Residential Palladio Winner
Connecticut Pool House
Haver & Skolnick Architects
Over the course of several years, Charles M. Haver, AIA, and Stewart R. Skolnick, AIA, of Haver & Skolnick Architects in Roxbury, Connecticut, have been completing parts of a master plan they designed for clients who own a 70-acre gentleman’s farm in Washington, Connecticut.
They built the grand two-story main house, a traditional stone structure based on the style of surrounding barns and cottages, converted a barn into an entertainment arcade complete with a billiards room, a movie theater, and a pub, renovated a guest house, built a post-and-beam barn for the owners’ collection of classic cars, and designed the 2018 Palladio Award-winning enclosed garden on the property.
The last piece of the puzzle was the pool house, which won a 2020 Bulfinch Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. It features a central lounge with a visual connection to the new swimming pool the firm designed, a gym that can be used all year long, a pantry, a powder room, a laundry room, and storage space for pool toys and accessories.
Because the client wanted to use it as much as possible, the pool house has radiant heat and air conditioning, and Haver says, “our design extended its use seasonally and daily into the twilight hours.”
The Manhattan couple, who have teenage children, use the Washington property as a summer compound and spend winter vacations soaking up the sun in the Caribbean.
“We’ve worked with them such a long time that they pretty much gave us artistic freedom,” Skolnick says.
Haver adds that their only request was that the pool house be a “little more contemporary” than their main house.
With that parameter as a guide, the duo designed a classic saltbox that, at a distance, looks like a traditional barn but that on closer inspection reveals luxury details worthy of a five-star resort.
“The idea was to create a space that feels like a vacation house from the vacation house,” Skolnick says.
And, Haver adds, to remind the owners of their coveted Caribbean vacations.
The pool house, which is clad in silver weathered siding and has a cedar-shingle and standing-seam copper roof and shed dormer, has a porch-like look and feel. A trio of copper chimney pots hides the mechanicals.
It connects to the main residence via a simple bluestone and grass pathway. Landscaping, notably around the chaise lounges and the exterior of the gym, merges indoor and outdoor spaces.
“The parti of the building is very simple and classical, with a cross-axial organization extending to the terrace and swimming pool beyond,” Haver says. “The open lounge and gym of the center are flanked by thick poche zones on either side, neatly organizing all the storage and service spaces.”
Skolnick adds that this design suited the owners because “they are a very close-knit family who wanted to be in a space where they could be together regardless of their activity.”
Haver adds that “whether lounging on the chaises, taking a dip in the pool, hanging out in the spa, working out in the gym or simply sipping wine by the gas fireplace, everyone feels connected.”
Indoor and outdoor spaces flow into each other, reinforcing the idea of an open-air pavilion: Fully retractable glass doors face the pool and spa, and a wall of windows in the gym overlooks the curvaceous woodlands garden.
The biggest challenge of the project was the tight time line. Haver & Skolnick Architects had only eight months to demolish the existing swimming pool and take the pool house from conception to finished construction.
“The owners wanted to use the pool house by Memorial Day, which meant that work had to proceed during subfreezing temperatures on top of one of the most windswept hills in northwest Connecticut,” Haver says. “The contractor constructed a temporary heated building enclosing the construction of the 30-foot by 60-foot swimming pool and terraces.”
Skolnick adds that “the final table was in place one hour before the clients arrived.”
The crispness of the design and the simplicity of the interior detailing of the pool house required a high level of precision and coordination among the architects, engineers and tradespeople.
The interior walls and ceilings are clad in 10-inch-wide clear white-washed, knotless pine planks that are set horizontally at the same height in each space. “This is a traditional vernacular Connecticut way of doing outbuildings,” Haver says.
To perfectly align all the boards throughout the pool house, the woodworker had to shim each wall to ensure a plumb surface. And it took a team effort to perfectly center the electrical receptacles, light fixtures and mechanical devices within the boards; to supply air conditioning through nearly invisible slots in the wood instead of through grilles; and to trim flange-less recessed light fixtures and speakers in flush wood.
“The overall result is a calming simplicity,” Haver says.
Skolnick adds, “We love doing this level of detail.”
Architect and Interior Designer Haver & Skolnick
Construction Manager Churchill Building Company
Structural Engineer DeStefano & Chamberlain
Mechanical Engineer CES
Civil Engineer / Surveyor Smith & Company
Landscape Installation Hoffman Landscapes
Lighting Consultant Westwoods Architectural Lighting Design
Audio Visual/Crestron Consultant Opus AVC
Swimming Pool Subcontractor Drakeley Pools
Architectural Millwork Fairfield County Millwork
Exterior Siding Antique weathered barn board
Painting Ives Brothers Painting
Roofing Cedar shingles and standing-seam copper
Exterior Terraces and Interior Flooring Natural cleft New York bluestone
Interior Wall & Ceiling Surfaces White-washed clear pine
Plumbing Fixtures & Cabinet Hardware Sonoma Forge
Interior Furniture Holly Hunt
Fabrics Great Plains