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 aviator – Howard 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.
“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.”RAY CORRAL – MOSAICiST
Howard Hughes Pool Interior Design Concept
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.”
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.
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.
Claffey Pools Acquired by Riverbend Sandler Pools
The pool industry has seen a spate of recent acquisition announcements. The latest, being the recent acquisition of Claffey pools by Riverbend Sandler Pools. Backed by Chicago-based Concentric Equity Partners, they are continuing efforts to consolidate the swimming pool construction and maintenance industry in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
The acquisition agreement was signed on December 31, 2021 but only made public on Thursday. Full details about the exact terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This marks the third major pool builder purchased by the holding company, after acquiring Pulliam Pools back in November. The acquisition of the Fort Worth-based firm made it one of the nation’s largest pool construction companies.
This recent acquisition of Claffey Pools which is ranked within the nations top pool construction companies with about $32 million in reported residential construction revenue in 2020. A builder of high-end inground swimming pools, Claffey’s average pool project costs around $142,000.
Riverbend Sandler intends to make considerable advancements by acquiring existing service and maintenance companies, in addition to focusing on construction. Consequently, they hope to become a key service provider in the state’s pool service and maintenance sector.
This in itself appears to be a key decision point for the Claffeys who are looking to expand their pool service and maintenance divisions. Last year’s Texas Pool freeze caused unprecedented amounts of damage across the Lone Star state and saw Claffey perform over 1,000 repairs as a result.
In regards to any restructuring of the organization, the Claffeys, along with their 95 employees, will remain with the company. Riverbend Sandler has announced its intentions to continue its expansion. It will continue to concentrate on Texas, for the time being, looking seriously to expand into the Austin, Houston, and San Antonio markets after having established the predominant marketshare in the Dallas area.
GENESIS Announces Newest Platinum Sponsor: Pool Magazine
(Alexandria, Va.) – GENESIS is pleased to announce its newest Platinum Sponsor, Pool Magazine. The GENESIS sponsorship program showcases companies that are dedicated to the highest standards of best practices, quality, and ethics in the pool and spa industry.
“We look forward to collaborating with PHTA and expanding our relationship as a Platinum Sponsor,” says Joe Trusty, CEO & Editor-in-Chief. “We are excited for this next chapter and look forward to making a positive impact on the industry.”
As a Platinum Sponsor, Pool Magazine will have the opportunity to maximize its brand visibility, connect with thousands of engaged industry professionals, and unlock valuable opportunities.
“We are delighted to add Pool Magazine to our distinguished list of Platinum Sponsors,” says Janay Rickwalder, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations of PHTA. “Pool Magazine has everything we look for in a partner: quality services that can benefit our members, an understanding of the importance of continuing education, and a finger on the pulse of industry trends. I am excited for this collaboration and to working together in 2022.”
For more information, please contact Janay Rickwalder, PHTA’s Vice President of Communications and Public Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.357.3918.
About the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance
The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA), a non-profit organization with nearly 3,500 members from around the world, was established in 1956 to support, promote, and protect the common interests of the $36.5B pool, hot tub and spa industry. PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development, research, and market growth to increase our members’ professionalism, knowledge and profitability. Additionally, PHTA facilitates the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach activities aimed at introducing more people to swimming, making swimming environments safer and keeping pools open to serve communities. For more information, visit www.phta.org.
Pool Contractors Gift New Pool To Grandma After Disaster
A group of pool contractors are the answer to one homeowners prayers. For years, Kitty Smitth, an 80-year old resident of Indianapolis, had dreamed of having an inground swimming pool for her 29 grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy. Smith had just recently used her life savings to purchase a home and property in South Indianapolis that she was hoping would allow her to finally realize those dreams.
Smith acknowledges that the home she purchased needed a lot of work inside, but held out hope of enjoying the backyard with her family. For Smith and her grandchildren, the backyard pool meant a safe haven from the dangers of the pandemic that was sweeping across the country last summer.
“They were here, swimming and playing. I can’t tell you how great that was. This has just been my dream my whole life,” she told reporters.
Future summer dreams would be put to an end this February when a winter storm caused her pool to collapse into a heap of disintegrating concrete and collapsed fiberglass walls. Smith was horrified to find that her backyard pool had collapsed in on itself in the night. “My whole body just started going numb and shaking. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” she told reporters.
An engineering report was conducted to determine the cause of the failure. Analysis determined that a leak may have contributed to its collapse. A new pool cover, which had just been installed, combined with the inadequate water level in the pool may have contributed to adding stress on the walls of the pool.
To add insult to injury, Smith quickly found out that her homeowners insurance would not cover the damage. Despite being a customer of the same company for over 40 years and having a policy that includes the replacement cost of an inground pool, her insurance company refused to pay a cent. They claimed her policy excluded any leak in the structure of the pool.
Smith was faced with an impossible problem. The cost of installing a new inground pool would be at least $60,000 plus an additional $20,000 for hauling away the debris from the old pool that had collapsed. “I just put everything into my house”, Smith told reporters, indicating that she didn’t have the financial resources to rebuild the pool. She stated that she felt like her insurance company had left her high and dry.
Smith contacted investigative reporters and discussed her problem with them. The reporters shared her story with some folks they knew in the pool industry that could help lend a hand. Ultimately, eight separate Indiana companies came together headed up under Automatic Pool Covers owner, Michael Shebek. Shebek pooled his resources and network to help put together a team that will help rebuild Smith’s backyard.
- Crone Customs Pools – Project Lead / Permits
- Only Alpha Pool Products – Donating Steel Walls
- Pools of Fun – Donating and installing the liner. Provide the water to fill the pool.
- Modish Pools – Donating concrete and labor to rebuild the decking
- Hendrick Pool and Lawn Service – Donating plumbing work for the pool
- C Ray Pools – Donating plumbing and electrical work.
- Automatic Pool Covers – Donating a new pool cover and providing other help.
- Cover Care – Donating installation of the pool cover
What is truly incredible about this story is that although some of the companies on this list are competitors, they are all united in the single goal to help one local resident recover the usage of her pool.
Shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday, Smith was greeted with the surprise of a lifetime. The contractors who have agreed to rebuild her pool at zero cost, showed up at her house along with the 13news team to break the good news. Overwhelmed with emotion, Smith hugged them all and said “I don’t know your names but I know your hearts,” telling the contractors, “I love you.”
Smith will hopefully have a new pool to enjoy with her grandchildren this summer. The contractors have all assured her that the unsightly mess in her backyard will be removed and a new pool installed. The entire cost of the project is estimated to cost approximately $90,000.
“Just no words. There aren’t words big enough to thank everyone,” Smith said. “I’m just so thankful.”
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