Bradford Products places pools where others fear to splash, all while putting cost, quality, and sustainability first.
When the intensity of Miami becomes too much—the colors, the flavors, the heat, the sun—everyone knows to retreat to the water. But what the locals know that visitors don’t is that you don’t always have to look to Miami’s boardwalks and beaches to find respite. Sometimes, all you have to do is look up.
High above Miami’s richly cultured, art deco streets towers Brickell City Centre, one of the latest developments in Miami’s mixed-use sustainable design boom. In a city whose growth is constrained by historic architecture and rising sea levels, Brickell’s architectural team knew the only way to build was up. And the crowning jewel—rather, jewels—of the $1 billion mixed-use project are its 14 sparkling pools of water.
“We often like to experiment with complex geometry,” says Michelle Cintron, a vice president at the international architecture firm Arquitectonica. For Brickell, Arquitectonica was tasked with landscape design, including the design of the project’s 14 pools and hot tubs across three main structures. “We sometimes do rectangles and simple forms, but we also like to experiment with angles and curves,” she says. “This is true of Brickell.”
FROM OUR MAY+JUNE 2018 ISSUE
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What It Looks Like
Design is one thing. Construction and installation are another.
When it came time to find a supplier for Arquitectonica’s contemporary pool designs, with their geometric edges, clean lines, and lush native vegetation all sitting above living and commercial spaces, Bradford Products was the obvious choice. An international leader in the design and manufacturing of stainless steel pools, spas, and hot tubs, Bradford dived right into Brickell’s challenges.
The main project phase took place at the Brickell East Hotel, with four pools and hot tubs—collectively “vessels.” Two other buildings, the North Tower and the West Tower, feature eight and six vessels, respectively, the largest of which comes in at 1,775 square feet. Most of the 18 water vessels sit four or five levels above ground, often over residential and commercial space.
How They Did It
From the start, the design was complex: How to contain thousands of gallons of water above inhabited spaces, ensuring no leakage all while maintaining an aesthetic of European-style water features, fully tiled vessel interiors, and level water and deck heights?
The most important of Brickell’s challenges, Cintron says, was the installation of the large pools. “Due to their size, the shipping of the vessel was done in prefabricated sections to facilitate transportation.”
After setting and leveling all of the pieces, Bradford did the welding on-site, precisely coordinating the construction of the vessel supports with the meticulous fit of plumbing pipe to water collector tanks. To say space was tight and time limited would be an understatement. But Bradford’s background as a fabricator, installer, and, as needed, landscape designer, meant the feat was streamlined, if not simple.
Who is Bradford Products?
The North Carolina–based company cut its teeth in Las Vegas, having passed the test of the City of Light’s relatively short attention span. Since the 1980s, Bradford has been sought for project after project in the world’s most high-end hotels and casinos. As storied as Bradford’s legacy has become, the roots of the three-generation, family-owned business go back to a simple desire to create excellence and innovation. “My father started as a stainless steel welder and created his own fabrication shop with a partner,” Bradford Vice President Mike Brodeur says of his father, Dale Brodeur. “People would come to him with concepts, and he would figure out how to make the ideas for them. It became one of the largest shops in the Northeast, but he was always looking for a product line he could develop himself.”
In California in the 1970s, Dale found that product as he sat with his wife in redwood barrel hot tub. At the time, no one on the East Coast had a clue about hot tubs. But when Dale, known for a love of hospitality and entertaining, built his own, the requests started pouring in.
That ethos lives on. “We pride ourselves on being a unique, custom manufacturer that can tackle anything,” Mike says. “We want to build on that reputation to take on challenging projects and work with folks who have a big vision.”
To that end, Bradford is in the midst of a global expansion. In the few years since Brickell opened, four new Miami projects also feature Bradford stainless steel pools. Other ongoing projects include a complex design in London, developed by the Ballymore Group, where a single pool connects two towers with an acrylic bridge. Swimmers will be able to look down—and pedestrians up—nearly 10 stories as they swim between vessels.
In Australia, Bradford has its hands on both the design and build at a new casino. The project will become the tallest building in Sydney, with fully welded stainless steel pools going in on the third, fourth, and 69th levels. Visually, the project promises impact, with beautiful views over Sydney Harbour. “It’s going be great to introduce a new type of construction into a new country,” Mike says. “There are a lot of eyes on it, and no one else has used it yet.”
Why This Matters
So why the focus on stainless steel? Stainless steel water vessels offer strong structural engineering with a lighter footprint than traditional concrete water vessels, making them ideal solutions for retrofitted or rooftop spaces. Customers also see fewer maintenance requirements with stainless steel, helping to save time and money over the life of a vessel.
Bradford Products, one of the oldest suppliers of stainless steel pools in the United States, manufactures and tests all of its products in its factory. “We go through this laundry list of checking and rechecking that we’ve learned over time to make our product installation seamless,” says Greg Mash, director of creative design at Bradford.