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07-21-20 | Feature

A Waterfront Luxury Landscape

Encore Boston Harbor Resort
by Lifescapes International

The Encore Boston Harbor Resort is a waterfront luxury hotel overlooking the Boston Harbor and skyline in Everett, Mass. Designed by Lifescapes International, the South Lawn Garden is a verdant grand "park" which can also accommodate large- and small-scale special events. The garden's character is defined by twelve majestic, 25-foot-tall blooming pear trees that are complemented by plentiful, evergreen thickets of spruce and magnolia trees.
One of the connecting walkways, united by a gazebo and surrounded by manicured parterre gardens, leads to and from the Harborwalk and grand lawn.
The lush interior garden atrium, anchored by four voluminous 20-foot-tall multi-trunk ficus trees, caresses the main event - the floral carousel at the center. Six thousand annual flowerpots fill the planters, along with a dynamic mix of green leaf foliage providing contrast to further enhance and complement the resplendent floral garden and carousel.
Shot from the southern portion of the walkway along the water's edge, the Harborwalk contains custom brick paving by The Belden Brick Company and is bordered on the inland side by formal hedge plantings along its entire length. The northern portion is lined with Scotch pines that lead on through the exit drive lane. Manhole and utility access covers were provided by WunderCovers. Photograph: Barbara Kraft
Along the Harborwalk, pedestrians are greeted by three 10-foot stainless steel Jaume Plensa sculptures on the inland side. Formal hedge plantings run along the Harborwalk's entire length, with this central portion emphasizing the colorful and fanciful parterre garden arrangement.
A LEED Platinum, 10,000-square-foot green roof adds visual interest for the harborside rooms and gym above. The oversized floral pattern, reminiscent of designer Roger Thomas' motif, are filled with thousands of vibrant and colorful flowers (that make up the "petals") framed by boxwood hedges and white pebble stone borders in a bed of natural turf. Photograph: Julian Tryba

"This project has elevated the bar. It's a game changer for the region, setting a new standard of quality and excellence. The gardens and open space, much like the interiors, are captivating, intended to offer a delightful escape for resort guests and local residents alike, and are what make Encore Boston Harbor truly iconic and special." - Matt Geiss, Principal, Senior Project Manager, Lifescapes International

The Encore Boston Harbor Resort in Everett, Mass. opened in June 2019 and includes 50,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor conference/event space, 21,000 square feet of seasonal outdoor space overlooking the Boston Harbor and skyline and a 6-acre park space. Landscape architecture firm Lifescapes International of Newport Beach, Calif. created an inviting and iconic landscape for this waterfront resort.

A lush oasis of colorful flowers and verdant beauty is seen upon arrival. The sinuous entry drive lined with majestic Scotch pines and stately serviceberry trees ascends to a welcoming porte cochere featuring David Harber's Torus, a 7-foot diameter polished stainless-steel convex sculpture set within a vibrant parterre garden. There is a significant rise in elevation up to the front door, which capitalizes on the riverfront views and further enhances the sense of arrival.

Once inside, four sculptural ficus trees from Southern California frame the centerpiece - a colorful floral carousel designed by Preston Bailey set in the luxuriant, seasonally inspired interior garden lobby. Six thousand annual color containers fill the surrounding planters and are changed out every 2-3 weeks to keep the entry experience fresh and welcoming to all who visit. A cascade of flowers caresses the curved escalators that take visitors from the first-floor lobby to the second-floor mezzanine, while the immense skylight above floods the space with natural light.

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The entry garden off of Broadway is meant to be experienced by pedestrians as a strolling park and connects directly to the Harborwalk as well as the east resort entry. The park-like garden setting, with lush planting and turf lawns, are intentionally designed to keep open views to the guest tower, the marquee and entryway signage. Twelve-foot-wide walkways are conveniently located for ease of access and to encourage visitors to come in and explore the property. Oak Plaza anchors the center of the garden with a 45-foot-tall majestic red oak, surrounded by multiple 25-foot-tall specimen scotch pines and lush weeping cherries. Spruce tree masses define the surrounding spaces here, with accents of dogwood, magnolia, serviceberry and Japanese maple sprinkled throughout for a cacophony of color as well as seasonal variation.

