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02-25-21 | Feature

Lake Front Property Given "Wow Factor"

Backyard Pool Overlooking Castaway Bay
by Patrick Cloonan, RLA, Cloonan Design Services Inc.

This backyard pool area overlooking Castaway Bay in the south west corner of Lake Erie in Cleveland was completely redesigned by Cloonan Design Services, Inc. The quarter acre bayside residence features an infinity edge pool, hot tub, and newly introduced synthetic palm trees.
The Landscape Architects modified the existing pool by adding tile coping, squared steps, a larger vanishing edge pit with steppingstones, a waterfall, and lighting.
The decking by the pool and throughout the bayside of the residence was created from limestone installed diagonally to offset the rectangular orientation of the overall patio.
The quarter acre property boasts a 40' x 140' bayside rear yard area and pool measuring 20' x 40' with an attached 8' x 8' square spa.
The team designed the pool and spa area to allow the resident owners and guests to walk around and interact with the vanishing edge waterfall.
Three barstools were placed in the corner of the pool next to the infinity edge, and adjacent to the refreshment center. You can also see the bar stools in the middle of the far left photo.
These three planters were strategically placed at the entrance of the backyard with a repetitive pattern that would draw the attention of guests and move them towards the center of the landscape and to the pool.
In creating the fire feature, the team started by taking the top extension of the I-Beams used to support the structures and incorporated them into the fire pit as a way to honor the homeowner for all the money and time that was spent to engineer and secure the project's foundation. According to Landscape Architect Patrick Cloonan "The leftover cut beams are below the sculpture as art--essentially screaming to all those that see it, as if to say, 'don't forget about us-this whole project is not falling into the lake because we are holding it up'." The excalibur sword was created using electro-polished marine-grade stainless steel and draws attention to the contents of the pit.
The western entrance leads to the pool area and from 'waterfall steps', as they are referred to by the Landscape Architect, which were included in the site to interact with the grade change between the house and the water. Artificial turf was added within the steps to have a contrast from the bright limestone tile, that was used throughout the pool area. Additionally, there is a gutter/irrigation system that runs underneath the turf.
This bench was made from Brazilian hardwood IPE decking as is the lower pool deck. The benches open up for storage and are positioned around the fire feature overlooking the bay. A raised masonry planter was installed behind the benches and filled with annual flowers anchored with a banana tree along the stairway. Speakers and landscape lighting were also added within the planter.

Background
The client, homeowner of this quarter-acre, lake front property overlooking Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, informed Patrick Cloonan, RLA, of the landscape architecture firm, Cloonan Design Services, Inc. that there was a 20' x 40' pool shell with an 8' x 8' hot tub already poured in the backyard, but he was not thrilled with the direction that the project was going and was looking for a splash of creativity in his backyard oasis.

"He was panicking because he had the shell of the pool that a contractor installed with a hot tub glued to the edge, but it lacked creativity," Cloonan said. "The client then said, 'I want the 'wow factor' that I see on your website and I want it to be in a magazine!'"

Cloonan, whose company will celebrate 30 years of business in 2021, more than delivered on that request. Set on a beautiful plot of land adjacent to Lake Erie, Cloonan and his team of talented contractors got to work.

Challenges
As a result of the project being an hour and a half away from the firm's office, the first hurdle Cloonan faced was integrating his team with some of the local team that had already been on site. He needed to make the decision to keep the team or let them go. Most of the team stayed and were happy to have some field leadership and direction.

In the spring of 2020, Cloonan had four fake palm trees shipped that were made out of fiberglass and steel and he strategically placed them around the property.

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However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the supplier who was supposed to assemble and install the palm trees was not able to make it to the job, so instead, Cloonan's team had to learn on the fly in order to get the trees installed before the reveal.

"That was new to our team, but they did a great job," Cloonan said.
Since this site used to be part of Lake Erie, the next obstacle was to secure a structural engineer in order to design a foundation for the new layout of patios, steps, deck and outdoor kitchen. In order to solve the issue of securing the development to virgin ground, Cloonan and his team needed to drive 47 additional I-Beams 25 feet into the ground and secure them to the yard by pouring a 24-inch concrete mat around them. Due to the lack of access to the rear yard, all of the work for the foundation was done from a barge that was brought in through the bay.

"This was not an easy project, between the complexity of the foundation and merging my team with the local team - it took a lot of leadership and patience," Cloonan said.

Once the pylons were all in place, the crew moved on to construct the patio and the redesign of the pool.

Pool
Cloonan addressed the design of the pool with the goal of transforming radial steps into rectilinear ones to keep the design consistent with the patio steps. He also added a bar with underwater barstools, but one of the main elements was outside of the pool in the vanishing edge pit. Cloonan demolished the existing pit and made it about 4 feet wider, extended it around the corner to connect to the hot tub and added steppingstone lighting and a water weir.
The client explicitly requested a 'wow factor' from Cloonan and that was delivered in the form of a one-of-a-kind fire pit sculpture next to the pool.

Fire Pit
The team had two, 3,000-pound blocks of Wisconsin limestone imported and craned in to serve as the barrier for the fire pit. Cloonan also took some of his team and went to a local quarry in Sandusky, Ohio to pick out some native unrefined boulders and juxtaposed them against the formed and honed limestone blocks. With the I-Beam in the center and the limestone surrounding it, it was time for Cloonan to bring in a sculptor to help bring the vision of the feature to fruition.

Matthew Albright, who has worked with Cloonan before, constructed a massive, 80-pound boulder out of welded metal to place in the center of the fire pit. Albright used 6,100 feet of welded wire, plus over 12,000 welds to create the Corten boulder and bring it to life. Sliced into the boulder at the pinnacle of the sculpture was the centerpiece of the entire yard. The client is the owner of a business called "Excalibur Autobody" and Cloonan and his team could not think of a better way to reflect that than to put the sword "Excalibur" in the center of the fire feature. Albright fashioned the sword using electro-polished marine-grade stainless steel in order to create this incredible centerpiece.

"We then fabricated custom fire jets to have fire come out of the boulder near the sword and the circle of fire throughout the stone enclosure," Cloonan said. "We have about a million BTU's of gas feeding this pit, so needless to say, it will keep you warm on the cool lakeside nights in Sandusky."

Once the sculpture was in place, Cloonan and his team continued work on the rest of the property, installing the limestone patio, landscaping, fence, irrigation, sound, and lighting.

Conclusion
Despite a change in pool construction companies midway through the build, Covid-19 and other challenges, Cloonan and his team delivered a truly one-of-a-kind backyard. The client got what they wanted and could not be more excited about their backyard oasis.

The bottom line, as Cloonan says, "Nothing great comes easy! We fought through the struggles and could not be more proud of the final outcome!"

As seen in LASN magazine, February 2021.

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