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Howard Hughes Pool – Mosaic Tile by Ray Corral – Mosaicist

An in depth look at the infamous Howard Hughes Pool. We discuss the project with industry veteran Mosaic Tile Artist Ray Corral of Mosaicist.



Howard Hughes Pool - Pool Magazine - Mosaicst Ray Corral Designer

Today we’re looking at one of the most iconic pools in the world, the infamous Howard Hughes Pool located in Coral Gables Florida. The home is one of many formally owned by legendary business tycoon, director and aviatorHoward Hughes. Now owned by Bay City investors Matthew Meehan and his husband Rod Hildebrant, the South Florida couple had the pool installed shortly after purchasing the home.

Due to the landmark nature of the residence, the homeowners wanted a world class pool design that would be true to the time period of the home. Consequently, they called in mosaic tile expert Ray Corral – Mosaicist to create this fabulously intricate mosaic design and perform the installation.

Recently we had the opportunity to catch up with the designer of this artistic masterpiece. Corral is one of the industries leading installers of Swimming Pool Mosaics. Widely respected throughout the pool industry, Corral has been designing and installing his mosaic artwork for over 20 years. A mosaic tile designer adhering to old world methods of tile installation, Corral manufacturers and hand cuts all of the tile used in his remarkable mosaic designs.

Howard Hughes had this home built in 1926 - Recently Ray Corral's mosaic tile interior now graces the swimming pool of this icon landmark home in Coral Gables, Florida.
Ray Corral’s mosaic tile interior now graces the swimming pool of this icon landmark home in Coral Gables, Florida built by Howard Hughes in 1926.

“No other company in the United States does this level of planning and design for their clients. We perform all the manufacturing as well as the installation of our products.”


Howard Hughes Pool Interior Design Concept

The Mosaic Pool Design pattern was created from elements in the fireplace mantel of the home.

We asked how he first conceived of the design pattern. Corral explained “We got the design elements and accents from the mantle on the fireplace. That was actually perfect for the period and kept the continuity the homeowner was looking for in the design”

The Howard Hughes Pool Has It’s Challenges

We asked Corral how this particular project differed from the many other mosaic pool interiors he’d designed over the years.

“Both radiuses from the spa were a challenge. The floor of the pool is tilted down towards the spa wall and has two radiuses. The homeowners also preferred not to empty the pool for design measurements, so that was a bit of a challenge” said Corral.

“Ultimately, we wound up using laser measurement equipment, strings, whatever we could. We actually wound up eventually just diving into the water to get the correct measurements. ” continued Corral.

“Before we could even get started we had to chip out the old plaster interior which was incorrectly applied and about an inch and a half thick.” said Corral “We coated the walls with Basecrete around the perimeter making sure all surfaces were level and plumb.” he continued “We then had to mix our own setting materials and retardants to be able to move and manipulate and expand and contract all this mosaic work to fit flawlessly the way it does.”

Mosaicist Pool Tile Installation
Mosaicist Pool Tile Installation
Hand cut mosaic tile installation
Hand cut mosaic tile installation
Watch a video walkthrough of the infamous Howard Hughes pool designed by Ray Corral – Mosaicist

Old World Methods of Installation

Corral described his old world methodolgy of mosaic tile installation combined with the latest standard defined by the Tile Council of America. “Our process uses the old world mortar method wet set, once you do the walls you can install with a trowel.” said Corral. “We open and close the designs around the pool floor like an accordion.”

How This Intricate Design Pattern Was Installed

One of the most incredible aspects of the pool design is how it runs edge to edge. We asked Corral why it’s often so difficult for designers to achieve a seamless look. “You have to understand, mosaic tile gets manufactured in a flat plane.” said Corral “When you lay the pool tile out for installation, it’s now going in a concave plane. It takes experience to know how to work the tile design as you’re installing it. We’re forcefully manipulating the tile as we lay it down using the wet set method. This allows the piece to breathe, expand and contract until we get the exact look we are going for.”

Due to the intricate nature of the design, it’s astounding that Corral and his team were able to complete the actual installation of the mosaic tile in the pool’s floor in just two days time.

