WaterShapes

The web site for all professionals and consumers who've made or want to make water a part of their lives

Filling the Energy Gap

To homeowners, swimming pools have always represented fun and relaxation.  But they also can mean overwhelming energy bills, especially when heating cold water with fossil-fuel heaters is required.  As energy efficiency and conservation reclaim prominence in our national consciousness, inventor and manufacturer Mark Urban sees a brave, new world – one in which pools become a resource, not an energy drain.
To homeowners, swimming pools have always represented fun and relaxation. But they also can mean overwhelming energy bills, especially when heating cold water with fossil-fuel heaters is required. As energy efficiency and conservation reclaim prominence in our national consciousness, inventor and manufacturer Mark Urban sees a brave, new world – one in which pools become a resource, not an energy drain.
By Mark Urban

Everyone is concerned these days about electricity, gasoline and natural gas and all other forms of energy.  What is amazing is that, despite this surge in interest, very few people have considered ways in which swimming pools can be built to reduce the energy required to heat them – and by substantial amounts.

This dearth of energy consciousness has nothing to do with the manufacturers of heating equipment.  It’s fair to say that most heater manufacturers – whether they pursue combustion heating with fossil fuel, compression heating with heat pumps or passive heating with radiant solar, absorbent solar panels or solar covers – all have optimized their own products and made them remarkably energy-efficient.

The same is true of recirculation systems:  Pumps of all kinds are optimized to very high efficiencies, and the pool and spa industry has made positive improvements in acknowledging the necessities of hydraulic efficiency (although it’s fair to say we

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Stretching Out the Hand-Off

200109DT0By David Tisherman

As with every other step along the path of true quality in watershape construction, a good start-up is critical – a key transitional step requiring supervision, teamwork and passion for the work.

This is the point where a watershaper’s vision becomes reality, where construction becomes maintenance and where the clients’ dream is finally realized.  It’s another important detail, and getting it right requires complete trust and wide-open lines of communication among builder, service technician and homeowner.

That puts a premium on finding the best possible person in your area to take on the responsibility.  In my case, I consider myself very fortunate to work with a

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Precision on Deck

Today’s consumers are keen on a number of watershape ‘looks’ that call for unusually high degrees of precision in design and execution – with full-perimeter overflows riding high on many lists.  The construction challenge in these projects will always be substantial, but the hydraulic puzzle may find its solution in a prefabricated flow-over system that promises to bring the wet-edge look to more and more mainstream builders, projects and clients.
Today’s consumers are keen on a number of watershape ‘looks’ that call for unusually high degrees of precision in design and execution – with full-perimeter overflows riding high on many lists. The construction challenge in these projects will always be substantial, but the hydraulic puzzle may find its solution in a prefabricated flow-over system that promises to bring the wet-edge look to more and more mainstream builders, projects and clients.
By Doug Ruthenberg

The consumer’s appetite for beautiful water and creative watershape design has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years – and expectations, it seems, are rising right along with the hunger for exceptional details and impressions.  

Perimeter-overflow pools and basins are what an increasing number of consumers are after these days, and there’s special interest in what are called “wet-edge applications,” where the water rises to deck level and flows into a channel slot at the back edge of the coping.  It’s an amazing look – and harder to

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Thermal Potential

200107DT0By David Tisherman

Some details seem simpler than they really are.  A case in point is the one I’ll describe this time – a detail I call a thermal ledge.

In one sense, it’s really just a large a big bench located a few inches below the water’s surface, but in terms of what it is structurally and what it does to increase enjoyment of a pool, it’s something truly special.

