Ellicott City pool house evokes the elegance of an ancient Roman bath

Marty Marren has always loved a design challenge.
The Baltimore architect and principal of Marren Architects has designed wineries in California, transformed 19th-century Baltimore rowhouses into open, modern homes, and converted a former warehouse to a light-filled home and art gallery.
But one of his latest projects, a 4,000-square-foot addition harboring a 30-by-60-foot saltwater pool, put his skills to the test.
The homeowner wanted Marren to design the pool house as a central gathering place for her multigenerational family. She also wanted to connect it to her custom stone-and-cedar home.
“The challenge was adding a larger building to the existing house without overwhelming it,” he says.
The Ellicott City home sits on a 10-acre lot that slopes down to a creek. Marren designed the pool house in the back of the home to minimize its height and its visual impact compared to the main house — the pool house is not visible from the street.
The massive space features a barrel-vaulted roof similar to those used in ancient Roman baths. Glue-laminated curved beams accentuate the 50-foot clear spans needed to house the pool. The airy space is encased in windows, allowing for plenty of natural light and views of the outdoors.
Family members can view the pool from the main home’s living room through glass doors that lead to a sky-lit balcony with glass railings. They can head down to the pool deck through the basement or by using an elevator added between the two structures.
High-tech touches keep maintenance to a minimum; a geothermal well system minimizes the energy required to heat the pool, a dehumidification system controls the building’s moisture levels and air supply registers reduce the chance of condensation on the pool house’s windows.
Outside, its stone base and piers resemble those of the main house, creating a seamless transition. The exterior’s honey-colored cedar siding keeps the pool house warm and residential-looking, Marren says.
The project, which began in 2008, was finished last year.