Metropolis magazine’s spread, with my pick for the best hotel pool (which they altered to ‘spa’), was featured in ...

Metropolis magazine?s spread, with my pick for the best hotel pool (which they altered to ?spa?), was featured in the April issue. Architects, planners and designers were asked to pick out their favorites from hotels around the world in order to assemble a collaged ?Dream Hotel.? To see all of the choices, pick up the April issue or head here to see it online.

The Therme Vals is, incredibly, the town pool for Vals, a small village in eastern Switzerland.
In my home town we had a YMCA.

Peter Zumthor crafted virtually every part of this hillside building from layers of local stone, a beautiful greenish marble/slate sliced in thin layers. The result is a set of spaces that feel at once roughly carved from live rock, and as precise as a slide rule (I know, who even knows what a slide rule is!).

There are pools of different temperatures, each exactly tempered to a specific heat or cold. There are showers in tall stone rooms with enormous quantities of needle sharp, or waterfall or hose directed water. There is a steam rooms that moves progressively toward hell, with the red glow of fire intensifying at each step. There are lockers with black leather curtains. And a pool outside in the frigid Swiss winter reached from the safety of an interior pool.

It is almost Roman in its exploration of the interplay of water and space. And it is almost science in its precision and array of possibilities. Zumthor is the most metaphysical of western architects, and his meditation on water and stone is utterly divine.