Art of Glass

Acrylic-enclosed pools place water’s hypnotic shimmer front and center.

BY March 9, 2022
Acrylic-enclosed statement pools
Architects often use these pools to blur the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces. (Courtesy CPlusC Architectural Workshop/Murray Fredericks)

In an era of statement pools that defy categorization, there’s something inherently sublime about glass wall pools. Using acrylic boxes can highlight a deep blue backyard jewel, or dropping a glass-bottom pool into a living space can create a world-class resort feel with the barefoot luxury of home. In the right hands, it can enhance the subtle blurring of the indoors and outdoors and act as a jaw-dropping centerpiece.

These designs for statement pools became more prevalent about 15 years ago, mostly in hotels or resorts seeking a wow factor to impress guests, according to Naples-bred David Young, the principal architect at DWY Landscape Architects. As more residential clients started looking for similar designs, the practice expanded—and contracted, so to speak: The expense has frightened some homeowners away. “We were working on a panel about 20 feet long—an elevated pool you’d see in the backyard or from the bay,” Young says, noting the project was abandoned due to cost. “It’s still a rather rare animal because of the expense. Think about trying to insert acrylic into concrete.”

Across Alligator Alley, one of Miami’s top pool designers bears a whimsical sensibility inspired by the city’s thriving arts scene. Andy Kaner, president of Aquatic Consultants Inc., has pulled off ambitious residential poolscapes that would capsize a lesser talent. A recent project required a 63-foot-long acrylic panel that had to be shipped on a flat-bed truck, floated by barge to the home site and installed with precision by crane. “The engineering with ‘glass look’ acrylic is growing bolder, and techniques are getting more refined,” Kaner says. “You can see whole pools with acrylic floors that span skyscrapers and hang off the sides of buildings. It was unheard of to accomplish this. Now projects are emerging in reality, worldwide.”

Young notes that the trends have shifted a few times since the emergence of acrylic designs. For some clients, raising the pool beam to create the illusionary infinity edge was the goal. Others wanted to integrate a spa aesthetic directly into the pool space rather than making it a separate component. He’s even seen designs expand into the landscaping itself, with grass coming right up to the edge of the pool. But the bar has been raised, and where it goes from here is a matter of creativity.

“There are new things being done all the time—I can’t imagine what the latest trend will be,” Young says. “It’s up to someone’s imagination.”