Legendary landscape architect Thomas Church’s work at Donnell Garden changed the pool game forever.
This kidney-shaped pool, inspired by the hills and wetlands surrounding it in Sonoma, California, remains a mid century icon more than 70 years after its original construction. Touted as one of the country’s first biomorphic (resembling or suggesting the forms of living organisms) pools, it is the focal point of the famed Donnell Garden, designed by famed landscape architect Thomas Church in 1948.
Church is recognized as a pioneer of landscaping for incorporating the modernist design and art movements into his work, which would later be deemed “California Style.” This style focused on creating livable, usable, yet beautiful, spaces that connected nature with architecture while blurring the lines between design and function.
The centerpiece at Donnell Garden demonstrates Church’s work perfectly. A functional swimming pool is favored over an extravagant fountain. Native live oaks protect visitors from the sun and wind.
The curves of the pathways and landscaping ebb and flow with the edges of the free-form pool. An abstract sculpture by Adaline Kent can be used for sunbathing or a playground for young swimmers, while a view of the natural phenomena that inspired the landscaper is on grand display.
Looking for more inspirational pool designs? Check out Our 10 Favorite Pools and Bali meets Cali in This Tropical and Relaxing Backyard Design. And of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more Atomic Ranch articles and ideas!