It’s an idea that could potentially change how people regard the aquatic design profession — especially those considering entering the industry. At the very least, it sure sounds like fun!

The Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge will debut at this year’s International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas. The contest, which is being staged in conjunction with APSP and the association’s WAVE committee of young professionals, is the brainchild of Dallas-based designers Mike Farley and Reid Schindler.

The challenge involves a fictitious property/client scenario with a million-dollar budget. Entrants use the parameters to generate their own designs then present them in plan views, perspective renderings and other graphics, along with a verbal description. They can also use videos and 3D models. Farley and Schindler based the contest scenario on one of Schindler’s actual recent projects, which is set in Texas. The pair plans to incorporate a variety of locations and parameters in future competitions.

“Our main goal is to put everybody on a level playing field and get the competitive spirit going,” Schindler says. “We want to give people in the industry and those from outside the industry the opportunity to compete based on their design skills and creativity. Ultimately our goal is to improve the industry through competition and the exposure it could bring.”

Farley, an industry veteran with 30 years’ experience teamed up with his co-worker and colleague Schindler, who was born the year Farley started. Based on both Farley’s decades of experience and Schindler’s perspective as a member of the millennial generation, the two developed the program to attract both designers from within the industry and university students, particularly those from landscape architecture programs.

“It’s a way to introduce our industry to the college classroom, to advance the idea that there are opportunities in this industry,” Schindler explained, adding that he and Farley are reaching to out deans from for major landscape architecture programs throughout the United States.

“Obviously we’re anxious to see the kind of response we get. Our hope is this becomes an annual event that draws widespread participation and attention,” Schindler says. “This first year, we’re hoping it draws enough participation and attention so that we can continue with the competition, because we do believe it has great potential as annual event.”

Five finalists will be selected and notified prior to the Expo, where the winner will be announced at a design presentation. After the competition, a ranking of the top 20 entries will also be released. 

“Mike and I have talked about this for quite a while, but then we just decided that we have to do something with it,” Schindler says. “The people who run the show were extremely excited by the idea and big potential going forward. We’ll see what happens.”  

To learn more about the contest, click here.

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.