Palm Beach architects have long culled inspiration from and designed around the water that surrounds the island. Whether facing the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal, there is no shortage of glittering views—and pools, in their many forms, contain the wildness of the water. One such man who left his imprint on the architectural history of the island and its pools was John Volk. While Volk is not exclusively associated with one particular style, he in fact perfected many, from Mediterranean Revival to Modern. He is best known for the Royal Poinciana Playhouse, additions and alterations to the Palm Beach Town Hall, and his numerous grand estates. Although most of his pool designs are no longer extant, they offer a glimpse into Palm Beach’s private and public spaces devoted to outdoor leisure.
Volk designed this classic pool for Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis in 1937. In addition to the pool, the property included extensive gardens, walkways with water features, a gazebo, and a pavilion. The residence on South Lake Trail was designated as a landmark in 1990.
In 1958, Volk renovated an existing home in Phipps Plaza for himself and his wife, Jane. They referred to it as Casa de los Arcos, and it was filled with eclectic art and furnishings and included a free-form, lagoon-style pool that was fed by a saltwater well. The rock garden and various plants surrounding the pool were inspired by Volk’s travels throughout the world.
The Beach Club
When Volk designed The Beach Club on North County Road, he envisioned an ocean-facing pool that would match the elegance of the club. The Olympic-size swimming pool is flanked on either side by two-story cabanas that were equipped with “telephone service,” a luxury for the late 1960s.