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2012 Award of Excellence - Boca Grande Residence
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Project Category:  Residential

Project Name:  Boca Grande Residence

Project Location:  Boca Grande, FL

Date of Completion:  2011

Landscape Architect: DWY Landscape Architects - David W. Young, ASLA


Owner: Private

 Landscape Contractor: Vision Horticulture, Inc.

Located on a narrow strip of land between the Gulf of Mexico and an inter-coastal freshwater lagoon, the Boca Grande Residence serves as a family gathering spot and seasonal escape for its Midwestern entrepreneurial owners.  As such, the house was designed as two distinct pavilions separated by an amenity level where the family could gather.  The elevated terrace level also provides stunning views over the dune vegetation to the crystal waters and magnificent sunsets of the Gulf of Mexico beyond.

The project required a seamless connection from the lagoon across the private road to the beachfront residence. Programmatically, the owner’s requested multiple seating areas with entertaining space, lap pool and hot tub, a fountain, grill area, beach and lagoon access, storage for sculling boats, beach shower, pergola and outdoor restroom.  The goal was not only to satisfy the program requirements with a landscape expression perceived as an extension of the architecture and site but, moreover, to do so in a dramatic and memorable way.

The challenge was to provide spaces that catered to the various program requirements on a narrow site, where each home is built to their respective side-yard setbacks. Additional site restraints included a high water table and direct beachfront exposure with no buffer from the driving wind and salt spray, making every material selection critical.

The limited site is designed and controlled with a series of manipulations to blur the north and south boundaries, providing separation between the large homes, while accentuating the vast east and west vistas from lagoon to gulf yielding dramatic spaces with a powerful sense of place. The man-made forms of the architecture and natural features found within the surrounding landscape inspire the texture and articulation of the materials.

The natural Callida limestone used in the motor court was quarried locally, cut to specification and installed with ribbons of zoysia grass to provide an organic expression of the homes open board fenestration while each vertical column is carefully articulated by a linear band of grass of equal proportion. This project represents the first time the cut cap rock boulders had been used in this way.

Other features include an 8’x8’ greenwall of epiphytic ferns with ipe frame and a grid of tillandsia species on stainless steel cable at the spiral stair. Each was conceived as a composition – elevating the relationship between the built and natural to an art form. The boardwalk leading beneath the house offers perhaps the greatest surprise.  Through acrylic windows in the bottom of the lap pool, one is treated to prisms of dancing daylight while views of the terrace activities above appear in watery distortion.      

The amenity level represents the heart of the project and offers a tropical Shangri-La like ambiance, especially in the morning and evening light. The multi-level terrace provides a variety of spaces including a slot edge lap pool, hot tub and fountain with pergola, grill, lounge, sleeping terrace and seating areas for memorable gatherings and quiet contemplation.  The tight relationship between the indoor and outdoor space is achieved through continuity of material, good circulation and direct visual connection.   

Equally important, though not as dramatic, are the unseen conservation components of the project. The age-old practice of water collection and recycling was conceived and developed in the form a 6,000-gallon cistern.  Due to the high water table and limited site the cistern was formulated as an interconnected network of eighteen-inch pipes placed just below the limestone motor court. The cistern collects water from each roof shed and terrace via gutter and downspout.

The water passes through a debris catcher at each downspout before it is allowed to pass into the cistern.  The recycled water is then used for irrigation, controlled by a Torro smart irrigation timer that makes automatic adjustments based on local weather forecasts. The collected water is sent on a loop – through the irrigation system to the terrace level plantings and then back through the drain pipes at the bottom of the planter to the cistern below – recycling the precious resource several times before it is lost to evaporation.


Architect: Thomas & Dinzinger - Jim Thomas, AIA

 Landscape Contractor: Vision Horticulture - Damon Goulet

 Cistern Collection: Raindrops Cisterns, Inc. - Jack Burden

 Photography: The Greg Wilson Group - Greg Wilson

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