“We’re able to think around corners and really push the limits. We’re one of the few companies that does all their own design, manufacturing and installation. “

Ray CorRAL- mosaicst

Corral accredited part of the success of this project to Greg McIntosh of GSM Builders in Fort Lauderdale. This incredible inground pool interior is merely a footnote in an already astounding repertoire and ever growing body of work.

Howard Hughes Pool - Night Time Shot of Mosaic tile

The “Howard Hughes Pool” as it’s become known, is certainly eye candy and a conversation piece that has been a hit in magazines and on social media. Images of the pool have been shared millions of times and it has become one of the most iconic images associated with Mosaic Swimming Pool Designs.

Today Ray Corral continues to collaborate with leading pool builders and design firms. His firm creates intricately designed mosaic tile pieces for high end residential homes and commercial businesses. Already no stranger to six figure mosaic tile installations, their design work can be seen in luxurious resort style pools all over the globe.

An expert in the field of mosaic tile, he is passionate about his new method of applying real 24k gold for underwater pool applications. His method utilizes new technology that presses and applies real gold accents and designs. A notoriously difficult material to work with, Corral says his method helps prevent gold from tarnishing and allows for larger areas of gold than one typically finds in luxury pools. We’re eager to see it in application. To track his progress and learn about his other amazing creations, follow Ray Corral and his company Mosaicist on Facebook and Instagram.

4.8/5 - (53 votes)

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 [email protected] or call (916) 467-9118 during normal business hours. For submissions, please send your message to [email protected]

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The Indoor Ocean Where The US Navy Tests Its Ships

Take an insiders tour of the Indoor Ocean where the US Navy tests its ships.



One of the world’s largest wave pools sits at the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center. They use the facility to create waves of specific sizes, frequencies, and amplitudes. Since 1962, the US Navy has tested all of its ships, platforms, and moored systems in realistic sea conditions at the Indoor Ocean in NSWC Carderock.

Approximately 240′ x 360′, the enormous basin is 20 feet deep and holds 12 million gallons of water. In addition, it also once held the record for having the world’s largest dome.

Indoor Ocean Used To Predict Ship Performance

The Navy uses the facility to predict how their full-scale ships will perform in the open ocean by testing their stability and control in a vessel that simulates real-world wave conditions. The maneuvering and seakeeping basin, also nicknamed (MASK) is where the US Navy tests its fleet. Built in 1962, and renovated in 2013.

The Indoor Ocean received an upgrade from 21 slow and inefficient pneumatic domes to 216 paddles. Consequently, today, operators have better and more independent control. With 99 percent precision, the results produced at the renovated facility provide far more realistic conditions than its predecessor.

NSWC Carderock is one of eight Naval Sea Systems Command Surface Warfare Centers. Credit: DOD

Engineers at the facility evaluate operability, ship motions, and efficiency. MASK researchers can then use this information to fine-tune a new vessel’s design to maximize its chances of achieving the desired level of performance. Testing also aids in establishing operational guidelines for the crew and ensuring the correct configuration of the ship.

The US Navy uses the Indoor Ocean facility at NSWC Carderock to conduct tests for the design of its fleet. Credit: DOD

“There are many different kinds of waves,” Calvin Krishen, NSWC engineer, said in a YouTube video uploaded by the Department of Defense. “Waves are different in different parts of the world and they are different depending if you are close to shore, or away from shore or whether you’re in a storm or not. We actually have the capability of programming all those different types of waves to test.”

Conducting Testing & Analysis To Create Better Ships

Engineers perform rigorous tests and manufacture vessels to a smaller scale in order to see how they will perform out on the open ocean. Based on the analysis conducted at NSWC Carderock, ship designers can make necessary adjustments to improve performance in real-world conditions.

Ship designers can make any necessary adjustments based off analysis conducted during wave simulations. Credit: DOD

How This Enormous Wave Pool Works

The machine that operates the wave pool consists of a paddle system that lines two walls of the pool. The system consists of 216 individual wavemakers capable of producing waves of varying sizes from -45 degrees to 135 degrees.

The paddle system is programmed for choreographed movement. It creates reproducible, perfect-sized, perfect-frequency waves. Force transducers create air bellows that go across the pool at specific angular motions. The motion is akin to fingers moving across the keys of a piano.

