Best In Show: Hudson Americas’ Éilan
Éilan is a luxury mixed-use development community located in San Antonio on Interstate 10 at La Cantera Parkway that combines residential, office and retail space with a luxury hotel.
Having set such high standards, Éilan (pronounced “Ã-lon”) made a solid investment in its curb appeal when the property was constructed in August 2012, says Ryan Baldwin, Assistant Vice President, Hudson Americas.
Critical among the decision making was to choose plant materials that were either fast growing or already mature at the time of install. “For example, in the piazza area where the retail core is, we installed already mature and well-aged live oaks that give the appearance that they had been on the property for many years,” Baldwin says.
That was part of the $3.387 million overall investment in landscaping, fountains, pavers and green roof systems in some locations.
“Considerable effort was placed in making plant and material selections that not only fit in with San Antonio, but also the Tuscan theme of the property.”
Baldwin says Hudson spends approximately $168,000 annually on landscaping contract maintenance and $25,000 each year for fountain work. The contractor has two full-time, onsite landscapers who work four days a week. Additionally, several irrigators, arborists and enhancement specialists are employed.
Baldwin says the biggest challenge is the effort to ensure that those plant materials can survive through various project and area conditions. The Promenade area, because of its design and location, tends be very windy. Plants need to be able to handle high winds most of the year and during the winter must be able to reseed or be hardy.
If and when any plant replacements must be made during the year due to condition, Baldwin considers several factors. First is water requirements (because all plant material used must survive on low to very low water requirements because of various water restrictions in place in San Antonio); second is evergreen/semi-evergreen status—the hardy root systems or reseeding potential. And third is seasonal interest, texture and fragrance; wildlife and deer resistance; and native or adapted plant material and non-invasive species.
The result is an area that receives many compliments, especially spring through fall. “The property is full of color because of the plant selections used in contrast to typical properties that primarily use non-blooming shrubs and grasses with key beds being available for seasonal color,” Baldwin says. “Because of the exquisite nature of plantings, our property is highly sought after as a backdrop for wedding, graduation and prom photos. On average, we have several hundred people per year that schedule photo shoots on the grounds of Éilan. We also are actively sought out to have weddings on the grounds, especially in the Rose Garden and in the Commons Garden.”
The Promenade is the primary pedestrian spine that connects all of the residential buildings and the hotel. The various gardens along the Promenade offer an ever-changing sensory experience with a variety of native and adapted plant material in exciting compositions of form, color and texture. Conceived as a signature feature of Éilan, the Dancing Fountain is prominently located in the Piazza, creating a striking image of the property and a grand entrance for residents and guests as they ascend the Grand Staircase.
The fountain is surrounded by a shallow pool and set over stone. The pool reflects the sky and the Dancing Fountain, creating an ever-changing and complex composition of light, shadow and reflection. The Dancing Fountain features several separate choreographed water events creating a dynamic kinetic installation that offers a wide variety of experiences throughout the day.
—Paul R. Bergeron III, NAA