The allure of reflecting pools in landscape design dates back to ancient Persian gardens, wherein water features were a key element of a well-balanced environment. The inherent serenity of water, especially when held in a pool specially designed to ensure a calm, glass-like surface, adds a pensive mood to an outdoor space, sometimes inspiring the mental reflection of visitors. There can be an inherent vanity in mirroring surfaces (see the Greek myth of Narcissus), but with architecture built on a scale grand enough to warrant a reflecting pool, the double image of the structure and its surroundings feels justified by the inclusion of such a simple, essential feature as water. Reflecting pools can be spotted at some of the most famous sites around the world, like the ones surrounding I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid at the Louvre, the vast pool at the Taj Mahal, or the water that surrounds the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta Georgia.
Visitors to the Louvre walk between two of the museum's reflecting pools in the Napoleon Courtyard, its main plaza and site of the glass pyramid by I. M. Pei. These serene architectural features were unveiled in 1989 as part of a mass renovation, adding a sleek modernity to the institution.
The Burj Khalifa Tower Park, a public space surrounding its namesake building, features a reflecting pool that highlights the record-breaking height of the Dubai structure by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. The landscape design, inspired by traditional Islamic architecture, is the work of SWA Group.
Decorated with statues dotted along its perimeter, the reflecting pool at Villa Pisani in Venice, Italy, is original to the site, which was designed by architect Francesco Maria Preti. The estate and its grand water feature were commissioned in 1735 by Alvise Pisani, a Doge of Venice.
The narrow pool at the center of the J. Paul Getty Villa Museum in Malibu, California adds a striking shot of turquoise to the perfectly manicured gardens in the Outer Peristyle. The sprawling site was designed in the style of Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.
Located in the center of Boston's Christian Science Plaza, this long reflecting pool provides an open horizontal plane in counterpoint to the city's tall buildings. The placid water reflects the adjacent Brutalist architecture by Araldo Cossutta of I. M. Pei & Associates.
A long pool leads up to the entrance of Chehel Sotoun Palace, a reception hall commissioned by Shah Abbas II and completed in 1646. The building's name translates from Persian to "Forty Pillars," a reference to the reflecting pool's ability to seemingly multiply its surroundings.
The crypts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King reside in the center of this calm reflecting pool. Located at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, this water feature also sits adjacent to the civil rights icon's eternal flame.
A sweeping pool of water reaches up to the entrance of the world-famous Taj Mahal, the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal commissioned by her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Flanked by cypress trees, the glass-like pool perfectly reflects the white marble building.
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"Reclining Figure," a sculpture by artist Henry Moore, lays supine in the Paul Milstein pool in Lincoln Center's Hearst Plaza in New York City. The water feature was altered from it's original design by the firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro to accommodate a restaurant, whose grass-covered, sloped roof it now reflects.
The National Mall in Washington D.C. is home to the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool designed by Henry Bacon. The pool stretches between the Lincoln Monument and the Washington Monument, calmly reflecting both sites.