Rooftop Pools

HGI 2201 M Street DC

Creating a pool on the roof of a building takes special consideration. The pools are typically built inside a waterproof tray or box designed by the structural engineer, and connected with a drain to protect the occupants below from leaks and moisture damage, these are referred to as the structural vault. If a pool then leaks, the water can be collected into the buildings drainage system, and keep anyone or anything below from getting wet. Pools are usually located on rooftops when the site is small or land is at a premium, it can also afford the users more privacy. Rooftop pools are becoming commonplace in the Orlando skyline.


Suspended pools; or pools built above parking garages and on upper floors of buildings, can be stainless steel or reinforced concrete construction. The stainless steel pool shell can be designed and fabricated off-site and then placed inside of the structural vault that has been designed for the shape of the pool.  Typical options for interior coatings on the stainless steel shell are PVC or ceramic tile.  The option of stainless steel pool construction can elevate the pool construction budget by approx. 300% over the cost of building the pool of reinforced concrete.

If the pool shell is built of reinforced concrete the qualified swimming pool contractor would place the reinforcing steel inside of the water proofed structural vault prior to placing the concrete.  The concrete shell of the pool can be coated with plaster, aggregate type coatings such as Diamond Brite or ceramic tile.

Indoor Pool

Pools suspended in buildings require extra care in the design to insure all water proofing issues are considered and coordinated in the design process.  Close coordination between the pool consultant, structural engineer and MEP engineer is critical so all the pipe penetrations and water proofing details are thoroughly worked out.

Ritz Carlton Residence Baltimore

It is also important to have the job specification written to qualify the pool contractor that will do the work.  The design team and the owner do not want a residential pool contractor cutting his teeth on this type of project as his first commercial project.

Knoxville TN Courtyard

Photos and technical information are courtesy of Aqua Design Intl. They have an extensive portfolio of beautiful pools in resorts and condos around the world. You can view them at this link to their website:

You may contact Dave Acklin at Aqua Design for your project needs:
aquadesignintl logo


About Gregory Stock, AIA, LEED BD+C

I am an experienced architect and artist, you can visit my website for information about me and my work, social media pages and more
This entry was posted in Recreation & Entertainment, Residential & Multi-Family, Resorts & Restaurants, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rooftop Pools

  1. Carmelo Monti (Mel) says:

    Great information. Roof top pools offer other problems you don’t often think about in High-rise construction, and that is Occupant Load. Often Clients place a bar or lounge adjacent to pool settings to increase the ambiance and aesthetic for a total enjoyable experience. That translates into an assembly occupant load. The code not only takes into account the occupant load of the pool surface itself, it also includes the perimeter at a higher occupant load factor. This combined with the assembly load of the lounge often exceeds the requirement for a single exit. Suddenly you’re confronted with adding a second stair to the roof, and that stair needs to be separated by 1/3 the diagonal of the building and the area served. This has come up more times than one can imagine.

  2. Thanks for adding your knowledge to our Post! I am sure our readers can benefit from this insight.

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