Swimming pools are a common enough amenity in luxury buildings, but a new wave of residential towers is lifting the humble pool to new heights—as many as 300 feet in the air, in fact.
Sky pools are going up in New York and London, which will allow for swimming high above the hustle and bustle of the city. In addition, cantilevered pools and terraces are part of a plan for a new development in Los Angeles that could be as tall as 57 stories, and a 30-story tower in Mumbai is also proposing individual pools as part of its design. The pools all benefit from advanced technology and engineering, but they definitely aren’t for acrophobics.
The American Copper Buildings, two luxury rental towers on First Avenue between East 35th and East 36th streets, will feature the first new major skybridge in New York City in 80 years. The bridge will connect the two buildings and include a 75-foot lap pool suspended 300 feet up above the ground.
“The bridge will be all glass. You’ll be able to see the skyline of Midtown Manhattan and the Empire State Building to the west and the East River on the other side,” said Gregg Pasquarelli, a founding principal at SHoP Architects, which worked with developer JDS on the project.
The asymmetrical towers are closest together at the 30th floor. Instead of creating two smaller amenities areas, the architects decided to connect the buildings with a skybridge to help create community in the building and give all residents access to a bigger space that also includes private terraces, a bar and restaurant, a full fitness center with a climbing wall and a hot tub.
“Where else in Manhattan can you swim from one tower to another  feet in the air?” Mr. Pasquarelli said, adding that locals have been asking him and his team about the pool. “They are flabbergasted and excited. They think it’s the coolest thing ever.” The sky bridge is set to open in May.
The pool will be surrounded by glass walls and a wood surround, but it might give some a touch of vertigo just thinking about swimming that far up. But Mr. Pasquarelli said he thought the outdoor pool on the roof, with its infinity edge facing the river, will actually be more terrifying. Phew.
One might have a slightly panicked feeling in London however, where the 25-meter Sky Pool being built at Embassy Gardens is transparent and seemingly without structure. In reality, the glass will be almost eight inches thick. Swimmers will be able to look down about 114 feet to the street, as well as see views of the city. And yes, people on the street will be able to look up and see the swimmers.
“It will feel like floating through the air in central London,” the chairman and CEO of Ballymore Group, Sean Mulryan, said in an email. Ballymore is working with Eco World on the development.
Part of the Nine Elms development on London’s South Bank, Embassy Gardens will also have a sky deck on the top of its two buildings with a bar and spa. The buildings are currently under construction, but work on the pool has not yet begun.
In Mumbai, apartments in a tower by architect James Law will have individual pools that cling to the facade of the 30-story Bandra Ohm.
“The shape of the building looks like the symbol Ohm, which is an auspicious shape in Indian culture,” said the founder of James Law Cybertecture. “I used this to inspire the shape of the tower, with cantilever swimming pools on all levels to scribe the shape of Ohm in the geometry of all the balconies together.”
Mr. Law said that the pools, which offer “stunning views,” are “attractions for the high-end buyers who want to live in an exception architecture.” The project is expected to be completed in 2019, and will also feature an egg-shaped glass clubhouse with several lounge areas and a deck terrace with a retractable roof.
Back in the U.S., a development in Los Angeles is also hoping personal pools will attract buyers: Hill & Fifth, a proposal by Jeffrey Fish. The developer last fall pitched two plans for new residential towers in the city’s Pershing Square, where he already has a restaurant and club.
Both—one 55 stories tall and the other 57—call for many of the residences to have terraces and cantilevered swimming pools “with glass bottoms and sides that can be viewed by all,” Mr. Fish told the Los Angeles Times. The building, which could be ready in 2019 if approved, would also feature a “sky lobby” on the 13th floor with open space, restaurants and views of downtown.
Mr. Fish said in a statement that the pools help create “a profile for this high-rise that is unprecedented in North America.”