A series of choreographed bellows control the paddle system that creates the waves. Credit: Vertasium

There are wave pools located all over the world but what makes the Indoor Ocean unique is its ability to create reproducible waves of specific amplitude and frequency. Wave conditions vary in different parts of the world. MASK, however, is capable of mimicking the same conditions that exist during various times of the year in any location across the globe.

Paddles are programmed to create repeatable waves of specific frequency. Credit: Veritasium

Why The Need To Upgrade?

The old pneumatic-powered wave system used antiquated technology. The Navy requires a facility capable of performing the rigorous testing demanded by engineers. In the past, the testing team sometimes had to relocate their models to the actual ocean and study the weather in order to recreate the perfect wave conditions.

Today, designers create models as large as 30 feet in length. Operators submerge them in MASK’s turbulent waters to simulate their future working conditions.

Data analysts conduct tests to see how ships will perform at sea. Image Credit: Licet Studios

Precise computer controls may be the most useful part of the new high-tech system. Testers can design a certain marine environment and tell the computer how to achieve it. Operators program a 3D model of the exact waveform they want to simulate.

“We can nail, at scale, the conditions all over the world,” said Jon Etxegoien, Head of Naval Architecture & Engineering, “So it’s not just that we can do some kind of rogue sea states, we can actually do the kind of seas they can expect in the North Atlantic, the South Pacific, littoral areas, that sort of thing. So that’s what gives us a real leg up. It’s not just some generic sea condition, but the specifics of where they’re going to be operating.”

Take a Tour Inside Where The US Navy Tests Its Ships

Does it shock and awe us that the United States military owns the best wave pool in the world? Not really. However, it does fill us with enormous pride to know that dedicated professionals perform the highest level of testing and analysis for the vessels that comprise our naval fleet.

Featured Photo Credit: Department of Defense

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China Claims Title For World’s Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool

New business tower in China has a pool with breathtaking views from the 71st floor.



China Claims The Title For World's Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool

The title of the World’s Highest Outdoor Swimming Pool now goes to China. Construction of a new 1,322-foot-tall tower by Chicago-based architects Goettsch Partners is now complete in Nanning, China. The tower’s crowning feature is an outdoor swimming pool that, according to the architects, is the highest in the world.

Title for Highest Outdoor Pool Goes To China

The hotel’s pool on the 71st-floor terrace is 1,060 feet above the ground, making it the highest in the world. Previously, the 57th-floor infinity pool at Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands held the title.

Guangxi China Resources Tower claims the title for the world's highest outdoor swimming pool.
Guangxi China Resources Tower claims the title for the world’s highest outdoor swimming pool.

The Guangxi China Resources Tower, at over 2.93 million square feet, is the 18th tallest building in China and the 37th tallest building in the world. It is a mixed-use design that includes a hotel, office spaces, and retail.

More than 60% of the 86-story structure’s lettable space, or 272,000 square meters, will be occupied by offices. Approximately 6,000 square meters of retail space and a Shangri-La Nanning hotel with 336 rooms are also planned.

“The building is a symbol of rising prosperity for the city,” notes James Zheng, AIA, LEED AP, CEO and president of GP. “It further sets a world-class standard for quality that is meant to endure.”

The tower, developed by Shenzhen-based China Resources Land, will serve as the focal point of a brand-new 90-hectare urban quarter in Nanning. The podium and basement of the building are linked to the structures around it.

The hotel's infinity pool sits on the 71st floor of the massive sky scraper.
The hotel’s pool sits on the 71st floor of the massive skyscraper in Nanning, China.

Beginning in 2014, the building process will be completed by the end of 2020 (November). The company claims that the building is completely occupied and functional now that the interior fit-out is complete.

One of a Kind Panoramic Views

The hotel emerges atop the office volume, drastically altering the building’s profile. The lower volume is capped by a monumental terrace at Level 71, which serves as a one-of-a-kind outdoor sky space where guests can swim in the hotel’s pool. From sunrise to sunset, the sweeping 180-degree panorama offers unparalleled views of the surrounding lakes, parks, and mountains.