The ledge pictured here is visually interesting in the way its stone surface picks up the rockwork used throughout the deck and the barbecue area and within the pool itself.  As important, it provides the homeowners and their guests

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Competition Without Compromise

Seeking to take a giant step to the forefront of aquatic sports in the United States, the city of Mesa, Ariz., has commissioned the design and construction of a monumental indoor swim center to be built in observance of the strictest international competitive standards.  Here’s a look at what’s been involved in realizing the city’s ambition, as seen from the perspective of the pool architecture and engineering firm that was asked to join the design team.
Seeking to take a giant step to the forefront of aquatic sports in the United States, the city of Mesa, Ariz., has commissioned the design and construction of a monumental indoor swim center to be built in observance of the strictest international competitive standards. Here’s a look at what’s been involved in realizing the city’s ambition, as seen from the perspective of the pool architecture and engineering firm that was asked to join the design team.
By William Rowley & Patricia Soto

When it’s completed sometime in mid-2002, the Mesa Indoor Aquatic Center will be among the premier U.S. facilities for competitive swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and synchronized diving.  Once it’s up and running, MIAC will be the country’s largest indoor competitive swimming facility owned and operated by a municipality; just as certainly, it will also act for years to come as host to countless world-class aquatic competitions.  

A project like this

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Sculpted for Fun

It’s easy for watershapers to get wrapped up in the beauty and creativity involved in design and construction of their projects – and he’s no exception, says fabricated-rock specialist Richard Winget.  But that doesn’t mean swimming pools can’t be fun.  That in mind, he takes us on a survey of user-friendly rock features that make his pools work for the young and young at heart while getting high marks for their remarkably ‘natural’ looks.
It’s easy for watershapers to get wrapped up in the beauty and creativity involved in design and construction of their projects – and he’s no exception, says fabricated-rock specialist Richard Winget. But that doesn’t mean swimming pools can’t be fun. That in mind, he takes us on a survey of user-friendly rock features that make his pools work for the young and young at heart while getting high marks for their remarkably ‘natural’ looks.
By Richard Winget

It’s something we in the business overlook all too often:  Swimming pools, kids and summertime go together.

That’s why pools have been so enduringly popular, even at a time when watershapers seem to be focusing more than ever before on principles of design and how their work can be artfully integrated into the landscape.  

I came to building pools from an extensive background in building man-made rocks for theme parks, which has colored my perspective on the way my pools are used.  I’ve also been swimming in backyard pools since I was a kid, and I’ve built all sorts of rockwork designs for all sorts of

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#12: Equipment Room

3-19 farley video artBy Mike Farley

For the most part, the equipment sets that power pool and spa systems are placed outdoors in spaces near their watershapes.  Maybe that’s behind a gate along the side of the house, or behind some shrubs or a wall in a corner of the yard.  Wherever they go, these equipment clusters should be positioned so that the noise made by various motors and pumps isn’t so pronounced that it

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Picture Perfect

b_400_400_16777215_00_images_archart_200104TishermanF_200104DT0.jpgBy David Tisherman

In February 1999, the cover photo on the premiere issue of WaterShapes showed a steel cage for a subgrade piling being lowered into the ground.  That image was taken from a feature article by designer/builder David Tisherman, the first of many that he has contributed to the magazine.  In that article and in another that followed in April 1999, he detailed the design and construction of an elaborate residential swimming pool project that he

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The Power of Passion

Landscape designer Melanie Jauregui believes there’s much more to good exterior design than an understanding of project parameters, sound engineering and tight planning and execution.  That’s why she takes time to uncover the aesthetic and thematic preferences as well as the emotional motivators of each client – a process that enables her to create landscapes and watershapes that not only function as desired, but speak to the heart as well.
Landscape designer Melanie Jauregui believes there’s much more to good exterior design than an understanding of project parameters, sound engineering and tight planning and execution. That’s why she takes time to uncover the aesthetic and thematic preferences as well as the emotional motivators of each client – a process that enables her to create landscapes and watershapes that not only function as desired, but speak to the heart as well.
By Melanie Jauregui

It’s natural for me to wax poetic about my work.  Gardening and garden designs are what I call my “magnificent obsession” – so much so that the other arts in which I have an interest and for which I even have talent will generally take a back seat.

