he went with a small slot over a gutter that sends the water into a holding tank.

Again, because the clients didn’t want to see any of the complicated pool’s mechanics, the 900-gallon holding tank was buried vertically beneath a patch of landscaping.

Whenever there’s water loss, be it from splash-out or evaporation, the leveler in the tank kicks in and sends more water to the pool.

“It’s all about flow rate and about [building the pool] level,” Brown says. “If you’ve got those two things right, it’s going to work.”

On the deck

There’s no way this pool — built with such care, effort and expense — would look its best with a poured concrete deck. The coping had already been selected, and the homeowners set about finding decking stones to go with it.

The clients found some travertine stone on their own that happened to match the coping perfectly — establishing a clean, neutral frame in keeping with the pool’s austere design.

The waterfeature, too, is simple: four nozzles that shoot arcs of water into the pool.

“They wanted something that would work well with the house and the lot,” Brown says. “It looks like the environment has come in and created a perfect rectangle of water.”

Perfect rectangles are rarely found in nature. This one was expertly, and beautifully, built.

George Brown
Ginny Corlon