The tower is an essential part of a larger mixed-use development, and its design to LEED Gold standards places an emphasis on sustainable sites and energy optimization. The podium and basement levels of the various buildings work together to form a seamless network that is optimized for the greater master-planned development. Sunshades on the building’s exterior, combined with a high-performance façade enclosure system, allow for abundant natural light and breathtaking vistas to penetrate every level while significantly cutting down on energy consumption.

Mechanical systems have been developed to maximize the efficiency of operation, reduce energy and water use while increasing comfort levels inside the building. The highest quality materials are used throughout the structure to emphasize longevity and durability and lessen the building’s future impact on the local environment.

“The tower is a sustainable response to its urban context,” sayid Travis Soberg, AIA, LEED AP, in a press release. “The building integrates conservation methods throughout the design that reinforce our commitment to environmental responsibility.”

Photo Credits: Goettsch Partners

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Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature – Mirage Volcano Set to Close

Hard Rock confirms iconic Las Vegas fire feature, Mirage Volcano will close.



Las Vegas Losing Classic Fire & Water Feature - Mirage Volcano Set to Close

The Mirage’s fiery volcano, which has been erupting regularly on the Las Vegas Strip for over 30 years, will soon cease activity forever.

Since MGM Resorts International sold the property to Hard Rock International last year, the resort has been undergoing a rebranding process, and the resort’s iconic volcano will not play a role in the new resort plan.

The time of the final eruption for the Mirage Volcano is unknown, and neither Hard Rock nor MGM officials would confirm exactly when the volcano would be dismantled. They plan to build another one of Hard Rocks guitar-shaped hotels in the space.

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About The Mirage Volcano

When the resort opened on November 22, 1989, the volcano quickly became a fan favorite. A modeled three-acre paradise resembling the South Seas is routinely jolted awake by the ominous rumbles of the Mirage Volcano throughout the night. Rapid movement of water along with creative lighting resembles lava.

Exciting flames shoot over 60 feet into the air. If you’ve ever watched the show from the street, you can literally feel the searing heat. With music composed by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, more than 150 Fireshooters, developed by WET Design (who also created the Fountains of Bellagio), propel fireballs in a dramatic choreographed display.

The volcano was one of the first free attractions paving the way for others like the pirate battle at Treasure Island, the light shows and concerts at the Fremont Street Experience, and the Bellagio fountains.

From 8 p.m. until 11 p.m., the volcano at the Mirage continues its hourly eruptions. We took the opportunity to see this fiery spectacle, perhaps for the last time, while exhibiting at the PSP Deck Expo recently. The street was packed with onlookers watching the show on the street.

Elaine Wynn, who was married to casino magnate Steve Wynn at the time, first came up with the idea for the volcano as a great way to differentiate the Mirage from the competition.

In recent years, however, Las Vegas has been shifting away from a transparently thematic approach with its newest resorts, including the Cosmopolitan (2010), Circa (2020), and Resorts World (2021), and its reliance on free attractions and loss leaders, such as buffets and poker rooms, to bring in the bustling crowds.

Las Vegas Residents Eager To Keep Attraction

There has been a running sentiment amongst casino insiders that free attractions such as the Mirage Volcano have turned into a drain on profits. In light of the news that the Volcano is slated to be removed, many Las Vegas residents have expressed they do not want to see the attraction go.

“When I heard the news, I remember just wondering why this was going to happen,” Alden Gillespy, a longtime resident of Las Vegas and critic of removing the volcano, told the Las Vegas Sun. “The fact that they were going to tear down the volcano, that hit me personally.”

Every time it goes off, the Volcano in Las Vegas draws in hundreds of people, both young and old, to the Strip. The idea of tearing it down has been met with pushback. A group of passionate residents in Las Vegas has banded together to compel Hard Rock International and the city government to stop the new owner from demolishing what they say is a historic landmark. A petition to protect the volcano has over 9,000 signatures of support.

Among those who think the volcano should be preserved is UNLV history professor Michael Green.

“We lost a lot of hotels on the Strip because of the understandable need to build better, more modern hotels,” Green told the Sun. “The volcano is a reminder of how it helped trigger the modern Las Vegas boom.”

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