Connect with us

Pool News

Did The Pool Deck Contribute To The Collapse at The Champlain Towers?

Cracks radiating in the ceiling of the parking structure underneath the pool deck at the Champlain Towers



Champlain Towers Pool - Did the pool deck contribute to the collapse of the building?

It’s been a week since the collapse at The Champlain Towers. The loss of life and devestation to the community of Surfside, FL cannot be calculated at this time. Workers are still scrambling against the clock and hoping against all odds to recover survivors from the deadly collapse. Almost immediately, pictures and reports began pointing to the pool deck as the possible source of the building collapse.

One of the initial first reports pertaining to the incident was from a resident who claimed that directly before the structure failed, that the pool deck was caving in. This news in itself came as a precursor to a damning structural survey discovered that was released in 2018 which pointed to numerous repairs that needed to be conducted, citing various leaks and deteriorating concrete as a necessary focus for immediate repair work.

Champlain Towers Collapse - The Pool Is Sinking Said Victim to Husband on Phone before Collapse

What Role Did Poor Waterproofing Play?

To get a better understanding of what role waterproofing may have played, we reached out to one of the leading experts in the pool industry – Vito Mariano, President of Basecrete and a recognized industry authority on waterproofing pools. Mariano’s company has been involved in over 90,000 swimming pool waterproofing projects worldwide. As an analyst, we asked him based on the photos circulating in the media what his take was on the incident. Specifically, did waterproofing play a role in the collapse of The Champlain Towers?

“Concrete is a sponge for water and it has to be protected, especially if it has steel in it. This is a perfect situation where water got to the steel – it expanded and once the metal in the steel starts to break down, you are going to get some deviation in the strength.” said Mariano.

New video footage released the other day shows what appears to be pouring water coming from the ceiling of the parking structure at the Champlain Towers, which validates what many have been saying – which is the collapse started in the parking structure near the pool deck.

What’s In The Morabito Report?

Frank Morabito’s analysis conducted in 2018 indicated a laundry list of structural repairs that needed to be conducted. Morabito’s report included major structural detoriation in the concrete slab below the pool deck, as well as abundant cracking and spalling in the columns of the parking garage.

Read the entire Champlain Towers structural analysis report from 2018

We asked Mariano if any particular shortcomings in the pool deck area may have led to deterioration and whether this is common in the pool industry.

“I do see this type of thing all the time. I get the worst swimming pool vessels in the country thrown at me.” said Mariano who explained that not all of them can be saved “Some of them have to be demolished and started from scratch”.

Many pools in South Florida are suspended between the floors of a building or over a parking structure. The need for waterproofing these vessels and the surrounding structure is imperative. Mariano explained that these types of structures are constantly prone to movement. “The structure has to maintain all that weight in place and when you get deterioration that starts, you never know… it’s a ticking timebomb”.

“Concrete needs to be protected from water, even if there is no swimming pool it still needs to be protected because you have hundreds of thousands of tons that are suspended and moving in the air.” said Mariano, “Then you have all these structures that are built on sand around these beaches. They’re all built on pylons. As we all know this building was sinking for a number of years.” continued Mariano.

What Went Wrong With The Pool Deck

The Champlain Towers had been sinking at an average of 2mm per year according to reports. In the structural survey done by Frank Morabito, his analysis defined the pool deck area as an instance of poor project planning. The flat surface of the pool deck allowed water to sit on top of the waterproofing until it evaporated.

Morabito’s recommendation was to perform immediate repairs which would consist of removing the deck waterproofing as well as the top concrete slab to gain access to the waterproofing membrane. The report stated however, that it would be impossible for full restoration and repair work on the pool corbel and wall repair work in the pool pump room to be performed. The survey indicated that “areas of deteriorated concrete appeared to penetrate deep into wall/corbel construction” and that “aggressive excavation of concrete at the severely deteriorated pool corbel could affect the stability of the remaining adjacent concrete constructions.”

The recommended repairs were going to cost approximately $15 million dollars. It’s a point of fact, that the process of conducting the repairs would have effectively shut down the building for a good portion of residents as well.

