Project Information

Goodwin Residence
Arroyo Grande, CA

Product: AB Stones

Size:1,000 ft2 (93 m2)

Wall Builder:
CML Construction
Arroyo Grande, CA

Wall Designer:
JK Engineering
Paso Robles, CA

Allan Block Manufacturer:
Air Vol Block, Inc.,
San Luis Obispo

Terraced Wall Converted into Entertainment Hub

Three terraced Wall

In 2011, the Goodwin’s set out to make major changes to the landscape of their backyard. Their residence, located in Arroyo Grande, CA had constant erosion of soils towards their home coming from a slope in their backyard. To handle this problematic slope, they looked to Allan Block as the solution for this issue. An Allan Block Europa wall was previously installed years ago in their front yard by CML Construction, and was able to turn it into a functional space while adding a unique aesthetic to the landscape. Having seen the AB Europa wall perform flawlessly for years, they knew they could trust Allan Block to take on another major project. Three - 3 ft (1 m) terraced walls were constructed in the Goodwin’s backyard, transforming the troublesome slope into a valuable area of land that could now function as something more. The terraced walls were built using AB Stones, and like the AB Europa wall in their front yard, they performed exceptionally and created a modern look to their backyard. However, in 2018, the Goodwin’s once again sought out another upgrade, but this time, they wanted to create an entertainment area of their dreams. Again, it was now made possible with an Allan Block Wall.

3D Design of Space


It was envisioned that the backyard could be used as a versatile entertainment space, and therefore a Landscape Architect (LA) was involved from the beginning to aid in the planning process. The Goodwin’s wanted to have a BBQ structure, tiki hut, pool, sauna, fire pit, and flat work done. They also envisioned an entertainment area that included stair access, along with a bridge extending from the house’s deck. After the concept plan was complete, the LA was able to provide a virtual walk-through for the Goodwin’s using the 3D modeling program SketchUp. Their first thought was then to reach out to Erik Geil with Air Vol Block, Inc. and Chuck McHale with CML Construction to make their vision possible.


Design Drawing BBQ

Finished BBQ

Finished Entertaining Area

Goodwin Steps

After a concept was put together, the design phase began. It was quickly recognized that adding in the BBQ structure, along with the tiki hut, pool, and flat work, would be a challenge to make work. To accommodate the BBQ structure that was to be located above the wall, a footing design was required. The layout of the terraced walls led to an expensive footing design to support the BBQ structure, so CML Construction proposed that the 3 existing AB Stone terraced walls be replaced with 1 taller Allan Block wall. Moving the wall 8 ft (2.4 m) would add an additional 600 sq. ft (55.7 sq. m) to the patio area, and would allow room for all the features the Goodwin’s could dream of. Thanks to the quality AB Stone product Air Vol Block produces, all the original blocks were still in great condition and were planned to be used for the new wall. This led to the cost of redesigning and moving the wall being the same as the cost to install the concrete footing for the BBQ above the original walls. The terraces being replaced with a single wall with a height of 11.6 ft (3.5 m) meant they needed an engineer to step in and aid with a design.

John Butler with JB Draft and JK Engineering was contracted to design the Allan Block retaining wall because of his familiarity with SRW design and great relationship with CML. Engineers like John that take full advantage of the powerful features AB Walls 3D+Terraces has to offer, are able to save valuable time by quickening the design process. John used the software for the basis of the wall design, and exported specific cross-sections into AutoCAD for further design of the custom BBQ structure located above the Allan Block wall. To minimize any potential differential settlement, special care was taken for the foundation of the BBQ structure with additional compaction requirements and lengthening of grid layers beneath it. The wall design consisted of 2 course spacing, with the top two layers extended to 9 ft (2.7 m) to help support the foundation for the BBQ structure.


The transformation of the backyard started by deconstructing the three terraced walls. The existing AB Stones were set aside and when the construction of the single wall began, they were seamlessly integrated and only an additional 600 AB Stones were ordered to complete it. After the wall was finished, the construction of the BBQ structure, tiki hut, pool, sauna, and flat work could be completed, too. The foundation for the BBQ structure was poured on top of the 9 ft (2.7 m) grid layers and an additional course of AB Stones was installed at the top.

The construction process took a year to complete, and the entire project was a collaborative effort between all parties from start to finish. When AB Certified Contractors like CML Construction, and engineers like John Butler who have experience using AB Walls 3D+Terraces come together, it results in a finished project with a high degree of detail and quality. The Goodwin’s are astounded with the versality of using Allan Block, and how their terraced walls—originally resolving a problematic erosion—issue easily transitioned to one tall wall supporting all the features they could imagine for a truly remarkable entertainment area.