WaterShapes

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Double the Pleasure

As Jimmy Reed knows well, glass tile can be an unforgiving material.  But with meticulous planning and surface preparation, he insists, even surfaces as complex as those he encountered in this project can be tiled efficiently -- without annoying visual interruptions.
As Jimmy Reed knows well, glass tile can be an unforgiving material. But with meticulous planning and surface preparation, he insists, even surfaces as complex as those he encountered in this project can be tiled efficiently -- without annoying visual interruptions.
By Jimmy Reed

Devising an approach to the application of fields of glass tile to complex surfaces is never simple, but when your goal is to do so while minimizing cuts and eliminating any visual “tics” that might stand out like sore thumbs when the work is done?  That’s taking the work to a whole different level.

The project under discussion here, built in Gilbert, Ariz., offered this sort of challenge twice – once in a large entryway waterfeature, and again in the backyard with an outsized

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Panel Discussion

When the owner of this spec house wanted something truly unique, the design prepared by Brian Van Bower met the mark on all levels, creating an elongated waterfront jewel that perfectly complements a stylish home.
When the owner of this spec house wanted something truly unique, the design prepared by Brian Van Bower met the mark on all levels, creating an elongated waterfront jewel that perfectly complements a stylish home.
By Brian Van Bower

The fun thing about working on spec houses is that, every once in a while, you run into a client who truly wants to blow the doors off – in the best way possible, of course.

That was certainly true here:  The home is right on the water on one of the islands in Biscayne Bay where Miami’s elite prefer to live, and the eventual asking price for the property was in the $26 million range, give or take.  It’s an area where few

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Chlorine Conversations

1By Paolo Benedetti

In recent years, it’s been difficult to avoid two large and related discussions about water treatment as it relates to swimming pools and spas.

One the one hand are discussions of the evils of chlorine, which, after more than a century of common and beneficial use, is still widely misunderstood by homeowners and many professionals in the watershaping trades.  On the other are conversations about chlorine-free pools and spas – another set of exchanges where there’s proving to be

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Kim Skinner

    Very informative article.
  • Well written article. Most of our upscale customers water garden and aspire to fish (most rarely do put them in) For more than twenty years we have been using no residual chemical with our system It also works best on ponds and water features with glass media in lieu of sand in the filter Backwash...
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Transparent Advantages

Finding himself in a new city in the midst of the Great Recession, Tanr Ross was willing to guide these clients through seven distinct designs on his way to an innovative (and successful) eighth approach -- a situation made both workable and tolerable by a key design tool.
Finding himself in a new city in the midst of the Great Recession, Tanr Ross was willing to guide these clients through seven distinct designs on his way to an innovative (and successful) eighth approach -- a situation made both workable and tolerable by a key design tool.
By Tanr Ross

This is the story of a project where I’m still not sure which was tested more – my creativity or my patience.

It was one of the first design tasks I tackled after moving to Katy, Texas, in 2009.  In retrospect, it may not have been the ideal time to relocate:  The full force of the Great Recession wasn’t clear at that point; I had a job but no direct way to bank on the good reputation I’d built where

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#22: Flagstone Beach Entry

2-3 farley video artBy Mike Farley

I’m a big fan of beach entries:  As I see it, they wrap at least five important design and usage issues up in one neat package.

First, they provide easy access to the pool.  Second, that access is gradual, which many bathers prefer.  Third, they bring a bit of visual drama to the water’s edge – and then repeat it where the slope breaks off into deeper water.  Fourth, they create an easy

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Seeking Perfection

5-yrsBy Mark Holden

‘Through the past two years,’ wrote Mark Holden to start his January/February 2011 Currents column in WaterShapes, ‘a handful of voices in this magazine and elsewhere have called for building pools without drains as a means of virtually eliminating suction-entrapment incidents.  The response to this suggestion has been strong, both for and against.’

‘In sifting through some of these discussions . . . one item caught my

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Elegance Squared

Designing a watershape to complement a dynamic fountain sculpture is mostly about viewpoints, writes Brian Van Bower.  But fitting it into the context of a larger and equally vibrant entertainment space?  As he discusses here, that calls for thinking theatrically as well.
Designing a watershape to complement a dynamic fountain sculpture is mostly about viewpoints, writes Brian Van Bower. But fitting it into the context of a larger and equally vibrant entertainment space? As he discusses here, that calls for thinking theatrically as well.
By Brian Van Bower

Through the years, I’ve come across all sorts of clients with unique motivations and interesting available spaces.  My task in collaborating with each of them centers on carefully evaluating the situation, sorting through various sets of possibilities and, ultimately, delivering a design that hits the mark on all possible levels.

This project, however, was a bit different from most:  The client had acquired

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Bicarb Start-Up ABCs

Working with sodium bicarbonate in starting up a newly finished watershape involves more than turning on a tap, concedes Kim Skinner.  But once a barrel is prepared, the method is simplicity itself -- and truly kind to new plaster, quartz and pebble surfaces in pools and spas.
Working with sodium bicarbonate in starting up a newly finished watershape involves more than turning on a tap, concedes Kim Skinner. But once a barrel is prepared, the method is simplicity itself -- and truly kind to new plaster, quartz and pebble surfaces in pools and spas.
By Kim Skinner

WaterShapes recently published a pair of my articles on techniques for filling newly plastered swimming pools with water and starting them on the path to a long, successful service life.  

