Thursday, 31 May 2012 16:41

HGTV -Million Dollar Rooms inground swimming pools from Platinum Poolcare Part VI Featured

For nearly six years, this was a project that occupied most of James Atlas' working life, challenging him and the staff at Platinum Poolcare Aquatech with pursuing development of a watershape complex marked by great ambition, shifting needs and innumerable revisions. Now that his work is complete and the site is finally ready for its close-ups, Atlas guides us through a masterpiece he justly sees as his firm's crowning achievement.

Opening AShell

By James Atlas

Roberts Lo 034Most of the time, residential construction projects that stretch beyond a half-decade in the making involve significant delays or work stoppages. The project pictured here known hereabouts as "The Shell Pool"– took nearly six years to complete, and what's unusual about it is that it was basically a continuous effort. Even when we weren't on site, seldom did a day go by when we weren't deeply involved on some level in design work, engineering and/or project planning.

Now that it's finished, I can say without hesitation that this was the most detailed, refined, all-consuming project we at Platinum Poolcare Aquatech of Wheeling, Ill., have ever tackled. I can't begin to calculate the collective number of hours spent in client and staff meetings, phone conversations, skull sessions and design-revision meetings – and that doesn't include time spent on site in bringing this amazing project to fruition.

Even compared to the many intricate commercial projects we've worked on through the years, this one set a new standard in my experience with respect both to the spirit of innovation and the mountains of patience required to get the job done. Today, with all that effort behind us, it's a rare pleasure to step back and get an overview of what we've accomplished – a pleasure I'd like to share with you here.

There and Back

When we first covered this project in WaterShapes' February 2008 issue ("Shell Games,"Page 56),we were nearing completion and had just a few details left to consider. Our intention had always been to come forward with this follow-up look at the finished project sooner, but an unusually cold spring was followed by an equally odd wet and chilly summer that made it tough to arrange for the finished photography you see here.

As you may recall, our client is the matriarch of a large family and lives on a sprawling 140-acre estate in one of Chicago's most exclusive suburbs. The parcel includes multiple homes, a lake,woodlands and horse trails – and now an extraordinarily elaborate pool house/ watershape complex.


The clamshell that opens over the swim channel between the indoor and outdoor pools has rightfully become the project's icon, but there's much more going on in this space, including the multipurpose watershapes, the custom railings and a tile mosaic made to depict the flowing form of a chiffon scarf draped across the steps and down into the elliptical pool.


By the time we became involved, the pool house design was mostly complete: It was to be a three-level affair (two stories above grade and one below) and would feature not only an indoor swimming pool, spa, kiddie pool and sauna, but also a full array of cooking, dining and entertainment amenities (including a theater with an orchestra pit).

We'd been brought in to tackle the elliptical indoor pool and the free-form outdoor pool and had no idea in the initial stages just how extensive and intricate our participation would become: It was like peeling an onion only to discover that each successive layer involved increasingly elaborate technical and aesthetic challenges and details.

Take the indoor pool as an example: It's a simple 18-by-40-foot ellipse, but it had to be built in phases to accommodate construction of the surrounding structure – including the painting of the vivid, starrynight fresco that looms overhead on the room's arched ceiling.


As if that weren't enough,the detailing of the indoor watershapes kept changing as we moved forward. We knew going in, for instance, that the client wanted an elaborate tile mosaic of some kind inside the pool. After some back and forth,she lit on a proposal from Nick Powell of Craig Bragdy Design (Denbigh,Wales) to reproduce the flowing drapery of a huge chiffon scarf across part of the pool's wall and floor. Her choice led us to make a host of tricky onsite adjustments to accommodate the mosaic and make the illusion work visually.

Roberts20036 Next, she let us know that she wanted to place a large clamshell structure at one end of the pool, under which she, her family and guests could access a channel connected to the outdoor pool. This object alone required many months of design, planning and fabrication and had to work structurally – no small feat given its 13-foot, cantilevered extent – as well as aesthetically: In short, if it didn't look convincingly like the top half of a truly giant clamshell,nobody (and especially not the client) would have been happy.

Roberts Lo 039Nick Powell's insight again proved invaluable. Not only did he help us define many of the key structural issues, but he also came up with a tile design that lined the shell's underside with a shimmering, opalescent, mother-of-pearl finish and crusted the top with a rough surface that captures the essence of a clam's outer texture and appearance.

Stay tuned for the final chapter in this series, where we tie everything together!

James Atlas

James Atlas, an 22-year veteran of the swimming pool industry, is the owner and co-principal of Platinum Poolcare Ltd., a residential swimming pool construction, renovation and maintenance company with service to several commercial aquatic properties including the Bulls, Bears and White Sox training facilities.

Platinum Poolcare Owner James Atlas came to the pool industry after three years of options trading after college, cashing in his chips to work with father Ronald Atlas, owner of Paragon Pools, a commercial pool construction and design company. An entrepreneur at heart, Atlas quickly started up an off–shoot company, Fountain Technologies, through which he designed and constructed water features for luxury residential and commercial properties.

When his brother took over that company, Atlas founded Pool Watch, a management company servicing recreational pools with lifeguard staffing, facility openings, closings and general maintenance. He sold Fountain Technologies and Pool Watch in 1994 and 1995.

Looking to broaden his skill set in the pool servicing industry, Atlas went back to his family pool business, working as a project estimator for multi-million-dollar waterparks, competition pools, high-rise pools, and other large-scale projects.

After a few years, Atlas began receiving consistent inquiries from residential property owners interested in pool construction and servicing. With his father’s blessing, Atlas took the reigns on those new accounts and formed a new company called Platinum Aquatech.

Again looking to go off on his own, Atlas teamed up with Terry Smith, owner of Poolcare Aquatech, another partner company with Ronald Atlas which focused on the service and maintenance. The two companies merged, with Terry and James owning a fifty-fifty share in 2007, effectively becoming Platinum Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd.

Company Background

Platinum Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd., founded in 2007, and resulting from a merger of Platinum Aquatech, Ltd. (luxury swimming pool construction) and Poolcare Aquatech, Ltd.(service, repairs, renovations of swimming pools and spas), specializes in all aspects of pool design, construction and renovation with added focus on specialty aquatic features such as waterfalls, lazy rivers, rock water applications, statuary and other luxury waterscape amenities. The company also provides installation and maintenance services for its customers.

Platinum Poolcare has raised the standards of excellence in residential and commercial pools, spa and waterscape design and construction. We have a combined half-century of experience in building, servicing, maintaining, and renovating award-winning and nationally-recognized gunite pools throughout the greater Chicago area and other Midwest states.

Based in Wheeling, Ill., the company’s headquarters spans 10,000 square-feet of warehouse and office space with 46 trucks, 130 employees during peak season, and one of the industry’s largest onsite replacement parts inventory for quick fixes.

Platinum Poolcare has repeatedly graced the cover of various industry magazines, and has earned hundreds of awards for its designs. The company belongs to the prestigious, invitation-only Aquatech Society for professional pool builders.

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