After more than 19 years as a professional landscape designer, I am still driven and excited by the challenge of creating comprehensive landscapes for my clients.  I thrive on the complexity of organizing the myriad elements required to create outdoor spaces that function properly, are beautiful and harmonious to the eye – and even touch

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Fun in the Sun

You won’t find too many clients who can afford to install full-scale theme parks in their residential backyards, but that’s exactly what builder Steven Knight ran into on this project.  Indeed, this owner had the imagination (and the budget) to bring a host of childhood fantasies to life over his sprawling estate in Central Florida, and now the watershapes at Foxtrotter Ranch are a true monument to kids young and old.
You won’t find too many clients who can afford to install full-scale theme parks in their residential backyards, but that’s exactly what builder Steven Knight ran into on this project. Indeed, this owner had the imagination (and the budget) to bring a host of childhood fantasies to life over his sprawling estate in Central Florida, and now the watershapes at Foxtrotter Ranch are a true monument to kids young and old.
By Steven Knight

I like a good challenge in my work, and I like to have fun making it happen.  This project embodied the best of both experiences.  

The project displayed on these pages was built for a wealthy client who lives on a working horse ranch in the rolling green countryside near Ocala, Fla.  Our company, Certified Construction, was up to the task.  We build hundreds of highly customized watershapes each year for a variety of theme parks, resorts and high-end residences.  Most have highly developed “themes,” so we’re accustomed to providing our clients with heavy doses of imagination and creativity.

The basic marching orders on this job were straightforward:  The owner wanted a theme park on his property for his kids – and he didn’t really care about

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Site-Specific Solutions

Watershapers who work with high-end clients know that almost every project is unique – different circumstances, varied objectives and diverse hurdles.  In taking on projects at this level, Tom Moneta and his staff of designer/project managers at Leisure Living Pools have found that combining a rich design vocabulary with a mastery of technical detail enables them to satisfy their clients’ desires while maximizing the potential of their backyards.
Watershapers who work with high-end clients know that almost every project is unique – different circumstances, varied objectives and diverse hurdles. In taking on projects at this level, Tom Moneta and his staff of designer/project managers at Leisure Living Pools have found that combining a rich design vocabulary with a mastery of technical detail enables them to satisfy their clients’ desires while maximizing the potential of their backyards.
By Tom Moneta & Mike Farley

At our firm, we treat every project and every customer as if they’re one of a kind – which in truth they are.

And we’ve been lucky in developing a high-end clientele that, on the whole, is looking for something special:  They enable us to treat each project as an individual work of art; at the same time, they challenge us to stretch our own abilities and increase the variety of design solutions we bring to the drafting table.

In many cases, this requires something of balancing act between what clients think they’re after and the practicalities of the site itself, the architecture of adjoining structures and the views of surrounding areas.  For that reason, each of our

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Setting Up a Ledge

200103DT0By David Tisherman

For me, the simplicity and elegance of the International Style was just about the best thing going in 20th-century design.  The followers of Walter Gropius in the Bauhaus movement held this simplicity – expressed as a cleanness of line, a uniformity of materials and the establishment of clear relationships among architectural planes – in absolutely the highest regard.

I always try to integrate these design principles into my own work – and one of the ways I do so is through the ledger detail we’ll examine this time around.  It’s an expensive

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Recent comments

  • Guest - mary

    Can you tell me if this type of ledge and stone would stand up to changes in weather such as experienced in Raleigh NC, Hot summers, Freezing winters? Or do you have other recommendations for that area?
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The Art of the Rectangle

The pool and spa are simple in shape, says builder David Tisherman, but the project was anything but:  Built on a wildly unstable Southern California hillside and intertwined with extensive remodeling of the clients’ home, the serene finished product contrasts starkly with tales of change orders and complicated decision-making processes – not to mention a desire on the part of client and designer to strive for nothing but the best.
The pool and spa are simple in shape, says builder David Tisherman, but the project was anything but: Built on a wildly unstable Southern California hillside and intertwined with extensive remodeling of the clients’ home, the serene finished product contrasts starkly with tales of change orders and complicated decision-making processes – not to mention a desire on the part of client and designer to strive for nothing but the best.
By David Tisherman

This really wasn’t a job for the timid. The ground was unstable, access was limited, and the customer could afford to make massive changes along the way.  Other than that, of course, the project was a piece of cake.

The truth is, I enjoy a good challenge.  People who know me well are aware that I revel in tackling jobs that test my mettle – and this was definitely one of those cases. Ultimately, it turned out to be one of the most satisfying and beautiful projects I’ve been involved with in a long while.

The site is located on

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