Caliza Pool

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Location: Alys Beach, Florida. A resort town along the Gulf of Mexico

Located within a new resort town along the Gulf of Mexico, the Caliza Pool serves as an open-air amenity for its residents and the local community. The splayed site is bounded on the south and west by vehicular streets, on the east by a pedestrian walk and on the north by a wooded pineland preserve.

As the first communal space built within the town, it seeks, by way of its forms and arrangement, to re-connect with the timeless archetype of the Greek agora. Rather than gather the program into a single building, it disperses it into a series of stoas, each distinct in function and form.

These stoa, connected by garden walls, contain a raised stone terrace, at the center of which lies the main pool, an ellipse of water flush with the paving.

The south stoa is anchored by the entry hall, a tower-like tetrapylon that marks a primary urban axis within the town. Adjoining the hall is a long arcaded salon open to the pool terrace. Surmounting this room is a roof terrace that looks out to the Gulf.

On the west side is the dining stoa, with expansive open loggias flaking the solid form of the enclosed kitchen and niched bar.  In counterpoint to this rhythm, the bath stoa, on the aest side, bookends a trellised lap pool with two bath houses, each organized around a central open-roofed atrium. Adjacent is the fountain house, enclosing the pool equipment with a cascading façade of water.

The north end of the terrace, bounded by an allee of Medjool palms, steps down to a children’s pool, conceived as a floating raft, complete with wooden masts and a sailcloth canopy. Cabanas, taing the form of classical treasury houses, are arrayed across the curved northern edge, alternating with enclosed garden courts, and overlooking an oak-shaded terrace and the wooded preserve beyond.

Caliza is the Spanish term for limestone and it is this material, in the form of Dominican shellstone, that thematically links the many elements of design, from paving to fountains to custom-designed furnishings. The stonework is complemented by a diverse palette of materials, including  inlaid beach pebble ‘rugs,’ marble mosaic facades, Cuban tile wall panels, and stainless steel curtains. The stoa are enlivened by integrally-colored plaster walls while the ensemble as a whole is unified by a continuous veneer of steel-troweled white stucco, which continuously changes color with the light of day.

Lessons learned: The most important decision of the project, taken early in the design process, was to conceptualize it as a space, not a building. Breaking down the program into its constituent parts and deploying them in the definition of a legible urban form allowed the whole to be much greater than the sum of those parts. Deeply influential to this decision is the work and writings of Leon Krier. The contemporary urge to aggregate functions into single object buildings must be resisted, he warns, as it both delivers architecture in an overscaled, illegible form and foregoes its ability to make positive urban space. Decompose the program into individual elements, he proposes, and then give them expressive form by way of relevant , timeless typological models. The decision to follow this path was ratified, and an important lesson was learned, by the public reception to the project once built. People react to it not simply as a collection of buildings or objects, but rather as a deeply memorable place, an immersive environment in which each element and detail contributes to a sense of it being at once familiar and new, resonant with the memory of other such spaces and yet something never before seen.

Transect Zone(s): T4 general.
Status: Complete
Project or Plan's Scale: Region
Land area (in acres): 1
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency): 6e+06
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
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Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work):
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Project team designers: Khoury & Vogt Architects
Project team developers: N/A

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: - 2008