Waterfront: August 2004

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Talking Walls

Murals in apartment complex an audiovisual treat.

Bringing nature indoors has been as much a trend in recent years as taking the indoors out to the backyard. The owners of the Donegal Pointe Luxury Apartments in Sioux Falls, S.D., had the former concept in mind when deciding how to decorate the complex's indoor pool and spa area. They also wanted the area to blend with the Irish theme (green walls, etc.) present in the rest of the complex. So they looked into wallpapering an attractive scene around the spa, but when they found out it would cost $3,500, they considered another option: a mural. Enter artist Darla Larsen. Though Larson's services were more expensive than wallpaper, her murals are certainly more creative and original.

Around the spa she painted an idyllic countryside scene with a bridge that's designed to "give viewers the feeling that crossing the bridge will take them to the rich meadows of Ireland," says Larsen.

"I chose not to put any people in the painting because I wanted the viewers experiencing it to feel like they were the only ones there. So it's just nature around them," Larsen says.

The owners liked that mural so much, they commissioned Larsen to create a mural for the pool room, as well. This project, like the other, was done in a style called trompe l'oeil, a French term meaning "'to trick the eye.'" According to Larsen, this is accomplished by mixing 3D objects with painted elements. In her mural, a painted waterfall becomes a functioning, 3D waterfall. "My challenge in that was trying to get painted water, which is non-translucent, to merge with the real stuff. To do that, I created a little bit of space between where one went away and the other one started so there's a visual break. I also tried to make it look like the painted waterfall was farther away than the real water."

Another challenge Larsen faced was minimizing the splash out of the waterfall to a foot. After hours of trial and error in arranging the stones, she had done it, and had created a water feature with "several mini-falls."

In both murals, Larsen says she was trying to create an environment she thought the residents would like being in. "I enjoy creating something that transports the viewer to someplace better.

After all, don't we all search to be happier. For me, nature always seems to take me to a better place, so that's where I head when I'm feeling creative. And maybe if I do [the mural] right, the viewer will feel immersed in the environment and will believe they're in a better place."

Pool Protocol

We're not sure what year this primer was published, but a good set of pool rules is still a good idea today.

Like A Duck In Water

Free event teaches importance of swimming safety.

A favorite childhood bath time memory for many people may involve splashing, bubbles and the inevitable floating rubber ducky, who rides the waves of the tub with ease and confidence.

The Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross, the city of Las Vegas and Paragon Pools hopes the "Float Like A Duck" campaign helps children to feel the same self-assurance in the water as the rubber duck they play with.

Over 250 people attended "Float Like A Duck," an event designed to educate the public on the importance of swimming safety, which included free floating lessons as well as CPR and life-saving demonstrations.

"The idea is to make floating such an innate and natural activity in the water that if for any reason a child accidentally falls in or unexpectedly finds themselves in the water, they will instinctively float to a safe area and will have the ability to call for help," says Diana Guy, community education specialist for the American Red Cross and co-chairperson of the program.

"With floating being the first element in learning how to swim, at least it will provide the child with some skill to help them from drowning," adds Joe Vassallo, president of Paragon Pools.

Event coordinators developed a song and dance to help children remember how to float. Each child participating in the day's event received a rubber duck and a T-shirt.

Make That Pool. Fast.

Olympic trials pool constructed above ground and above expectations 

The largest — and perhaps the fastest — temporary aboveground swimming venue ever constructed in the United States was built in May to host the U.S. Olympic swim trials July 7 to 14 in Long Beach, Calif. The pool not only produced lightning-fast times for Olympic hopefuls, but was erected in just three weeks.

The Charter All Digital Aquatic Centre, comprising a 7-foot-deep, eight-lane, 50meter competition pool; a 6 -foot-deep, 11lane, 50-meter warm-up pool; stadium seating for 10,000; exhibition and vendor space; and Jumbotron video screens was built next to the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center to serve as the home of the Long Beach Aquatic Festival 2004. A series of world-class swimming and water polo events, along with the Olympic trials, took place there over several weeks.

"We designed and built the whole thing on the convention center parking lot," says Randy Mendioroz, principal of Aquatic Design Group. "So that's why the pool is above ground." The Carlsbad, Calif., firm masterminded an engineering feat that may serve as the model for Olympic-caliber aquatic events in years to come.

ADG joined forces with David Jay Flood Architects of Santa Monica, Calif., local builder DWR Construction and Myrtha Pools, an international pool manufacturer based in Castiglione, Italy, to complete the project.

"They wanted a main competition pool surrounded by 10,000 spectator seats, luxury boxes and scoreboards and a separate warm up pool," says Mendioroz. It's easy enough to build a big aquatic center with seating for thousands, but after the big event, it's very difficult to fill the seats again.

"If you look at those big venues, they probably lose $500,000 to $600,000 per year," says Mendioroz. "So it makes total sense to do a temporary pool if you can pull it off."

Another advantage is being able to stage the event in existing arenas. "I talked with the folks from USA Swimming, and they are really excited about the whole deal," says Mendioroz. "They want to go to places that might have an arena that's big enough to hold 20,000 people and put a 50-meter competition pool on the floor there."

Accommodating spectators and sponsors is key to the success of events like this. But just as important is building a pool that will facilitate record-breaking performances. Mendioroz says there are many things that contribute to the speed of a pool, but he focuses on three factors that he, as a designer, can control: surface wakes, depth of the pool and return-water velocity.

Floating lane dividers absorb most of the disturbance caused by movement through the water, but wakes that do make it to the side of the pool bounce back if they are not absorbed somehow. "Our job is to make sure that once [a wake] hits the gutter, it never comes back," says Mendioroz. "So that's why we put in four times the gutter outlets that we normally would," he says. "There is only . to zero inches of water in the gutter at any time."

Another factor is the turbulence that bounces off the floor of the pool. Mendioroz says research shows that 8 feet is the optimal depth, beyond which there are diminishing returns.

Finally, the velocity of the water returning to the pool affects the swimmers' speed. "We added about 50 percent more floor inlets," says Mendioroz. "The code in California allows a velocity of up to 10 feet per second. When you have velocity that high, you get turbulence that is going to slow you down. So we designed [the Long Beach pool] at two feet per second. A guppy could swim against that.

"Everything else was just good design, making sure that the water chemistry control system is functioning properly. We have an automatic control on this system that samples the water every three seconds," he explains. "We have about eight or 10 different tests we're running on a daily basis just to make sure it's perfect."

So what happened to the temporary pools after the Aquatic Festival? "They pre-sold the pools, and they were installed permanently after the events were over," says Mendioroz.

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