Eric Roth

The landscape architect explains that listening well is always the first step in a sensitive, well-informed landscape design approach. He says there is a certain aptitude required to truly hearing how each client wants to live in a space, which ultimately is a reflection of how each client sees themselves in the world. Many homeowners look for their living spaces to make a statement; to be eye-catching, bold, or perhaps to reflect a desire for status or success. In this case, Lombardi’s clients looked to create a subtle, low-key retreat. “It is their statement,” he says, but in this case a refreshingly quiet one.

Eric Roth

The first major challenge, as is the case in many waterfront renovations, was to address the ecological sensitivity of terrain. Not only is the land a valuable coastal habitat, explains Lombardi, but it is also in a potential seasonal floodplain zone. “Both of these considerations required a well-thought solution that meshed our client’s desires with the specific constraints posed by the site,” says Lombardi, who has a masters degree in landscape architecture from Harvard.

Eric Roth

This meant working within wetland and waterways restrictions to protect the environment and create a flexible “base plan,” allowing for inevitable adjustments that need to be made. “It’s always a much longer, much more involved process,” than people typically think, Lombardi notes.

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Andrea E. McHugh, a former editor at Newport Life magazine, is a freelance writer living in Rhode Island.

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