. . .  some  things  
as a  Student in Landscape Research
LAA 2710
R esort     L andscapes    of     EDSA
  I N T R O D U C T I O N

It is the Landscape Architect that can make a great project an even better project, turning a first class resort into a world class resort. It has only been recently for the Landscape Architect to receive recognition for his or her part in this transformation. Partially because of past economics and trends, since landscaping was always the last phase of construction, it was always the first to be cut back when construction costs would soar past estimated budgets.

The Landscape Architect's process on site transformation relies on many personal skills and teamwork from others. Their insight to creating a balance between land and its inhabitants is one that generates and can promote feelings of satisfaction, comfort, security, and pleasure. One such person, Edward D. Stone Jr., has this ability and along with his associates, have created a successful team that was won them numerous awards in all areas of Landscape Architecture.

Edward D. Stone, Jr. and Associates (EDSA) is one of the country's ten largest Landscape Architectural firms, founded in the year 1960, it has grown to 124 employees, with five offices in the United States and two in France (Evans 66). The firm's expertise relies in the areas of: Coastal planning, CAD, computer assisted analysis / planning, environmental analysis, golf course design, graphic design, institutional design, land use planning, master planning, parks & recreation, residential site design, resort planning, site planning, urban design, waterfront planning. (Evans 66).

EDSA's statements on principles, process, and commitment acknowledges and contributes to their success. Outlined in their company's presentation brochure they state: "We are, first of all, landscape architects. Our training, our profession, and our practice deal primarily with land use. Each application of land use and site planning principles varies widely, from the most sensitive natural environment to the most intensely developed urban setting" (Barrows 1). On their process, it "is resource based: a series of studies that carefully analyze the opportunities and constraints of each project provide the basis of each land plan or design solution. In the instance of the natural site, this analysis evolves from a series of natural factors such as vegetation, soils, and drainage. In an urban setting it develops from surrounding land use, accessibility and zoning factors" (Barrows 1). And their commitment "is to use broad interdisciplinary input to develop a plan which adapts the environment for the benefit of both man and nature" (Barrows 1).

EDSA also provides a wide range of Landscape Architectural services such as: land use programming; physical land use analysis: existing land use and zoning, soils, drainage, accessibility, topography, vegetation; land use feasibility; coast benefit analysis; detailed site development design: landscape grading and drainage, road alignment, site lighting, site furniture, site graphics, site and construction details and planting and design.

  P L A N N I N G  &  D E S I G N

Although the firm offers the previous services, sixty percent of their work resides in resort planning and design. Earlier resort projects in the Bahamas, Venezuela, and Mexico which enabled the firm, as Stone says "... taught us how people recreate and what the resort experience is" (Glass 19). One of EDSA's first recognitions for resort design came with the Hyatt Regency Maui project. The landscape construction is a commitment to the quality of the site, it enhances the site rather than detracting from it, for this, it has received numerous awards. The success of this property, recognized by Hyatt, is due to its landscaping.

Further development of EDSA's insight to resort design became clearer when EDSA was commissioned to landscape Babin Kuk, a 500 acre vacation village in Yugoslavia. The firm was teamed up with Stone's father, Edward Durell Stone Sr., a well known architect in New York. EDSA's participation consisted of master planning services, site landscape development, with on-site construction supervision. The initial site included four hillside hotels; a central pedestrian street bordered by shops and restaurants, a post office, and a bank; various recreational facilities. Stone comments that resort design has evolved from "what the resort experience is" to "what the resort experience should be - life to its fullest without the hassles - so we tried to get rid of the automobile and get back to a more utopian society" (Glass 19).

Babin Kuk became a 5,000 bed resort that was designed to blend around its beautifully landscaped settings. Some of which were restored because of devastation left by World War II, and others were only minutely altered to accommodate construction. The eroded landscape forms were features that had shaped the region's architecture, so the design teams utilized that process and also designed in response to them (Barclay 142). The site from architecture to landscape is symbiotic, Barclay writes "It is a lovely place with site and buildings enjoying an unusually close harmony; a harmony shared by owners and architects, by Americans and Yugoslavs, across a breach that has sometimes seemed unnaturally wide" (144).

