The Violin Pool

This Bedford, New York pool and spa won “Judges’ Best of Competition,” “People’s Choice Best of Show” and two gold awards at the Northeast Spa & Pool Association’s Outstanding Achievement Awards program in the fall of 2013. I n addition, the pool garnered a Gold medal in the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals’ (APSP) 2013 competition for a residential concrete pool 600 square feet or more.
Chris Cipriano, owner, Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey was the designer/builder of this pool and spa. He started a landscaping business two years out of high school and today,in addition to the landscaping company, he has a swimming pool design/construction firm, a pool service business, and a 10-acre farm in Mahwah where he raises unique species of shrubs and trees for specialty projects. He has an architectural office in Mahwah and the company employs 30 people. During the season, he has five to 10 crews on the road to handle construction and service work.
While Cipriano started the business focused on landscaping,the company soon grew and developed an expertise in masonry. He worked with general contractors, a pool builder, but eventually took his pool building projects in-house. Cipriano has a service company the services the pools that the firm builds: “We do our own service on the pools we build. We do a lot of glass tile work and improper use of chemicals on glass tile is a big issue in the industry. Because we have installed the material, we also want to maintain it.”
Regarding the violin pool and spa featured in this section,Cipriano met with the client and determined that he wanted a large lap pool. In addition, because he was an amateur violinist, the client wanted a music-themed poolscape. The idea soon emerged of a lap pool in the shape of a violin. The client loved the idea.
While Cipriano is an expert pool builder and landscaper, he said he is no violinist. Therefore, he and his design team researched the instrument down to every detail and specification, including the “f” holes, the violin strings and the various positions of the tuning pegs at the end of the neck. The designers made templates for everything.
Cipriano’s designed a 90-foot long lap pool (the violin)that was intersected by koi ponds (the violin bow) and a spa (the violinist’s chin rest). The pool is nine feet deep at the deep end and transitions to six feet deep at the end of the violin neck. In all, the pool is 1,350 square feet.At the top of the neck is a RiverFlow system that can push out 2,000 gallons of water per minute swim or kayak against.
The pool and spa were finished in glass tile to capture the many subtleties of the violin. Cipriano said that the masonry around the pool,tying it all together, has beautiful, flowing lines and inlays that create the feeling of a musical note surrounding the pool. “The landscaping followed up as the last layer to create these flowing lines,” he said. “It is almost as though you were looking down on a table. There is the violin and there are flowers arranged around the violin. We planted beautiful boxwood hedges that opened up into bouquets. The centers were filled with annuals so that the client had constant color around the pool.”
The pool and spa area contains ample decking around and near the pool and an outdoor kitchen. The homeowner selected two dozen mature trees from Cipriano’s farm for the project. Some of the trees, delivered on a flatbed truck, were 30-feet wide by 30-feet high. A Japanese Lace-Lead Maple was nearly 40 feet wide.
The Glass Tile.
Cipriano made extensive use of glass tile to capture the feel of a real violin. Beginning at the top of the neck, dark glass tile was used to replicate the dark, rich wood of a violin neck. At the very top of the neck, the designers created swim-outs to replicate the pegs of a violin…all carefully placed to match violin specs.
To create the “crown” look and feel on the main section of the violin, Cipriano used a gradient of glass tile ranging from reds to browns.“Normally,” he said, “a gradient blend of tile can only go in one direction on a pool. Working from the center line, you can go north, south, east or west in the pool. We wanted to transition going all around the pool. We mapped out every sheet of tile in the gradient colors.”
As any practitioner knows, the challenge of glass tile, even in a standard installation, is that there are color variations in the same box.They must be blended together. For this pool, there were 15 boxes of glass tile that needed to be blended.
“We had one person work two months blending tile,” said the pool builder. “His job was to go through and pick out any of the colors that did not blend properly and replace them with the right colors.” The pool was planned for fiber optic lights, so the tiling of the center portion of the pool—the portion where the “strings” of the violin were--was left to last. “
The Spa.
The spa is the chin rest of the violin. There is a perimeter overflow into the pool from the spa, which is six inches above the coping.Cipriano used jet black glass tile in the 12-foot by seven-foot spa, which can hold 12 people and is 90 square feet. There is a bench going around the interior of the spa.
The Entry.
The entry is across from the spa. There is a custom radius around each step so that the tiles are separated. “We laid out the tiles and then repapered them. We wanted a pool user to look down into the pool by the steps and see the color transition through the steps.”
The “Bow.”
There are two fish ponds flanking the neck of the pool within the bow. There are acrylic windows in the pool so that when one is swimming up the neck, he or she can see the fish in the Koi ponds. In addition,there are fiber optic star lights on the bottom of the ponds to create a magical effect after dark.
The Lighting.
The pool contains LED and fiber optic lighting. As beautiful as the pool is in sunlight, at night it is positively breathtaking, according to Cipriano. There is colored LED lights in the pool and fiber optic lighting that goes under the coping. The fiber optic lights are notched into the coping so that they are not visible to a swimmer during the daylight hours. The“strings” of the violin are the lap lanes of the pool and are made of dark tile, but at night those strings are lighted with 5,760 fiber optic strands that are weaved into the four strings for a very dramatic effect.
There were numerous challenges in creating this project. One of the first was siting it. Although the builder/designer had five acres of land on which to work, impervious surface coverage restrictions, wetlands areas, setbacks and existing septic fields (which had to be moved) limited the project’s ultimate size and position. The project was built to within one percent of the impervious coverage limitations.
Soil testing revealed that there was significant organic material in the area where the pool was to be constructed. Gravel had to be trucked in and the sub base was compacted. Cipriano said that soil testing and soil preparation are critical on any pool job, but on this one it became even more important because two structures, the violin pool and the violin bow, were being tied in together.
In designing the violin pool, the builder made templates,Cipriano explained: “We created templates for everything on this pool. We had templates for the bond beam and we had templates for the floor. It all had to be exact. In glass tiling the pool, if we went down 40 tiles on one side, we had to go down 40 tiles on the other side. Everything was measured and exact all the way through. It was a true team effort.”
The steel required between three and four days to put in place and then the gunite took an additional three to four days to finish.Cipriano said that there was a lot of steel used on this project, especially in the area of tying in the pool and the koi ponds.
All decking and coping was Dolomitic limestone from Wisconsin that was cut and fit on site. A 2-foot x 2-foot pattern was used around the pool. There is a French pattern going up to the outdoor kitchen area.
Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey
Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey
Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey
Cipriano Custom Swimming Pools and Landscaping, Mahwah, New Jersey

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