If design and style get the job done is largely about fixing problems, excellent design is about solving them in such a way that you ignore what the authentic issues were in the initial area. 

Arguably it’s why stepping on to a Craig Reynolds-developed property — with all the environmentally friendly and the shade, all the flowing strains and the perception of privateness, and all the regionally correct hardscape — can give you a slight perception of amnesia. You don’t know why the location seems the way it does, but it functions. Genuinely, actually well.

“That’s what we industry – layout. We often talk about executing the finest style, no matter what, for just about every task we can arrive up with. It is range one each time,” Reynolds mentioned.

Reynolds moved to the Keys in 1998 with a masters diploma in landscape architecture from the College of Florida and a occupation doing work for the aptly named Raymond Jungles. 

“He was one particular of the 1st men to make residential [landscape] structure captivating, due to the fact it was all professional ahead of that – browsing malls and developments. Raymond was one particular of the 1st to begin wanting at it as an art sort,” explained Reynolds. “He showed you what could be carried out if you employ the service of a landscape architect.”

Pictures by Tamara Alvarez

Reynolds stayed with Jungles for 7 years, discovering the means of South Florida’s flora, contractors and shoppers, right before obtaining an business and hanging out his very own shingle. I was friends with him then. Heading out on your individual is generally a massive threat, and the initial six months seemed form of rocky (although Craig is not the variety of man to complain). But then some thing seemed to catch, and Craig Reynolds Landscape Architects has been flourishing at any time since.

Most of his function is in Key West and the Florida Keys, but he has completed sizeable projects on the Florida mainland, as nicely as in Louisiana, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Curaçao and St. Vincent. Purchasers have bundled Ralph Lauren and Pink Sox outfielder and selected hitter J.D. Martinez.

At the moment he functions out of a second-tale business on Duval Road with a ping pong desk for a convention table, a staff of two landscape architects and an business supervisor. Reynolds states they have about 25 jobs in the hopper at a time, all in various phases – either in design and style, allowing or beneath development. Jobs generally consider a year-and-a-fifty percent to two years from start out to end, although he says proper now he’s telling clientele it will be close to a calendar year just before he can even start a new venture.

He keeps waiting around for the work to gradual down, but it doesn’t. He claimed that in an typical year the workplace applied to get about 40 to 50 calls from probable shoppers, but with COVID restricting people’s travel, in 2021 they obtained above 180 inquiries.

Photos by Tamara Alvarez

“I would say we’ve had a fairly very good track history of conference the layout criteria that the homeowners want. I consider that is due to the fact at the beginning we pay attention to them. A great deal. We consider notes about what they want. We walk the site with them. I generally inform them to give me photos or concepts of nearly anything that appeals to them at all. And then we do the design and style.”

Reynolds has worked tricky to not have his routine subsumed with the vagaries and inevitable emergencies that occur with operating a small business. His layout time, if not sacred, is sacrosanct. He blocks out Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Wednesday afternoons when he can get away with it, to wrestle with vexing problems that occur with producing a new landscape. He spends hrs sketching points out on tracing paper, overlaying layouts and suggestions and concepts, making sure modernity and fluidity merge with purpose in as organic and natural a way as doable. He thinks about it when he’s riding his bike in the early-morning hrs, or reading in the bathtub just after perform, or traveling solo cross region in his solitary-engined Cirrus SR-22. 

“I have a issue I call simple/advanced/uncomplicated. You commence out with a uncomplicated strategy. You are like, ‘Oh yeah, I know specifically what I’m gonna do.’ And then as you begin coming up with, it results in being definitely intricate and intricate. You’re like, ‘Oh, what if I included this and additional that?’ And then you have to just action back, and you have to say, ‘OK, now I need to begin peeling aspects out of this for the reason that I just went overboard.’ Then I bring it again to simple yet again.”

Images by Tamara Alvarez

Element of that course of action is coming up with for the arc of time, realizing how plantings will look and perform straight away just after design, and how they will search and function in two decades, five a long time, 10 yrs. 

Visiting a approximately accomplished challenge on Sugarloaf Key, Reynolds pointed out the row of sabal palmettos lining the circular driveway, experienced trees chosen for their elegantly curving trunks that presented a feeling of privateness and permanence. The finished place less than the house, a vacation resort-like residing house, was planted with elements these as woman palms and Florida silver palms, trees that never demand considerably sunlight and will not increase considerably far more than they by now have. 

Reynolds reported they try out to use Keys natives, such as observed palmettos, as typically as probable, specifically in open up places, or places in the vicinity of the drinking water, due to the fact they can handle the sunlight and the salt of the environment. But he explained they also utilize a selection of Caribbean natives, also, this kind of as old-man palms from Cuba, mainly because they have to have quite minor by way of irrigation.

On the Sugarloaf house a set of stone stairs developed with small slabs of surprisingly grippy Miami oolite led from a modest seaside location down into the h2o. The beach labored as a informal counterpoint to all the forms and constructions of the house, but Reynolds pointed out that it also serves one more goal – the sand beneath functioned as a retention location to retailer and filter rainwater from the roof and other spots of the house.

“In the conclude we want a home to experience like it’s usually been there, like it is intended to be there, like it suits. Like it was not designed at all,” Reynolds stated.

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