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Custom-fit structure covers pool during renovation

Projects, Tents | September 1, 2009 | By:

Custom covering for a hotel pool renovation quietly appears overnight.

When the highly glamorized world of haute couture beckons, typical pool renovation techniques do not apply. Such was the case last April when EventStar Structures, Medley, Fla., was assigned the task of covering the pool at the Raleigh Hotel in Miami’s South Beach as it was undergoing renovations in preparation for a major fashion show. Just one week after the scheduled restoration, the prestigious boutique hotel’s pool was to host a Chanel swimwear fashion show presented by legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld.

While some pool renovations are completed without being covered, under these circumstances—with an eagerly anticipated swimwear fashion show only days away—an unsheltered pool was not a feasible option. It was vital, says EventStar’s Gerry Melendez, to have the pool completely covered, preventing sun, wind, rain and debris from interfering with the restoration.

Ultimately, EventStar had a successful project, a happy customer and an IFAI Outstanding Achievement Award to show for their extra effort under demanding circumstances.

Unique challenges

The project’s objective to provide shelter from the elements was no easy feat due to a number of challenges. Foremost was the shape, curvature and dimensions of the pool. It was also necessary to maneuver around several 40-foot palm trees bordering it, create an aesthetically pleasing look during the renovation and complete it all within a very small time frame.

An extensive site inspection to gather exact measurements was the first step for EventStar. With this information in hand, the turnkey provider of event equipment and services was faced with modifying an existing structure and customizing the fabric within a matter of days. The company’s in-house engineering and design team worked diligently to come up with a means to allow for complete coverage. The solution was a custom-fitted 86-foot by 100-foot structure connected to a 64-foot by 16-foot structure, which was also connected to a 52-foot by 16-foot structure. In total, the cover encompassed more than 10,800 square feet.

The connections making up the structure had to be seamless; even the slightest leakage could affect the integrity of the pool renovation. The rooftop panels were custom modified on-site to allow the palm trees to protrude while preventing any harmful elements from hindering the renovation process. This was achieved, says Melendez, by “heat sealing the fabric around the trees after setup.” Each tree was fitted with a tailored rain gutter that allowed water to reach the tree trunks and filter down to their massive planters.

Because of the pool’s shape, EventStar had to customize a structure that spanned the entire surface area of water and stayed within the confines of the property, allowing for access to the cabana and beach area in the back of the property. Standard industry size and shape, Melendez says, would not have allowed for total coverage or guest access to other areas.

Ferrari Textiles’ heaviest Precontraint 502, a 22-ounce blackout vinyl, was chosen. “It’s a really long-lasting PVC vinyl-type material,” he says. “There’s no draining, there’s no condensation and it blocks light from coming in.”

Keeping it quiet

From conception to completion, the project took just four days—three days spent customizing the structure and one overnight shift installing it, with a crew of 12 toiling from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. to complete it. The short time frame made for a complicated load-in and load-out, and since the hotel was open to the public and in high season, it was imperative to work very quietly at night so as not to disturb the guests.

“It’s like on a TV show when someone brings in a regular car and they want it customized. You know, they work all night and are frantic? That’s what it looked like over here,” Melendez says.

Furthermore, EventStar needed to manually lift and then lower the structure without damaging the pool itself. “The complete structure had to be assembled by hand since forklifts would not fit this area,” says Melendez. “All of it was hand carried onto the property and assembled without the assistance of heavy machinery.”

Melding form and function

The finished product, he says, “was aesthetically pleasing . . . with majestic palm trees protruding and, at the same time, completely functional for the pool renovation.” And the hotel was ready to host its high-profile fashion event. The covering was in place less than a week—a large project for such a short period of time—but it fulfilled an essential portion of the overall construction requirements.

The mix of form and function not only met the Raleigh Hotel’s specifications and aided in the revamping of their pool, but has also led to additional projects for EventStar. “The director of engineering for the property was very pleased and recommended us to other properties where they have need of our structures not only for events, but for construction projects and pool renovations,” says Melendez.

Chelan David is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Wash.

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