When discussing the overall cost of the repairs, ultimately it is the homeowners who were going to foot the bill. This year each resident had been assessed their fair share of the necessary repairs. On average residents were facing anywhere from $80,190 for one-bedroom units to $336,135 for the owner of the building’s four-bedroom penthouse for the recommended repairs in Morabito’s report.

The underside of the pool deck had cracks that were radiating and were fixed with epoxy injection. In the structural survey conducted in 2018, the report indicated that the application was not continuous and was evident of poor workmanship.

These images taken by a commercial pool contractor showed the most recent status of the pool equipment room.

A commercial contractor snapped some photos of the pool equipment room days before the collapse. These photos were released recently on the Miami Herald website. As can be seen from the photos, there are definite indications of major deterioration of the concrete structure in the pool pump room.

When analyzing the photos the contractor took and inspecting the deterioration, an analyst on CNN Wednesday evening determined that the photos of the pump room look bad but are inconclusive and was reluctant to say whether they represent a contributing cause in the collapse.

Cracks radiating in the ceiling of the parking structure underneath the pool deck at the Champlain Towers

In analyzing what went wrong, we asked Mariano, if this method of epoxy injection repair was correct. “You have to use a proper material to do your injections first of all.” said Mariano, “I would never use epoxy to fill a crack that is going to move. Epoxy is a very rigid material, you need something that’s going to elongate when it does move.”

Mariano recommended a waterproofing caulking and injection system for this type of application. “The failure of using the proper material will always create some damage in the future if there is any additional movement of water.”

Sadly, this type of incident is fairly common in other places of the world with lower construction standards. It is incredibly rare to see this type of structural failure in North America, however it’s not unheard of and Mariano fears that unless something is done soon, we may see more similar incidents unfold.

Many of the high rise condos in South Florida were built over 50 years ago. Mariano explained what troubles him the most is that the building standards and the quality of concrete were lower decades ago. “The stuff that they built years ago really scares me.” said Mariano, “These buildings that are falling apart were built 50, 60, 70 years ago, they’re the ones I’m really worried about. The standards then don’t even come close to the standards we have today.”

America’s $3 Trillion Dollar Concrete Bill

The problem seems systemic as these aging concrete structures become more and more expensive to fix. People have this misconception that concrete is permanent. The notion of long standing concrete structures dating back to antiquity often leads to a misguided belief that today’s concrete has the same strength or more. In actuality this couldn’t be further than the truth. Today’s modern concrete has a lifespan of roughly 50-100 years thanks to the way that modern concrete is reinforced. One of the most famous concrete buildings in America, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, cost only $155,000 to build in 1936… the cost of repairs in 2001 came to $11.5 million.

Mariano said the most troubling issue is ultimately that HOA’s do not want to pay for the necessary repairs on these older buildings. In many cases the residents are looking at over a hundred thousand dollars in assessed repairs and simply can’t afford it.

In a recent article Slate said that the dream of Florida is dead and said that the Miami condo collapse was a crisis for the entire state. A sentiment Mariano echoed when he described the issue of aging buildings and HOA’s who are reluctant to pass millions in repairs on to residents. The issue has many condo owners in South Florida concerned whether their buildings are safe or not.

As the nation speculates, the cause of the collapse is still under investigation as are rescue efforts. To date the death toll is now 22 people. So far no survivors have been recovered and approximately 126 people still remain unaccounted for. Impending weather is also expected to hamper first responders as Florida lays directly in Hurricane Elsa’s long range path. Concerns remain about the structural integrity of what is left standing. Rescuers stopped for 15 hours Thursday as engineers evaluated the remaining structure.

Listen to our complete podcast with Vito Mariano

Editor in Chief of Pool Magazine - Joe Trusty is also CEO of, the leading digital agency for the pool industry. An internet entrepreneur, software developer, author, and marketing professional with a long history in the pool industry. Joe oversees the writing and creative staff at Pool Magazine. To contact Joe Trusty email or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to

Pool News

Olympics in Tokyo a Complete Bust



Tokyo Olympics a Bust - Aquatics Facility Sits Empty

The Summer Olympics was postponed until this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For marketing and branding purposes, they are still calling it Tokyo 2020 which is weird, but okay marketing is expensive and to be honest, most of us are just fine with pretending last year never even happened.