An interesting aspect for the landscape architect is how each project and every site is different, presenting new challenges and inspiring creativity (Glass 21). Yet, somehow these projects will often be linked to previous projects. Similarly is that of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, another site that capitalizes on the large scale resort design of Babin Kuk. The Grand Cypress Resort is adjacent to Walt Disney World and Epcot Center in Orlando Florida. Occupying 920 acres it features an 18 story, 750 room hotel that is designed around a 21 acre lake and marina, and one of the world's largest free form swimming pools. The pool became a major wonder of the planning process for the hotel, EDSA calls it "adventurously designed," it incorporates three levels, 12 cascading waterfalls, a 45 foot waterslide, 3 jacuzzis, and a grotto bar all amongst a lush tropical lagoon setting (Glass 21).

Wrap Text around Image John W. Miller, Senior Vice-President of EDSA's Orlando office was in charge of the Grand Cypress Resort project. He states that "Grand Cypress was a very unusual project. It took only three years from start to finish and is extremely well done for a project of such complexity. [The owners] said they wanted to make it the best project in the industry. Everybody says that but these people [Dutch Institutional Holding Company of Atlanta] actually did it" (Glass 21)! "Grand Cypress, he insists, sings" (Glass 21). Miller also emphasizes: "We look at all our work as really taking what we call 'the dream' of the developer and being able to understand it, shape it and create it. We like to be responsible for staging the entire visual environment, or at least be able to guide it. Every little piece of a project shapes the character and the mood of the project and really needs to be thought through ... even down to soil and signage. Architecture should respond to the theme, geography or history of the immediate area. That is part of the whole package. If the project fails to respond to the need of the overall plan, it's just another monument" (Glass 21).

  E C O  -  R E S O R T S

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Responding to the site, is the main key for another project by EDSA. The ecological Carambola Beach Resort near St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands is a unique and extremely different project for the firm. Carambola was developed by CSX Corporation, formerly known as Rockresorts, the resort company founded by Laurence Rockefeller and known for environmental conscience (Sutro 49). The site plan here is centered on only 26 acres of the resort's 185 acres, thus protecting ridge tops and leaving the rest of the acreage open, including a sizeable vegetable garden for the resorts two restaurants.

Rockresorts horticulture director, Roy Thomas, says "The idea was that we would make the land work for us, not go in and change the land around" (Sutro 49). EDSA designed courtyards and pavilions to focus on a flowing landscape. Thomas, selected plants to emphasize color, fragrance and local tradition. Palm species form a nearby palm plantation planted throughout the site to help unify the landscape. A water reclamation system supplies most of the resorts water. Caught from the 26 red-roofed, six-plex cottages, water runs into gutters and into PVC pipes and is collected into three underground cisterns. The water is then pumped to a nearby treatment plant to be filtered and chlorinated. Sewage is treated and supplies enough graywater to irrigate the landscape.

Completed in 1988, the resort was destroyed a year later by hurricane Hugo causing $4 million in damage. Carambola was restored and reopened in 1990. Only to suffer lacking tourism as U.S. airlines cut off service to the Virgin Islands, thus closing again in June 1992. It did re-open under new ownership later that year.

EDSA has designed many other resorts throughout the world, one, in particular, is Las Hadras in Manzanillo, Mexico. Here the resort is being combined with a seven distinct developments. And still a similar project in South Carolina near Hilton Head is Haig Point, a resort and golfing community. This resort was planned to adapt to long range economic and market fluctuations throughout an anticipated 15 year building program (Haig 60). Other resort projects by EDSA have received awards from the American Resort and Residential Development Association: Marriott's Harbor Beach in Ft lauderdale Fl. and Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort; Florida Chapter of the ASLA: Award of Excellence for Rio Mar in Santurce Peurto Rico and Carlton House Inn of Orlando Florida.

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The remarkable process that EDSA has achieved with the resort design industry is one that all Landscape Architects can benefit from. That is to set standards, like ethics, these are what build integrity. EDSA has proven in the past to be able to adapt into the landscape professional business, providing services to clients on a wide range from the smallest of projects to the largest of urban and resort designs. This diversity is one that represents the willingness and sincere effort to stay in the Landscape Architectural business. Other attributes include staying on top of the latest in innovative design techniques as in the use of CAD. "The key to success for EDSA has been a clear set of objectives for incorporating the computer into practice as simply another way of meeting the firms overall goal of serving the client" (Clay 88). Equally important is to provide comfortable working environment for employees, and of course, EDSA has succeeded at that. EDSA has been named one of the "10 Great Places to Work in Florida" by Florida Trend Magazine. From more than 100 firms nominated, EDSA was selected on the basis of such factors as "financial stability; open communications; equity ownership, stock options; work place environment (Evans 61). Simply put, EDSA is a representation of how the best keeps getting better.


some things DeWinkler