Outdoor project at Presqu’ile Winery earns prize for commercial design

Staff Report

Arcadia Studio, celebrating 20 years of landscape architecture excellence, collected three prizes at the Southern California ASLA’s Quality of Life Design Awards ceremony on Sept. 30, winning the top honor in both the residential and commercial categories and a merit award for historic renovation.

One of the awards was for the Arcadia’s work at the Presqu’ile Winery in the Santa Maria Valley, which earned the studio the Honor Award for Commercial Design.

Laurie Roman and Puck Erickson (Los Olivos), both principal landscape architects, designed the 200-acre site. Following Hurricane Katrina and the loss of a beloved homestead, a Louisiana family pursued their dream of operating a world class winery.

The site serves as a working winery, event and tasting destination as well as a private residence. The public and private spaces at Presqu’ile were designed to be filled with an ever-changing variety of food and sound; local musicians and world class touring bands have all been welcome.

An amphitheater, formed into the hillside with board form concrete walls and lawn terraces, welcomes visitors throughout the year and children quickly recognize the space as a place to test their agility. Play, whether adult play like bocce, or free exploration on trails to the organic garden, is always welcome at Presqu’ile.

“We are honored to accept this award in memory of Laurie Romano, a firm partner, who passed away one year ago,” the firm said.

The firm also won the Honor Award for Residential Design for its work on The Monastery, a private residence in Montecito overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Derrik Eichelberger, Arcadia Studio’s president, designed the landscape for the home, planted with majestic trees and exotic plants but wild at the edges, originally occupied by music conductor Leopold Stokowski.

For many years it was the hideaway for Stokowski and his lover Greta Garbo. Later, other celebrities made the house their private refuge. During the 1940s, Lockwood de Forest Jr. was engaged by Stokowski to create a garden at the lower portion of the site, which featured a simple oval lawn framed by a low hedge and anchored by six ancient Olive trees.

In 2004, plans began to replace the now ramshackle house with a modern residence designed of steel and glass. Eichelberger’s design embraces this aesthetic without diminishing the garden’s historic nature or rich landscape character. The resulting design knits the site together, embracing the existing landscape, and connecting the historic elements.

Arcadia Studio’s third prize, the Merit Award for Historic Renovation, was for its work at the Lotusland Japanese Garden in Montecito

Eichelberger and firm partner and principal landscape architect Kalie Grubb collaborated with Paul Comstock Landscape Architecture to breathe new life into the centerpiece of Gana Walska’s nonprofit botanic garden open to the public for tours and educational purposes.

Though popular, the Japanese garden suffered from severe maintenance deficiencies, such as a clay-bottom pond with outdated mechanical systems and a challenging layout that limited accessibility.

The re-design incorporated a new, accessible path system through the garden, a state-of-the-art koi pond, waterfall and stream, as well as a new Lotus viewing deck that Walska had imagined in the original design but never realized. A number of new Japanese-inspired elements were designed and constructed, including a pavilion, bridges, and a Torii gate.

Arcadia Studios is a landscape architecture firm with offices located in Santa Barbara and Los Olivos. For more information, go to arcadiastudio.com.