This does nothing to address the elephant in the room which is, no one is allowed to attend these Olympic venues and a huge percentage of viewers forgot they were even happening this year. By no means should this diminish the incredible effort the United States swim team is putting on. Already they have won 8 medals and are expected to dominate most of this years 18 different swim events on the program.

There is a stunning new aquatics arena in Tokyo Bay that was built specifically for the Olympics. It’s a brand new facility, that in the normal course of events should have been packed to the rafters with 15,000 fans during a typical Olympic year. Unfortunately, there is nothing normal about this Olympics and spectators are not allowed. The facility which was part of the tremendous $15.4 billion dollar investment Tokyo made in order to win the bid for hosting the Olympics, sits nearly empty for all of this summers Olympic events. In actuality, the final figure for this entire folly will probably be closer to $20 billion making this the most expensive Olympics ever.

A new half billion dollar aquatic center which helped Tokyo secure the bid to host the 2020 Olympics sits nearly empty for all of this summers Olympic swim events.

A muted opening ceremony was televised to a dramatically reduced audience. With the stadium nearly empty, the momentus energy of the crowd was visibly missing. Most athletes wore face coverings and waved enthusiastically to tens of thousands of empty seats which further cemented the surreal oddity of all. Some athletes practiced social distancing, choosing to march alone, while others grouped together much to the dismay of event organizers. Despite the fact that its delegation has undergone several positive COVID tests since arriving, the Czech Republic joined the other countries in the opening ceremonies.

A largely empty half billion dollar stadium hosts the this summers Olympic games in Tokyo. Covid-19 restrictions are in full force as the nation of Japan struggles with a surge in new cases. Photo Credit – AFP

The opening event for the Olympics drew nearly 17 million viewers in the U.S. which may sound like a lot, but in actuality hit a 33 year low and was down nearly 36% since 2016’s Olympics. The reality is this Olympics has been a complete bust for Japan and the city of Tokyo in particular. The $500,000,000 dollar aquatics center is depressingly empty, and symbolic of the complete disinterest that has many diseffectionately refering to this Olympics as the Pandemic Games. To add insult to injury, the gleaming new insanely expensive facility probably didn’t even need to be built in the first place.

Experts who know the city of Tokyo well say that all of the swim events could have been hosted at the 45,000 seat Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants. Near by Yokohama stadium also seats 17,000 and could have easily hosted the events. The expenditure has been criticized as a needless waste of money. It is difficult to imagine a future for the facility, in fact it is scheduled to be downsized to accommodate 5,000 shortly after the Olympics are over.

The impression of being in a sterile, locked-down quarantine permeates this Olympics according to athletes and participants. There is no amount of simulated cheering and fake cardboard cutout fans that can assuade that feeling. Fans, who would ordinarily be screaming support for their countries and socializing with folks from all over the world in a carnival like atmosphere, have been barred, leaving just a highly vetted group of media, authorities, athletes, and staff.

There is an inescapable feeling of pity for the Japanese people, who will pay a colossal financial price for their government’s overzealous spending and a global pandemic which they had no way to predict would happen.

Feature Photo Credit: ABS / CBN

Continue Reading

Pool News

Too Big To Fail – Olympus Pools Implodes



Olympus Pools is out of Business - Tampa florida pool builder implodes

We first began writing about Olympus Pools back in April of this year after investigative reports broke news that the Land O’ Lakes pool builder was in deep trouble. Allegations of unfinished pools, unpaid subcontractors and distributors and a long list of angry customers put Olympus in the spotlight and for all the wrong reasons.

In the past few months we have had numerous interactions with owner James Staten, James Judge (a PR representative Staten hired to represent Olympus a few months ago), and Jordan Hidalgo, a well known pool builder who had supposedly partnered with Olympus Pools to salvage the ongoing projects they had, as well as the firms battered reputation.

