Editor’s note: This article went to press coincident with the merger of APSP and NSPF into the...
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Hundreds of pool builders each year submit their best works to APSP’s Awards of Excellence competition. And while dozens of honors are handed out, only a select few strike gold.
Below, take a look at just a few of this year’s gold winning entries, which include razor-sharp Lautner knife edges, sprawling geometrics and more.
The first half of our gold winners are below; come back Thursday to see the rest. Be sure to click on the images for a better view, too.
And don't forget — there's still one more AOE award to take home: the Fan Favorite award. Vote for your favorite here.
See the other 2017 AOE winners: BronzeSilver
Tile: Oceanside Glass Tile Coping: Tennessee Crab Orchard Lighting: Pentair Waterslide: Dolphin Interior Finish: Plaster Sanitizer: Pentair Cleaner: Pentair Circulation: Pentair
This 1,000-square-foot swimming pool includes a luxurious spa, fiber-optic lighting, iridescent glass tile finishes and three waterfalls. The mountainous structure beyond the pool mixes natural and artificial stone to form a waterfall backdrop across the backyard. One of the more challenging aspects of this project was creating an 8-foot-high waterfall and grotto structure in a flat backyard while maintaining the natural style of the design. The clients were skeptical about the idea of blending a natural-style rock waterfall with the sleek look of tile, but when the project was finished, they were impressed by the overall look.
Lighting: Pentair Water Feature: Pentair Circulation: Pentair Start-Up Chemicals: Jack's Magic Automation: Pentair
The Lautner knife edge is beautiful but also difficult to achieve successfully. Naturally, it was the most challenging aspect of this project. To create this look, the Lautner edge was formed and shot using custom-molded structural foam, while the gutter uses stainless-steel plating to hold and protect the large coping detail around the pool. The coping was fabricated to exactly match the Lautner edge, giving this pool its breathtakingly clean design.
The pool is equipped with energy-efficient pumps and a custom gravity tank, which features a custom skimming system with a 10-inch pipe and stainless-steel basket to grab all debris from the gutter detail.
Tile & Coping: LuvTile, Stone Hardscapes Lighting: Pentair Fire Feature: Bobé Sanitizer: Pentair Circulation: Pentair Start-Up Chemicals: Jack's Magic Automation: Pentair
This homeowner asked for a design that would enhance his view of the water and fit in with his backyard. Ideally that would have included a perimeter overflow design, but his budget didn't allow for it. To compromise, the AAA Custom Pools team drafted a design for a 25-foot vanishing edge with two lineal fire features that fit the budget and the client's tastes — he loved the design so much, he didn't request any changes. The accompanying spa is almost flush with the pool's surface, and is raised a mere 1/2 inch above the water. For comfort, the spa is tiled all the way down the back and bench.
Tile & Coping: National Pool Tile Lighting: Pentair Water Features: Grand Effects, Pentair Interior Finish: Pebble Tec Fire Feature: Grand Effects Circulation: Pentair Automation: Pentair Swim Jets: Speck Pumps
This entire residence was designed to provide a stunning view of Mount Shasta rising just above the mirroring surface of a vanishing edge pool. Guiton's Pool Center worked in conjunction with the home architect to achieve this fabulous result.
Installing the large windows was a feat in itself! The crane was positioned in a temporary road across and below the pool, with the boom rising up and over the water to lower the delicate 12-foot plates of glass into place.
The pool runs just over 82 feet in length, and up to 8.5 feet in depth, with arcing laminar fountains providing another radius to match the curves of the home and pool. Fire features by Grand Effects neatly anchor both ends of the evening view.
Lighting: Jandy Sanitizer: Del Ozone Circulation: Lone Star Fountains Automation: Jandy
How do you turn a liability into an asset? That was the big question Mike Farley of Claffey Pools faced when working on this Texas property. The problem: The runoff from the entire subdivision, about 400 acres, crosses right through the client's home before reaching a nearby lake, creating a massive drainage problem. Another wrinkle: said lake was created by the Army Corps of Engineers, meaning anything Farley wanted to try to resolve the drainage issue had to be approved by them first. (He reports it took them three years to finally approve a solution.)
Instead of fighting these obstacles, Farley worked with them. A two-story cabana, for example, was added on the far side of the river and is accessible via bridge — a design choice that turns the problematic river into eye candy. And to complement the client's French-chateau-style home, Farley designed a 10-foot wooden water wheel to add both style and function to the yard.
Peachtree City, Ga.
Tile & Coping: Oceanside Glass Tile Interior Finish: Wet Edge
After falling in love with a beautiful water feature in Las Vegas, this homeowner wanted to create a similar vibe in the backyard — but without the high-roller budget. Shane LeBlanc of Selective Designs stepped up with an impressive design: a 120-foot-long pool with a vanishing edge. A shattered glass tile effect in a variety of blue hues was used to create the look of running water, whether the vanishing edge was running or not. Hydraulic plumbing was also used to keep operation costs down.
