Split Personalities
It's like an old, familiar tune: When you've been working on major projects with the same group of people for more than a quarter century - always with common principles, shared experience and similar goals in mind - it's easy to pick up the instruments and start playing again without a moment's hesitation. That's exactly how it felt for us at Pinnacle Design Co. (La Quinta, Calif.) when we were called on to revamp key elements at The Vintage Club, a private, 36-hole golf facility in Indian Wells, Calif. We did our first work there in 1994 and have been involved in numerous landscape and waterfeature enhancements since then with renowned course designer
2020/2.2, February 19 — Natural Persuasion, Working Wisdom, History’s Neighborhood and more
2020/1.2, January 22 — Small Considerations, Corporate Teamwork, Helical Sweep and more
Pools of Light
'If there's ever been such a thing as a match made in heaven, swimming pools and landscape lighting lay a strong claim to that perfection.'  That's how Mike Gambino opened his Currents column in November 2009. 'Separately, they take little-used spaces and transform them to all-day hubs of activity and sources of constant beauty.  Together, however, the magic
Digging Deep
When my client purchased a home at the top of a steep ravine, all she really knew was that she owned a lengthy stretch of a streambed and the land rising above it on both sides. At some point after she moved in, she decided to beautify the space, had a load of 200 boulders dumped in the driveway and hired her landscaper to move them down to dress up the waterway, which was dry through most of the year and was overgrown with all sorts of unwelcome plants. What she didn't know was that she was fooling around with Kenter Creek, a federally protected Blue Line waterway that started high in the hills a couple miles away. She had figured, reasonably so, that the stream was
In Service of Trees
'All of us at one time or another run up against trees that are very much in the way - and our clients simply won't let us remove them.  To be sure, working around such prized specimens can be a real pain,' wrote Bruce Zaretsky in his January 2009 On the Level column, 'which is why so many in the construction trades have passive-aggressive attitudes about them and just wish
Dressed for Success
A glance at our portfolio of dozens of golf-course projects dating back to 1990 shows that no two of them are exactly alike - despite the fact that our mission in each case has been exactly the same: It's our goal with every project to leave behind grassy patches that have seemingly been draped across natural terrain that has been there, untouched and untrammeled, since time immemorial. In other words, we've crafted elevation changes, watercourses, plantings and other defining features so carefully that it seems like folks who enjoy chasing little white, dimpled
Moving a Mountain
We've participated in the construction of lots of great golf courses through the years, but this one was something special. It started for us at Pinnacle Design (Palm Desert, Calif.) with a call from one of the world's top golf-course architects, Ted Robinson, Jr., who let us know that we had to rush to prepare a presentation for a client in South Korea. As he explained the situation, if we couldn't win over the chairman of the conglomerate that was building the 27-hole course, the job would go to
Critical Distance
I love it when a project teaches me a lesson about my design process.  In this case, it was just a smallish insight - but it had a profound effect on the outcome just the same. I'd seen this property for the first time while the home was under construction.  It was a large building, about three-quarters complete, that occupied most of a fairly large parcel.  The clients were happy to show me around, let me figure things out and come
Urban Renewal
What we have here is essentially three stories rolled into one. Partly, it's about what happens when a well-established company steps beyond its comfort zone with a major renovation project that involves an unusually large set of unknowns.  It's also about what can happen to a property when an old, large, man-made pond system breaks down, time passes and the space reverts to a wild, natural state.  And it's about what's involved in pulling a failed