In late May, Olympus Pools had released a press release stating that Jordan Hidalgo, a well respected figure in the pool and spa industry would be taking on co-ownership of Olympus Pools.

However, this week after rumors began circulating about impending foreclosures on homeowners as well as another major blow due to unpaid workers compensation insurance causing a work shut down, Hidalgo released this statement to the media.

“During our due diligence period, it became apparent that the company was not in the same position as it appeared originally,” Hidalgo said a statement on Tuesday. “As a result, I have decided to cut my losses and am walking away from the opportunity. I am hoping the best for Olympus Pools and their customers.”

Olympus Pools currently has hundreds of ongoing pool construction projects in various stages of development. Potentially a hundred open holes in the ground with only rebar according to one source.

We reached out to Staten’s PR representative James Judge to get a comment to which he replied “We actually no longer represent Olympus Pools”. His leaving directly coincided with Hidalgo’s announcement.

James Staten responded to Hidalgo’s departure to investigative journalist Shannon Behnken in an email contradicting Hidalgo’s version of the story. Staten stated that Hidalgo was “never able to ‘buy’ even a portion of Olympus,” and said that, “there has been no ‘due diligence period’ and Mr. Hidalgo has failed to perform even his most basic obligations.”

We touched base with Hidalgo this week to get his side of the story to which he replied, “That is an absolute lie. I tried to be classy about this entire thing but I can see he (Staten) is not going to let that happen. There is more information coming out in the media, just wait.” To which Hidalgo eluded that this week there would be a major announcement coming.

Olympus Pools is Out of Business

This morning Olympus Pools officially announced that they will be shutting down operations after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation asked them to surrender their license. This effectively means that Olympus Pools will be unable to continue working on any current projects they have contracted for.

“Over the last several months at Olympus Pools, we have endured constant negative media coverage encouraging viewers to file complaints with Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As a result, the DBPR has forced us to voluntarily relinquish our license. This means we are no longer allowed to continue working for any of our customers. We have fought hard and would have continued to do so for as long it took to complete every project.”

“Although we are greatly disappointed in the decision, we understand the pressure that has been placed on the Department to act. We do not feel the decision is beneficial to our community or our customers, however, it was not our decision to make. If it were up to us, we would continue working for our customers.”

“We have enjoyed servicing the Tampa Bay area for close to 10 years. We are proud of the thousands of projects we have built and the work we have done for our community in that time. We are grateful for all of the support the vast majority of our former customers, employees, friends, family, and neighbors have shown us during this time.”

Sources close to the organization disclosed to Pool Magazine that Olympus Pools currently has hundreds of ongoing pool construction projects and anywhere from 50-100 open holes in the ground.

It is expected that a variety of agencies will now descend to perform a collection of assets however, the south showroom for Olympus Pools has been completely emptied out according to a source close to Pool Magazine. How this bodes for the unlucky homeowners who entrusted Olympus Pools with their swimming pool projects remains to be seen, however already many have begun to receive lien and foreclosure notices on their homes.

Featured Photo Credits: WFLA

Continue Reading

Pool News

Sky Pool – One on One with the Manufacturers

An in depth look at the engineering marvel that is the Sky Pool



The iconic Sky Pool in London has finally arrived and the overnight sensation that this pool has become is nothing short of remarkable. One of the most highly anticipated new pool projects, this incredible and instantly iconic pool has been written about incessantly since it was first devised.

This unique see-through acrylic wall pool sits suspended between two towers of the Embassy Gardens in London, England. Recently we had the opportunity to chat with Paul Gardner Vice President of Engineering for Reynolds Polymer, the manufacturers behind this creative and captivating new swimming pool vessel.

In preparation for our meeting, we hopped on one of our favorite social media groups Ask The Masters and found out what questions the pool industry had about the Sky Pool. There were a lot of interesting questions, which was indicative of how fascinated pool builders are about this project.

Sky Pool Has Worldwide Notoriety

We asked Gardner what it was like working on such a high visibility project. “We’re engineers and weren’t thinking about the marketing benefits that early on. Now it’s fun to be on it and we see how exciting it is from that standpoint.” said Gardner.

