By Eric Herman
Back in June 2000, WaterShapes publisher Jim McCloskey and I traveled to Montecito, Calif., to have a look at a project being installed by our friend Mark Holden. Just the drive up the long private road from sea level to the top of the mountain clued us into the fact that this would truly be something special.
Within minutes, in fact, we knew that Cima del Mundo would yield fantastic copy and images for the magazine. The classically inspired design was to include a beautiful pool and spa, elegant stone fountains and gorgeous landscaping – along with period detailing so fine that it’s uncommon even for projects at the extreme high end.
In many ways, Holden’s work at Cima embodies exactly what we’ve always sought to explore in WaterShapes – water so expertly designed, engineered and constructed that it truly qualifies as a work of art.
In all, Holden has written three substantive features for us on the project, with the third and final article – a pictorial entitled “A Classic Crescendo” – appearing in this issue (click here). You might notice that this grand finale is expansive even for a publication known for running heavily illustrated articles. It seems appropriate: There’s so much to cover!
These beautiful images of Cima’s extraordinary watershapes and exterior spaces stand as a tribute to years of hard work and dedication to excellence. As Holden discussed in his previous two articles on the project (January 2001 and March 2002), the beauty that’s now so powerfully evident was made possible only by precise execution of a detailed design program underpinned by rigorous site surveying, soils testing and structural engineering.
It was also possible only through his ability to apply classic design elements in a modern setting as well as his dogged on-site supervision of every aspect of the job – from the construction of the elaborate retaining-wall systems and the structure beneath the swimming pool to the painstaking procurement of appropriate hardscape materials and the precise placement of plantings large and small throughout the property.
In other words, the work at Cima del Mundo is the result of passionate professionalism at each and every turn.
Holden is the first to admit that he was fortunate to land such an enormous project and to work with a client who was uncompromising in his insistence on sublime beauty. But such luck, as they say, is the residue of hard work and of the fact that Holden has sought to elevate his craft at every opportunity. Indeed, this is a perfect example of how education in design and engineering, coupled with great care in the real-world application of construction techniques and technology, are not simply lofty ideals that make interesting fodder for magazine articles and columns. Rather, they are tangible realities that transform careers – and spaces large and small.
Certainly, you don’t have to work on projects of this size and scope to walk on the high road toward excellence in watershaping, but you do have to work hard to make the marks of quality an indelible part of your business. When you follow the trails blazed by Holden and other leading-edge watershapers, the trophy projects are much more likely to follow.
While waiting for Cimas of your own, you watershapers who strive to improve your craft have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re giving the work every ounce of your skill and talent. That’s what “doing it right from the start” is all about – and is what has made following the progress of Cima del Mundo a rare delight.