Set in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Lake George offers a stunning backdrop for any poolscape. Mike Giovanone, however, wasn’t building just any pool. Though the clients’ requests weren’t demanding — a center-line spa and deep-end waterfeature — the site itself offered a unique challenge.

“We had to demolition-hammer from inch one,” says Giovanone, owner of the building firm. “You’re not digging a pool; you’re literally carving it.” Adirondack granite brings a whole new meaning to the word “hardscape.” To effectively penetrate through the shelf, Giovanone’s crew had to bring in a 30-ton demolition hammer and spend the better part of a week just creating a hole in the ground. The pool shell had to be overdug by approximately 6 inches, then pre-coated with 4,000-psi pool mix.

The crew also faced an extreme slope into the lake, and had to move more than 1,500 tons of material in to accommodate it. They used what’s known in the Northeast as crusher run gravel to achieve a suitable level of soil compaction. This material also served as a sub-base for the decking, creating a buffer to absorb any seismic movements that could threaten the structure.

With help from Rich Fenwick, the company’s vice president of construction, and Forest Smith, vice president of operations, the team could finally start implementing the pool’s design.

Select surfaces

The homeowners were especially keen to integrate the project’s spa into the hardscape and make it a focal point in the backyard.

“The project was a specific call to be able to look out over [the lake],” Giovanone says. “They wanted the center-line spa so they could look out at the islands and the south [shoreline].”

However, the clients didn’t want too much stone around the vessel and asked that some of the spa’s acrylic shell be left uncovered. To achieve this, Giovanone created a two-tiered skirting to cover the bottom half of the spa. The bluestone fascia blends with the acrylic’s gray granite color, which provides an attractive contrast to the orange-peel finish at the spa’s base.

To blend together the band of coping and the patterned decking, which uses a base color and three antiquing accents, Giovanone used an in-house trick that he came upon by accident 10 years earlier.

“We got some sealer on a couple of stones and were going to replace [them], but the customers said they liked the shade,” he recalls. “So we did the whole deck [with sealer], and ever since then that’s what we’ve been doing.”

The satin sealer helps give the concrete and pavers a uniform sheen, tying together the two color blends. The sealer also prevents stains on the deck from suntan oil or soft drinks, Giovanone adds.

The effect is a spill-proof hardscape that ties in perfectly with the pool and landscaping, all of which was made possible by carving a backyard out of 10,000-psi granite.

For this reason, Giovanone des-cribes the pool as “one of the most challenging and gratifying projects we have created in our 35-year history.”

Mike Giovanone
Richard Fenwick
Forrest Smith