Given that Reynolds Polymer is a manufacturer of acrylic panels, there are very few companies around the world that could take on a project of the size and magnitude of the Sky Pool. Still, we wanted to know how Reynolds got the nod for this particular project.

A Short List of Manufacturers

Reynolds Polymer is one of a handful of companies in the world that can take on projects of this magnitude.

“Y’know when you do something crazy with acrylic, there is only a few of us that can do that and really only a few that are willing to do it from an engineering standpoint to come up with a good solution, so the field was pretty narrow to begin with.” said Gardner.

“The client came to us pretty quickly.” said Gardner, “We worked on it a long time just to make sure something like this was even feasible.” Reynolds Polymer would go on to secure the design contract as well as the engineering contract shortly after that.

Engineering Hurdles To Overcome

Ultimately, there are probably only a handful of companies around the world that can take on a project of this scope. “When it comes to being monolithically cast, we’re the only ones that do it like that. All of our competitors will laminate. So, they’ll take thinner sheets and glue them together. But in this case getting a monolithically cast part, enabling us to use some of our other methodologies such as signature bonds, that’s the only way you could have done it.” said Gardner.

This particular project had many engineering challenges Reynolds Polymer had to overcome. One of them was accounting for movement from the actual structure of the building. We asked Gardner what his team did from an engineering standpoint to account for settling and movement between the two buildings.

Sky Pool: Engineering of the Vessel

“The swimming pool itself is set up as really an isolated box. On both ends, the acrylic is sitting in a steel tub and that steel tub is then sitting on concrete columns and supported by bearings. The steel tub and the acrylic vessel are cinched together with 2 tension rods underneath which are the only visible structural elements that you can see other than the acrylic. That creates essentially an open top box that can float depending on the movement of the buildings.” said Gardner.

“It can also be adjusted for settling. If there was enough settling, you could get in there and adjust the height of the bearings with either some shims or whatever was necessary to get it back to level.” continued Gardner.

Reynolds Polymer monolithic casting process enabled them to create the 14-inch-thick acrylic panels for the Sky Pool.

Determining the Thickness of the Acrylic

Determining the proper thickness for the vessel encompassed doing finite element analysis, a widely used method for numerically solving differential equations arising in engineering and mathematical modeling. “We had lots of different load cases that we were looking at,” said Gardner, “By running through that and looking at like 15 or 20 load cases, we settled on a thickness. The thickness is really driven by long term stress. How much stress the acrylic can see to enable it to last for decades.”

Analysis of Natural Frequencies – Image Credit: Eckersley O’Callaghan

The acrylic itself is resting on two steel tubs on either end that is supported by cementitious grout between the acrylic and the steel shelves the entire U channel structure is sitting on.

“You don’t build this and test it and expect it to fail.” said Gardner. All of Reynolds engineering and structural analysis was confirmed by an independent third party who determined the engineering specifications were precise. The polymer system of the Sky Pool is expected to last for at least 50 years.

Some of the questions we got from the pool industry pertained to actual seismic activity that may cause the structure to shift. We also wanted to know about the usability of the Sky Pool under real world conditions.

A 3rd party structural analysis was done by Eckersley O’Callaghan

“Fortunately, London is not a very seismically active area. If there is such a thing, the pool is set on a system of bearings. It’s fixed on one side, and it’s allowed to move on the other. If there was any differential movement whether that’s seismic or heavy winds, there is ability of that structure to move independent of the pool.” said Gardner.

In playing devil’s advocate, we asked Gardner what the design entailed to keep water from the pool from splashing down below and keep the pool from freezing.

The walls of the Sky Pool are 8 feet high over the span of the center of the pool. One question we got asked is about water splashing out of the pool down on pedestrians below.

“The walls are about 8 feet high. They would have to splash it over the edge, and there is no reason they couldn’t. You have to have the safety walls up there so that people aren’t doing anything too crazy and hanging over the edge once you’re that high up. Otherwise, people could splash and get things over the edge if they get too wild.” said Gardner.

