From Idea to Action
Most successful designers have a bit of show business in them. Whether you play the sophisticated artiste or radiate a quiet competence, it's all about making a connection with a client who is asking you to participate in a significant project, whatever your personality or approach. I've always wondered how those at the extremes of the personal-style spectrum find work, but the fact of the matter is that all of us, designers and clients alike, are individuals who respond in different ways to different triggers - and I know for a fact that the way I work isn't for everyone simply based on the fact that we don't win every contract we pursue. For all that, however, we at Lorax Design Group (Overland Park, Kans.) have developed our own pattern and have found that it works for us often enough to
Preserving History
'Here in America, our idea of history goes back only so far,' wrote Stephanie Rose to open her May 2004 Natural Companions column.  'We don't have the "ancient" structures that still set the tone and architectural vocabulary the way they do in Europe, Asia and other places. 'For those who prefer modern or contemporary styles, this lack of history may
The Show Begins
Each custom design project is, of course, different from any other. The client may be a known quantity, but the site and the budget won't be and, as professionals, we always end up responding to unique sets of variables with eyes wide open. In the first part of this series, we looked at the disembodied details and components that made up one of these unique design packages. Starting with this part and continuing into the next, we'll examine at what was involved in assembling that particular set of features and, in this article, look specifically at how my collaboration with the client proceeded from initial contact to acceptance of a preliminary design. Obviously, what I'll describe here is
Hard-Won Beauty
As we were wrapping up a WaterShapes article called "Working at Water's Edge" back in the fall of 2018, it occurred to me that there was another story to be told about one of the projects highlighted in the text. In that article (click here), a pool I wrote about was set up on the edge of a large, manmade lake. I briefly noted that I'd been called to the site as a consultant after having seen the place several years earlier as a designer/builder who hadn't won the contract. In this article, I'll go back to my initial contacts with the client and tell a fuller story of a trying relationship that, slowly and with great difficulty,
Creating an Identity
Although my practice primarily encompasses residential landscapes, I occasionally tackle a commercial project. In one such case, I was recently asked to design the entry planting and make recommendations for the hardscape at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.  One of the most prestigious golf courses in the world, Riviera is the regular host to the Nissan Open, one of the sport's premier tournaments.   It's a high-profile site in every conceivable way, so image is everything to the facility's owner and managers.  After many years of placing what were essentially band-aids on the entry's landscape, they decided it was time for a complete overhaul and a
Comfortable Adjustments
Wonderful projects often proceed at their own paces.   More often than not, high-end clients on either the commercial or residential side will require us to spend a great deal of time and effort in developing, adjusting and revisiting designs so they wind up with exactly the watershapes and spaces that best suit their needs and desires. Sometimes that process is tremendously involved, as has been the case with a project I discussed in a previous "Aqua Culture" installment (May 2004, page 10).  The clients are creating what they're calling a "world-class pampering spa" as a major expansion of an existing facility in Jacksonville, Fla. Our work on the project includes a broad range of
Reaching for the Ultimate
The renovation project I've been discussing for the past couple of issues will be on hold for a few weeks as we await the arrival of a shipment of custom tile from Italy.  We'll pick up with that project once work resumes.  In the meantime, let's begin coverage of what would have been the next project for "Details" - discussions that will carry us through a good part of the year to come. Everything about this Pennsylvania watershape has been impressive, right from the start.  Simply put, it's one of the biggest and most elaborate projects I've ever tackled. As designed, the watershape will
From the Top
Let me introduce you to an exciting project I've been working on most of this year.  Right from the top, I'll say that even in the realm of the unique and rarified, this one is truly amazing.   The clients are quite well-to-do, and the moment you walk into their home, you can't help recognizing that they are accomplished art collectors with an eye for modern masters as well as folk art.  Their beachfront Malibu, Calif., home - one of
Competition Without Compromise
When it's completed sometime in mid-2002, the Mesa Indoor Aquatic Center will be among the premier U.S. facilities for competitive swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and synchronized diving.  Once it's up and running, MIAC will be the country's largest indoor competitive swimming facility owned and operated by a municipality; just as certainly, it will also act for years to come as host to countless world-class aquatic competitions.   A project like this
Who Needs Litigation?
Most watershapers and their businesses have been (or at some point will be) exposed to some form of litigation.  We do indeed live in a litigious society, and if you have yet to experience this sad reality at close hand, just wait a while:  It's the nature of the contracting business, and your turn almost certainly will come. Doing battle in a courtroom has often been described as the world's most expensive indoor sport, one about a half step away from hand-to-hand combat.  It's stressful, costly in time and money, incredibly distracting and generally no fun at all.  In my own experience, litigation is the ultimate in misery and frustration:  Even when you win, you walk away feeling like you've been through some kind of meat grinder. In an effort to stave off the costly, time-consuming, unpredictable and generally unsatisfying outcomes that all-too-often arise through the conventional judicial system, many companies have been turning in recent years to Alternative Dispute Resolution.  In fact, this trend has so much momentum and respect that Congress passed the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act and the President signed it into law in October 1998.  This legislation mandates that all federal courts must develop and implement ADR programs. I'm not always in support of things our government does, but in this case, I believe strongly that ADR programs and other mediation strategies can help all of us lift the