The 146-acre renewal center is dedicated to restoring balance in visitors’ lives by showing gratitude and learning from nature itself. The landscaping and outdoor structures had to be designed and built with sensitivity to this higher calling, while satisfying the practical demands of a public meeting place. This design company’s relationship with the Center grew organically over a series of projects that produced a serene, natural environment that feels as good as it looks and functions better than ever before.
The designers first concentrated on the entryway to the main building and neighboring sleeping quarters with natural stone walkways, patios and a hillside with a central water feature focus. The next goal was to address the hillside and the parking lot area for the entire complex. The main objective was to better direct arriving groups to the Lake House. The client’s first expression of gratitude was to the designers themselves.
The old parking lot was large, unmarked and oddly shaped so visitors never understood where to park. Guests now park between misty gray, tumbled border strips that ease frustration and improve capacity. The entry pergola serves as a prominent portal to direct them to the Lake House. An attractive, iron railing and new energy-efficient LED lighting improves safety along the hillside path and stairs.
The slumping 12-foot retaining wall that compromised the office building foundation was replaced. Cracked stucco walls were reinforced with spherical pins and refaced with new stucco, accented by two-toned stones that were individually selected and cut to accent key sections.
The landscape provides a rich visual experience from the time guests arrive, through their journey to the Lake House and beyond. Special paving, retaining walls, stairs, structures and plantings come together beautifully. Naturally-marked round-about parking, a stately pergola and stunning stairway details delight the eye. Plantings and landscape lighting both integrate and highlight individual design elements.
The designers were especially sensitive to how the hilltop office impacted the view from the lake. After removing mature spruces to replace the retaining wall, they spaded a 20-foot white pine and five, quick-growing, 18-ft quaking aspen to soften the elevation.
A split, circular pergola with wall seating creates a gateway to the lower pathways. New fieldstone enhances the stucco walls. Long blooming perennials and ornamental evergreens provide season-long color and texture. A meandering bluestone path from upper parking resembles lower paths installed earlier.
Copper gas lanterns illuminate each building and three basalt posts. Landscape lighting includes highlighting, path lights, strip lights and underwater lights in the water feature.
A local artist, who turns her own metal, spent six months creating the iron railings. She made and assembled each leaf and curled every section by hand. The pergola is a combination of curved steel beams and cedar posts that are secured to the stone base with continuous threaded rods. The designer hand picked each decorative stone for the stucco walls and chalked each profile on the concrete block for a perfect fit.
Obstacles Overcome, Innovation
Misty gray border strips were used in place of painted lines to designate parking spaces and tie into details in the patios. Because stone is a natural material, and the project evolved over many seasons, the contractor had to hand pick stones from multiple pallets to match the stones installed earlier on in the project. Reworking the drainage as the grade changed from one phase to the the next was a major undertaking.
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