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2013 Award of Honor - Colonial Quarter
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Project Category: Preservation & Conservation

Project Name: Colonial Quarter

Project Location: St. Augustine, Florida 32084

Date of Completion: March 2013

Landscape Architect: Jeremy Marquis, RLA, LEED AP BD+C, Marquis Halback, Inc.


 Owner: Pat Croce & Company dba Colonial Quarter, LLC, Pat Croce, President, Cindy Stavely, Executive Director

 Landscape Contractor: Southern Horticulture

Located in downtown St. Augustine across from the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the Colonial Quarter reinvents the way visitors learn of the diverse and layered history of the Nation’s Oldest City. Within 2 acres of the historic core, 3 centuries of St. Augustine’s history is explored in 4 distinct, immersive quadrants.

Historically Significant Site + Today’s Challenges

Previously, the site was the "Colonial Spanish Quarter,” a 1960s living history museum originally built for the 400th Anniversary of St. Augustine. Based on extensive archaeological research, historic reconstructions of the First Spanish Period (1565-1763) and Second Spanish Period (1784-1821) buildings were meticulously restored. However, the museum had ceased to be relevant in recent years. On the eve of Florida’s 500th Anniversary and the 450th Commemoration of St. Augustine, the University of Florida and the City of St. Augustine embarked to refresh the museum for a new generation.

A New Vision: Historic Immersion in a Tourism District

Through a competitve bid process, the landscape architect led the design team for Pat Croce in successfully capturing the imagination of the University of Florida’s distinguished panel of experts and academic leaders. This panel included the likes of historian Michael Gannon, PhD; archaeologist Kathleen Deagan, PhD; and noted historic preservation architect Herschel Shepard. Rather than telling of one day in 1740, as the Colonial Spanish Quarter had done, the design seeks to tell of the layers of history that makes Florida unique.

The property is now divided into four chronological, immersive quadrants. These quadrants explore (1) the founding of St. Augustine in the 16th century, (2) the development of the town as a fortified post in the 17th century, (3) the Spanish garrison town in the 18th century, and (4) the British period in St. Augustine during the American Revolution. To complete the loop and transition from the 18th century British back to the 16th century Spanish period, the "Flags over St. Augustine” boardwalk displays all 11 flags which have flown over the city.

In addition to the overall master plan, the landscape architect designed period-specific landscapes, fencing, lighting, site furniture, and interpretive signage for each quadrant. Lighting and sign posts become more detailed and precise as the centuries progress, reflective of advances in workmanship and tools. Landscapes help to tell the role of both native and introduced plant material for defensive, culinary, and medicinal uses. In one quadrant, saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and soft-tipped yucca (Yucca elephantipes) recreate the Rosario defensive line around the 17th century watchtower. In another, Datil pepper (Capsicum sinense Jacques) and garlic (Allium sativum) celebrate the Menorcan people group, many of whom have decendents in St. Augustine to this day.

Historic Preservation + Sustainability

Site disturbance was kept to a minimum through a variety of techniques, ranging from limiting container sizes to 20cm in depth (approved by the State of Florida Division of Historical Resources) to creating an above-ground "pale and stake” fence, which involved spliting logs in half to hide above-ground supports tied with posts every 8’. In the 16th century quadrant, located on National Park Service property, the team overcame a restriction of zero ground penetrations by building small berms for plant material, creating above-ground boardwalks and platforms, and above-ground ADA walkways.

The landscape architect, a LEED AP, led the team’s sustainability efforts. Even though the historic structures, complete with open windows, could never meet all LEED criteria, the team committed and implemented many sustainable guidelines. 100% recycled plastic Gravelpave mats are installed throughout the property, filled with locally sourced coquina shell, to provide appropriate accessible walks. Reclaimed wood from the Colonial Spanish Quarter is reutilized. Locally sourced cypress fencing from Gainesville creates the perimeter 7’ fencing, which completely hides vehicles along A1A and focuses the view on the Castillo de San Marcos in the distance.


Landscape Architect: Frederick Halback, FASLA, RLA, CLARB, Marquis Halback, Inc.

 Architect: Les Thomas, Les Thomas Architect, Inc.

 Contractor: Thomas McDonald, BTS Builders, Inc.

 Landscape Contractor: Jordan Whitmire, Southern Horticulture

 Archaeologist: Christine Newman, RPA, Archaeological Consultants, Inc.

 Property Owner: Ed Poppell, Vice President, Linda Dixon, AICP, Director of Operations and Administration, University of Florida Historic St. Augustine

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