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Paperback | $30.00 Short | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262720328 | 304 pp. | 8 x 10.5 in | 210| February 2000

The Springboard in the Pond

An Intimate History of the Swimming Pool


In The Springboard in the Pond, Thomas van Leeuwen looks at the domestic swimming pool and discovers an icon indispensable to the reading of twentieth-century modernism. At one level, the book is a rereading of modern architecture that will leave that story permanently altered. At another level, it is the story of the origin and evolution of the private swimming pool as a building type and cultural artifact. And at still another level, it is a material philosophy of water.

This book is the second in a planned tetralogy by the author, with each volume centered on the relationship of architecture to one of the four classical elements: sky, water, fire, and earth. The first volume was The Skyward Trend of Thought: The Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (MIT Press, 1988). The third volume, Columns of Fire: Architecture and Destruction, is currently in preparation.


"The Springboard in the Pond is a bracing intellectual plunge. A searching exploration of manners, morals, and darker truths in cultural and architectural history, it is both insightfully serious and wildly funny."
Thomas S. Hines, Los Angeles Times

"[R]ichly written and generously illustrated... van Leeuwen succeeds in showing us the depths beneath the tinest ripples of history."
Phil Patton, Civilization