The 1/4 mile long Harborwalk, featuring an abundance of benches and viewing opportunities, lines the water's edge with direct connections to pedestrian trails, the boat dock, as well as the many resort garden spaces. An integrated bicycle transportation program with connected bike paths and easily accessible storage racks provided by Victor Stanley is also adjoined to the Harborwalk. The 17-foot-wide brick paver walkway exhibits bold patterning and is bordered on the inland side by formal hedge plantings along its entire length. The southern portion is lined with grand and colorful red maple trees and anchored by an elegant gazebo. Intentionally more open, the central portion emphasizes the colorful and fanciful parterre garden arrangements setting off the three Jaume Plensa 10-foot-tall bust sculptures in the center of the promenade experience.

Nestled within an elegant flower-lined formal garden, with direct connections to the Harborwalk and convention ballroom, the South Lawn boasts 27,000 square feet of functional lawn area capable of accommodating events of all sizes. A bouquet of mature evergreen and deciduous trees enclosing the space provide a rich backdrop intended to display brilliance in all seasons.

East of the garden lobby skylight, atop the podium roof, sits a unique 10,000-square-foot "green roof" garden. Only visible to guests inside the harborside hotel rooms and the resort gym above, this exclusive view garden features oversized flowers that appear as a random, wind-swept arrangement, reminiscent of designer Roger Thomas' motif. The flowers are outlined with box hedges and a white pebble stone border filled with over six thousand vibrant annual flowers and perennials which will be changed out and redesigned seasonally to relate to the other floral displays throughout the property.

Challenges
"We had to select plant material very carefully, because of the change of seasons, to ensure that the property is as colorful and majestic in winter as it is in summer."
-Roger Voettiner, Executive Senior Principal, Vice President of Design & Horticulture, Lifescapes International


The resort sits on a 33-acre site next to the Mystic River that housed chemical manufacturing facilities for the better part of 200 years, so existing soil and sub-grade conditions were less than ideal.  In 18 months, 840,000 tons of contaminated soil and 41,000 tons of contaminated sediment were removed. Extensive accommodations had to be made in the design and install of the grading and drainage to promote a healthy soil environment suitable for plant growth. Individual tree pit drainage directly connected to the site drainage system, over excavation of the tree pits, tree root ball anchoring, and install of over 15,000 cubic yards of fresh loam were all executed to ensure a thriving landscape well into the future.

The cold climate was also a concern but afforded the opportunity to use a wider variety of deciduous flowering trees for seasonal interest. However, it restricted the diversity of the evergreen palette, which is the foundation of all the resort company's landscapes. With very limited broadleaf evergreen options, which typically provide contrast in form and texture, the landscape architects had to rely considerably on size and color variation between conifer species to accomplish the evergreen lushness that resonates with familiar guests. To be sustainable, many of the trees needed to be acquired from areas of similar climate, such as the Northeast and Maryland. When procuring and installing the 1,000+ trees, and 105,000+ shrubs, great consideration had to be taken of the digging and install seasons and aligned with the aggressive construction schedule. An offsite storage nursery adjacent to the site was created to facilitate the extensive planting process, and eliminate the risks associated with a potentially long, cold New England winter.

"Signature" Plant Materials
"From the spectacular 45' oak you pass upon entering, to the masses of plantings that lead you up to the elevated porte cochere, the property conveys a sense of grandeur. The planting was designed to provide an elegance and sophistication without compromising the harbor views." -Roger Voettiner

The evergreens (scotch pines and spruce) are the signature trees that are carried throughout the site and form the foundation of the softscape design. They provide the year round 'green' interest throughout all four seasons. There is a signature 45-foot-tall red oak tree that anchors 'Oak Plaza' at the entry garden, as well as two signature horse chestnut trees. The green shadow magnolia and nellie stevens holly are smaller accent broadleaf evergreens that provide a nice textural contrast among the other evergreens. The serviceberry, weeping cherry, and red maples are the deciduous trees used more frequently throughout the site, with the paperbark maple, Japanese maple, dogwood, jane magnolia, thundercloud purple leaf plum, chanticleer pear, and aristocrat pear being the deciduous accent trees spotted more infrequently in small pockets around the site.

Filed Under: LANDSCAPE, DESIGN, RESORT, LEED

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