The pool itself is heated year round so the potential for the vessel freezing is nil. “The water is heated year-round so that water is never going to get an opportunity to freeze to a solid block. Plus, it doesn’t get that cold in London consistently enough to where you could have that happen.” said Gardner in responding to whether a pool freeze could cause damage.

Concealing The Plumbing

The filtration system for the Sky Pool has the pump room on one end of the two towers of Embassy Gardens so the water circulates from one side to the other. With no visible plumbing in the photos we have seen have the Sky Pool, we asked Gardner exactly how they managed to conceal all the plumbing. “You’ll notice a pedestrian bridge just north of the pool itself and there is some pipe work that runs through that pedestrian bridge that takes the water back over to the other side.”

A pedestrian bridge runs alongside the sky pool and cleverly conceals all the of pipework for the pool plumbing.

Maintaining The Sky Pool

Another big question that was on our minds as well as many other folks in the pool industry was, how do you clean and maintain a pool that high up? “Obviously the wet side is easy to get to in to clean.” said Gardner, “The dry side… we’re pushing the limits of what you can reach with a man lift on the ground. That’s the process right now. They’ve got a man lift that can go up 10 stories and somebody is cleaning it on the dry side on a regular basis.”

Getting the Sky Pool ready for transport to the Embassy Gardens took an enormous amount of planning and was a monumental undertaking involving crews on both sides of the pond.

Transporting this massive 175,000-pound acrylic structure to the Embassy Gardens in London was no easy task. “The interesting thing is when we were finally finished with it and ready to get it out of here, in Colorado we were having a bunch of wildfires. Even with the best planning and routing, we had to re-route it because the fires had shut down the highways on the route we wanted to go.” said Gardner.

Sky Pool leaving colorful Colorado on a 5,000-mile trip to its new home at the Embassy Gardens.

“We got stuck on the Texas border because Hurricane Laura was coming through Houston which was the port we were going out of. We sat on the Texas border for a day or two waiting for Laura to clear out to where the ports would open back up.” said Gardner.

We followed the progress on Reynolds Polymers social media pretty much the entire way and like many other folks in the pool industry, wondered what the permitting process and logistics process was like. As it turns out transporting the vessel was a massive undertaking that took years of planning and coordination. “Permitting takes you multiple months because we had to get all the escorts lined up. It’s not the first large project for us though. For a small town of Grand Junction, Colorado we move a lot of material out of here.” said Gardner.

It certainly isn’t the first large scale acrylic pool project Reynolds has been involved with. Other incredible projects they have undertaken over the years include world class pools and structures all over the globe.

Reynolds Polymer manufactured the 200,000-gallon aquarium in the center of the swimming pool area at Golden Nugget

Reynolds Polymer has made a name for themselves in the pool industry for manufacturing, designing, and engineering over the top see through acrylic pool vessels and aquariums. Their work is rapidly gaining traction with luxury homeowners as well who want their own version of the elaborate Sky Pool in their own backyard.

Another suspended acrylic pool Reynolds Polymer was involved with is the Intercontinental Hotel pool project in Dubai.

Due to the incredible amount of attention the Sky Pool has already received, we can imagine there will be high demand for this particular concept. “There has already been inquiries coming in for little Sky Pools” said Gardner. “I think because of the publicity of the Sky Pool, there will definitely be others that want something similar. It’s very attractive to have something that catches the eye and floating water is something that people can’t seem to get enough of.”

Listen to our entire interview with the manufacturers of the Sky Pool on the Pool Magazine Podcast

Watch a video of behind-the-scenes footage of the Sky Pool making its way from Reynolds Polymer’s factory in Colorado all the way to London in the UK.

Article Photos Courtesy of Reynolds Polymer

Continue Reading
Follow us on Google News
Sponsored Advertisement
Pool Magazine App on Google PlayPool Magazine App on Apple Store

Download the NEW Pool Magazine App

Recent Pool News


Pool News

Subscribe to Pool Magazine. Join our mailing list.
Subscribe to Pool Magazine on Google News and Join our Mailing list to receive pool news right in your inbox!
Subscribe to Pool Magazine
Pool News & Features
* indicates required
* indicates required
Subscribe to Pool Magazine