In the second of those articles (click here), the focus was on the bicarb start-up method and the effect this approach has on the establishment of a durable plaster, pebble or quartz finish.  But rather than being a step-by-step description of how the bicarb start-up works on site, the article was about

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Recent comments

  • Guest - David Kadison

    Hi Kim, I still recommend the bicarb startup to my customers but it works well here because our water comes out of the tap 30-50 ppm hardness. I have heard of areas where the hardness is 400 ppm so the bicarb has to be added in smaller quantities.
  • Guest - Kim A Skinner

    David, I remember you as being the first contractor brave enough to try the Bicarb start-up about 15-20 years ago. That told me you were open-minded and cared about doing quality work. Yes, a cloudy mess can happen if done wrong, but I tell people that is not as bad as what acid start-ups always do...
  • Guest - David Kadison

    Hi Kim, Great article. I find most water truck owners do not want the customer climbing up on their truck and dumping bags into their tank, but it is no problem dumping the bicarb directly into the pool as it dissolves quickly. I wish more people would use the bicarb startup but find most are nervou...
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Smooth Ambition

Achieving perfection in an all-glass-tile pool/spa project is always a team effort.  But in a project as elaborate as this one, notes Jimmy Reed, the nature of the material offers special challenges as he and his expert tile installers work to make the visual magic happen.
Achieving perfection in an all-glass-tile pool/spa project is always a team effort. But in a project as elaborate as this one, notes Jimmy Reed, the nature of the material offers special challenges as he and his expert tile installers work to make the visual magic happen.
By Jimmy Reed

Every once in a while, the stars align and we’re given the opportunity to pursue and attain perfection in applying glass tile to a beautifully designed and built swimming pool and spa.  The project illustrated here is one such case:  Everything about it just snapped into place.

First, we were asked to join the design team at an early stage, so we had a good level of input on how the pool was to be laid out and its interior surfaces formed; second, the watershapes fit

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Off the Deep End

10-year logoBy David Tisherman

‘A big part of properly designing watershapes to meet specific client needs has to do with understanding how they’ll be using the body of water,’ wrote David Tisherman at the start of his Details column in January 2006.  

‘I always explore this issue with my clients, which is why, for

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Functional Aesthetics

A designer's responsibility for the look of a project doesn't vanish when a client has special needs when it comes to access to the water, writes Paolo Benedetti. Here, he runs through some options that ease the way while pleasing the eye.
A designer's responsibility for the look of a project doesn't vanish when a client has special needs when it comes to access to the water, writes Paolo Benedetti. Here, he runs through some options that ease the way while pleasing the eye.
By Paolo Benedetti

Designing swimming pools and spas for people with disabilities is a special calling for watershapers:  The process gets you involved with sets of capabilities and physical limitations that force you to think beyond the usual; it also puts you in gut-level contact with the needs of those who crave involvement with water and its potential to ease pain, make aquatic exercise possible and, via simple buoyancy, make gravity less of

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Paolo Benedetti

    For anyone desiring a warm feeling this holiday season we are still accepting donations towards the completion of the accessible pool I am building with 100% donated labor, materials and funds for Army Sgt Brian Jergens. Newly married, Brian was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan during his very fi...
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Remaking a Classic

Restoring the pool and adding a spa to a classic Mid-Century Modern home took care and restraint, observes Jimmy Reed,  But his task was made easier by an insightful, cooperative client with excellent tastes, a eye for detail and a healthy spirit of adventure.
Restoring the pool and adding a spa to a classic Mid-Century Modern home took care and restraint, observes Jimmy Reed, But his task was made easier by an insightful, cooperative client with excellent tastes, a eye for detail and a healthy spirit of adventure.
By Jimmy Reed

In the course of my career, I’ve worked with blue-chip clients from rock stars and professional athletes to Hollywood celebrities and business tycoons.  It may be my sparkling personality, but, realistically, I think it has more to do with the way I have with glass tile and custom mosaics associated with beautiful swimming pools.

My company, Rock Solid Tile of Calabasas, Calif., has worked all over Los Angeles through the years, taking its

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Chuck Baumann

    Jimmy, I always learn something new when I read articles that are written so well about our building industry. You especially are a great student of architecture, art and construction. This article starts out talking about Quincy Jones Jr and Joseph Elchler and the talents they shared together…. I ...
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Overhead Defects

When things go wrong with rooftop pools and spas, the potential for collateral damage is so great that things get urgent in a hurry -- a point Rob Holmer illustrates through two case studies in which basic errors led to big hassles in one instance and demolition in the other.
When things go wrong with rooftop pools and spas, the potential for collateral damage is so great that things get urgent in a hurry -- a point Rob Holmer illustrates through two case studies in which basic errors led to big hassles in one instance and demolition in the other.
By Rob Holmer

Rooftop pools and other similarly elevated swimming pool structures present unique sets of considerations that must be thoroughly addressed by anyone involved in their design and construction.

As was discussed in the first article in this two-part series (“Elevated Engineering,” click here), it is common for these watershapes to be constructed inside a concrete vault or supported on a concrete structural slab – either of which is usually

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Recent comments

  • Guest - Rory Schloesser

    Rob- We build a lot of pools & spas at podium levels here in Phoenix, AZ. I learned a lot from your articles and enjoyed reading them. will be sharing these. Keep up the good, helping us builders create well constructed long lasting pools. Thank you.
  • We at Gibbons Pools have a design consulting firm apart from our construction side. We have many designs for roof top pools. The waterproofing manufacturers will not stand behind their product as soon as there is a failure. Our insurance company will not cover us on any roof top if constructed out o...
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