Rooftop Pools – A Higher Degree of Difficulty –

Rooftop pools and spas are a frequently requested amenity for discerning commercial clientele. While notoriously difficult to design, fabricate and install; the demand for rooftop water features has only increased over the past few decades. Consequently, there are few companies taking on projects of the level of scale and complexity as Diamond Spas.

Owners Stephanie & Tom Bennett started the company back in 1996 with an initial focus on custom baths. Quickly they began to attract attention with their product line. By 1999 they began manufacturing swimming pools, spas, and custom water features. Fast forward to today and Diamond Spas have become one of the elite manufacturers in the industry.

Rooftop Pools & Spa Projects

Known for their stunning rooftop pools, their products can be found in the most affluent hotels, commercial buildings, high-end homes, and yes; even mega-yachts. To get a better understanding of why Diamond Spas has become a preferred choice for rooftop pools, we met with Design Manager – Mitch Martinek.

Quite often, Martinek is the point person on the project working with customers, as well as builders, architects, and engineers. Consequently, he has personally been involved in the design and execution of numerous rooftop pool and spa projects over the course of his career.

“Some of the rooftop pool installations of note that we’ve collaborated in include the Yellow Stone Club in Big Sky, Montana, the Atlantic Residence for Post Brothers, and Woodward Lofts in St. Louis, just to name a few,” said Martinek.

In the course of our discussion, Martinek let us know the reasons why consumers might opt for a stainless steel vessel when planning a rooftop pool project.

Factors To Consider With a Rooftop Pool Installation

“When you’re dealing with rooftop installations, weight is definitely a factor,” said Martinek, “you’re able to get a larger water surface area using a lightweight shell like a stainless steel vessel as opposed to a heavier concrete gunite vessel.”

Design Credit: Sparta Spa Architect: Daniel Hasson | Photo Credit: Diamond Spas

Weight and stress factors are crucial issues in rooftop swimming pools. There are risks to placing water above any structure. The framework must support the weight of the water as well as the pool itself. Martinek, let us know that this is one of the primary reasons many consumers opt for a stainless steel vessel when building a rooftop pool.

“A stainless steel vessel allows for a larger body of water with more features and more capacity than you’d get with your typical concrete gunite rooftop pool installation,” said Martinek.

Movement in the ground and depreciation of building fabrication are the most common causes of building and substructure movement. Concrete pools are vulnerable due to their rigidity and propensity to crack. When compared to concrete, stainless steel provides a higher degree of durability and enables for watertight welded manufacturing.

Martinek explained that rooftop pool installations can be tricky due to access issues. When planning a pool installation project, obviously time is of the issue. Many consumers opt for a prefabricated pool that can be installed in one piece thereby reducing the amount of time and money spent on-site during construction.

Architect: TBD Architecture + Design Studio Builder: Structure NYC Landscaper: Amber Freda Landscape Design
Photo Credit: Tom Sibley Photography

“One of the benefits of our process is we build everything here. We can be working in parallel with the on-site construction avoiding delays while the pool is being fabricated at our facility,” said Martinek.

A key reason that commercial consumers might opt for an off-site pool manufacturing process is the ease of integration and an abbreviated installation time. “We crane it right into position right on the rooftop,” said Martinek.

Given that rooftops create a higher degree of difficulty, it serves to reason that even though the process is easier in terms of time and installation, just getting the product onto the roof can be 90% of the job. The logistic problem of craning the vessel into place is one that Martinek is all too familiar with. Particularly on projects that have custom and unique requirements.

“I’m working on a current project right now in Sandpoint, ID. It’s a high-end condo, new build. One of the complexities there is that the pool was an afterthought. It’s a rooftop combination pool and spa. They already had set design parameters as far as the foundational slab that it could go on but they wanted to expand on that. We had to find a new way to do our framing to work with their current on-site rooftop conditions. There were degrees of complexity as far as point loading on top of their existing structure, and to get the size of the vessel they wanted.”

The Future is Here: Working With Acrylic

Despite the difficulties, that condo project is slated for completion this summer will have tenants living in the building by next year. While primarily known for their stainless steel vessels, Diamond Spas has quickly been building a reputation for acrylic vessels as well.

“Acrylic is becoming the new fad,” said Martinek, “it’s a new way of showcasing the vessel at the residence; whether it’s a high rise with a bottom acrylic viewing window or side viewing window. We can even do infinity edge acrylics, really the sky’s the limit.”

Architect – Berglund Architects LLC Builder- Shaeffer Hyde Photographer – Stovall Studio | Photo Credit: Diamond Spas

“We’ve come up with our own proprietary way of mechanically fastening these acrylic windows so we can install them at our facility on-site so that no extra installation is needed once the vessel is set. This provides the customer with the peace of mind that the vessel is leakproof and done right,” said Martinek.

“One large acrylic project we worked on was the GuestHouse at the Dream Hotel in New York City,” said Martinek, “definitely an extensive design phase and coordination with their team as far as the bottom viewing acrylic and then all of the surrounding finishes with a spiral staircase, acrylic window on the top with the wood surround. That was definitely a unique project.”

GuestHouse at Dream Downtown from Dream Hotels on Vimeo.

“Each project presents its own unique set of challenges and its own way of viewing,” said Martinek, “acrylic presents a different way of enjoying your spa, your pool and your water features. It gives you insight into the water, and then at night time, it becomes another great feature with the lighting interior and exterior of your pool really shines through that acrylic and brings out the finish of the stainless steel or copper.”

Rooftop Pool Trends

Many rooftop pools we see these days are part of an overall design plan that incorporates the pool as well as other outdoor living amenities such as a sauna and spa. A trend that Martinek acknowledged has been developing with many clients. “A lot of the higher-end builds are adding a sauna, spa and cold plunge in their gym or master bathroom suites.”

Bringing the outdoors indoors is another popular trend Diamond Spas has incorporated into many new projects. Consequently, there has also been a shift towards incorporating elements of hot and cold therapy. “We’re seeing a lot of indoor spas, cold plunges for commercial and residential use,” said Martinek.

Final Thoughts

With a bevy of material options to choose from these days, the look and stylized aesthetic for rooftop pools can be as unique as the design itself. The fact that Diamond Spas provides all of these selections and the expertise and support to ensure a flawless installation makes it clear why they are consistently recognized as a leading manufacturer of rooftop pools and spas.

Listen to our entire discussion with Mitch Martinek of Diamond Spas on the Pool Magazine podcast.

Featured Photo Credit: Diamond Spas – Post Brothers / The Atlantic Building, Philadelphia, PA. Photographer – Basel Almisshal

original article can be found here

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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