North Olmsted, Ohio
Tile: Daltile Lighting: Pentair Water Feature: Pentair Interior finish: Pentair Sanitizer: Pentair Cleaner: Pentair Circulation: Pentair Start-Up Chemicals: Pool Time Automation: Pentair
Five years after the original builder botched the construction, this homeowner turned to High-Tech Pools to with a steep task: Don't just fix the pool, make it look like a work of art. The High-Tech team rose to the challenge with a design that utilized one of the original pool walls, but otherwise transformed the pool into the modern, geometric design you see here. A highlight of the design is the 360-degree acrylic vanishing-edge attached spa that, though it sits in the pool, has its own standalone body of water and filtration system. A series of under-lit concrete stepping stones also do double duty by providing nighttime light and lending the pool a striking electric blue hue.
Lighting: Pentair Water Feature: Jandy Sanitizer: Pentair Cleaner: Maytronics Circulation: Pentair Start-Up Chemicals: Surpass Chemicals Automation: Pentair
For designer Michael Giovanone of Concord Pools and Spas, this project was far more than a standard pool installation; it was an entire backyard overhaul. During the design process, his goal was to create a fun-packed backyard with several designated activity spaces, including a fire pit, dining area, cooking space and pool house, all with a natural, inviting flow. The creative mix of decking materials, including stamped concrete, blue stone and pavers, help tie these spaces together while lending a striking visual element to the overall space. The client is thrilled with the result, even telling Giovanone, "It doesn't even seem real that this is our yard."
Interior Finish: Wet Edge
The engineers, contractors, vendors and staff at Premier Paradise worked tirelessly for 16 months to perfect this perimeter overflow spa on top of a mountain. A failing steel substructure, rotten wood deck and derelict vessel didn't stop them from delivering an outdoor sanctuary worthy of the view from Camelback mountain in Paradise Valley, Ariz. Project highlights include a new precision-engineered steel substructure, cantilevered perimeter overflow spa, glass railings, 3,000-square-feet of decking, multiple linear fire features and a pool featuring a tiled platform and stainless steel water features. To date, the Premier team consider this project one of its greatest achievements.
Burnaby, British Columbia
Tile & Coping: Daltile Lighting: Pentair Interior Finish: Plaster Sanitizer: Delta Circulation: AIC, Pentair, Hayward, Delta
Client communication is a critical part of any pool build, which is why this project is uniquely special: the clients lived in China and sometimes took months to respond to emails from the Alka Pool team. Communication delays, as well as multiple design changes and price material increases, meant this project took almost four years to build.
Fortunately, this long-distance relationship paid off. This extensive remodel features a whirlpool-turned-water feature, LED lights and an indoor area with a hot tub and cold plunge pool. Both indoor and outdoor areas use separate pumps and plumbing, but share the same equipment room in a cozy outbuilding.
Lighting: Pentair Interior Finish: Plaster Sanitizer: Pentair Cleaner: Pentair Circulation: Pentair Start-Up Chemicals: Pool Time
This project is all about elegance. It features a deck-to-water-level design that incorporates an Italian custom glass mosaic interior tile finish with a beautiful raised spa. The project includes a sub-deck automatic cover system that is out of sight until it's deployed from underwater benches in both the pool and spa. The cover is a German-style floating safety cover that completely hides itself underwater. The earth-tone decking is sandstone that lends a soft, yet architectural appearance.
Tile & Coping: Noble Tile Supply Decking: Monterrey Tile Lighting: Pentair Interior Finish: Pebble Tec Sanitizer: Pentair Circulation: Pentair Automation: Pentair
Show-stopping projects don't happen overnight; it took two and a half years to create what you see here. This project features an assortment of jaw-dropping structures and exquisite details, including the cantilevered upper pool that extends 7 feet over the lower pool, as well as a unique infinity/fluted stream edge that creates a full curtain of water down to the lower pool. (Fun fact: The feature was designed to ensure the water curtain wouldn't break during its fall, which would generate quite a bit of noise.)
The project features six bodies of water in all, five of which that can flow together or operate independently. Take the upper spa, for example. If the homeowners wish to take a dip, they simply press a button and the recess between the main pool body and the spa body drains down to the lower pool, making the spa appear as though it's rising out of the water. More than simply looking cool, the process helps the spa heat up independently and quickly.
In all, this project offers proof that good things do come to those who wait.
Over the past year, the Manufacturers Council has focused on the industry's inability to attract and retain good employees at the dealer level. Listening to these discussions led me to a moment of pause. After reflecting upon the dealers with whom I have enjoyed long-standing relationships, it occurred to me that they were now, or would soon be, entering the twilight of their careers. A look in the mirror further revealed that I no longer had a full head of hair, and that which remained...
Editor's Note: As of this article's online publication, the KFC Hot Tub campaign has closed. It surpassed its campaign goal of $46,683 to raise a total of $53,909. The hot tub is available to purchase (so far, only three are available) at $13,311 and is expected to ship in August 2019.
Editor’s note: This article went to press coincident with the merger of APSP and NSPF into the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance. As such, it retains references to APSP, true to source quotes used in the story and the original text as written by Dan Seeger. Future articles about the merged organization will refer only to the Pool and Hot Tub Alliance.
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Steam is rising from the portable hot tub industry. It was another generous year in spa sales: 88 percent of survey takers reported sales either increased or stayed the same last year. Dealers remain optimistic about the growth of the industry and credit strong sales to a growing economy, investment in social media marketing strategies, lead generation campaigns and more.
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