Learn what it took to create an 8-acre private island paradise
As Privé nears completion, we’re reconnecting with the creative team to learn more about what it took to bring this project to life. One of the most important dimensions to this groundbreaking development is its landscape architecture. Bill Eager is the founder of EGS2 Corporation and works hand-in-hand with Sieger Suarez, the architects who designed the twin towers of Privé. Eager is an expert in land planning, hardscape, water features, planting, lighting, grading and irrigation design, and he talked with us about creating an 8-acre paradise on South Florida’s last private island.
1. At what stage is the landscaping currently?
The landscape is currently being installed. The planters on the upper level arrival and pool deck have been filled with soil and all the large trees have been installed. Installation has also started at ground level, beginning on the north end of the island and working south, down both sides. As landscape lighting and irrigation are installed, shrubs and groundcovers won’t be far behind.
2. How would you characterize the overall look/feel of your vision for the island?
The landscape has been designed to enhance the architecture and to frame the island’s expansive views. On the arrival/pool deck level, plantings are located within raised beds and recessed planters flush to the deck surface—all sitting over a two-level parking garage. The vison for these decks was to reinforce the geometry of the buildings through the design of the planters and their contents. Symmetrical arrangements of trees and shrubs echo the design of the two residential towers. At ground level, two designs emerged. On the east, the plantings reflect the symmetry of the architecture. On the west, much of the perimeter is ringed by mangroves, so the plantings appear very natural.
3. Can you walk us through some of the more distinctive ‘moments’ within the landscape?
There are many. One that stands out is the approach as you climb the entry ramp to the arrival deck, and make your last turn heading north. In front of you, the roadway gently curves and you see the north tower in the background. On the left are views through the glass rail to the west; on your right, you see the south tower’s porte-cochère water feature and a line of Bismarckia palms along the west edge of the pool deck. Another would be the monumental stairs symmetrically located where each building flanks the south pool. They’re very special.
4. What is the vision for the Island at night, and how is it achieved?
The landscape and pedestrian lighting is subdued, while providing safety and illuminating major plantings. The intent was to allow the lights of Sunny Isles Beach and mainland Aventura to gently shine across the water, providing for spectacular night views.
5. What is your personal favorite view from the island?
I have two favorite views from the island, and they both occur at the same spot—right between the north and south pools. Looking east, you see the long dimension of the south pool framed by the ends of our two towers, which creates a ‘window’ that draws your eye down the length of the pool to the bay, with Sunny Isles Beach and the ocean beyond. Turning 180 degrees to the west, you can enjoy a panoramic view of mainland Aventura, with the north pool sitting parallel in the foreground. The east view is like watching a tennis match from the end of the court—everything is laid out in front of you. To the west, it’s like sitting center court. You need to rotate to see all the action.
6. Tell us about the mangroves, how are those integrated into the experience?
Mangroves are native plants critical to shoreline stabilization, while providing habitats for birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates. Their lush, green foliage and interesting trunk structure make a great backdrop for the other plantings, which were selected for contrasting textures and colors that will provide different layers to the foreground.
7. What percentage of native plants have you used on Privé?
We are planting 468 trees from 22 species throughout the island. More than three-quarters of those are native species. We’re also putting in over 14,000 shrubs and groundcovers from 36 species; about 34% of those are native to Florida.
8. Have you incorporated any ‘green’ features into the landscaping, i.e. drought-resistant plants?
In addition to the native plantings, all of the remaining trees and more than half of the shrubs and groundcovers were selected for their low water consumption. Additionally, the irrigation system was designed with the latest low-water technologies, which include low-flow heads at ground level, moisture and rain sensors, and drip systems in the arrival and pool deck planters. Also called ‘leaky pipe,’ the drip system is located below the mulch where water leaks out of the pipe so it’s delivered directly to the roots, as opposed to being thrown into the air.
9. What is the biggest challenge you face with the Privé project?
The biggest challenge was to maintain the incredible views in every direction. Zoning codes require a certain number of trees to be planted per acre. Additionally, there are requirements for a minimum number of shrubs and native plantings, and a maximum quantity of sod. On a landlocked site, there is no problem looking out and seeing a wall of vegetation. On an island, the opposite is true. This doesn’t always mean unobstructed, but rather carefully enhanced and framed views.
10. As an island, how do wind and salt impact your plant and tree selection?
The climate on the island was probably the single most important factor in the planting design. Plants were selected for their ability to either withstand the wind and salt spray, and/or the build-up of salt in the soil. On most oceanfront or bay sites, there is one major exposure—typically the rear—that bears the brunt of the weather. At Privé, the weather comes from every direction, so that had to be taken into consideration.
Both towers of Privé will be delivered in fall 2017. Remaining residences start at $2.2 million.
About Privé at Island Estates
Privé® is located on an eight-acre private island set between Williams Island and Sunny Isles Beach. The twin iconic 16-story towers designed by renowned architects Sieger Suarez, will be comprised of a total of 160 ultra-luxury residences ranging in size from 2,585 square feet to more than 9,500 square feet for select penthouse units– the pinnacle of Miami luxury real estate.
Every Privé residence will feature private elevator entry, flow-through floor plans with 10-foot glass on both eastern and western exposures, full 10-foot-deep balconies, expansive east/west water views throughout, European kitchens and bathrooms, as well as outdoor summer kitchens. First-class, resort-style amenities and services include a 10,000-square-foot gym and spa in each tower, private dining and social rooms, poolside café, wine and cigar rooms, kids’ rooms, tennis court, two pools and Jacuzzis, marina, private pier, jogging path, 24-hour gated entry and roving security, and full-time concierge.