Nancy Goslee Power comes from a long line of farmers and, in her own words, has "always been in the dirt."
It's also where she returned after a career as an interior designer and after studying art and the history of architecture at a finishing school in Florence, Italy, in the mid-1960s.
"When I was 10 I wrote in my baby book that I wanted to be a dancer, a naturalist, a designer and an army colonel, and if you think about what I do now it kind of adds up to those things," said the 66-year-old designer of the terraced gardens at the planned Montage Beverly Hills hotel.
Goslee Power, principal of Santa Monica-based Nancy Goslee Power & Associates, said her time in Florence as a student shaped her views on gardens and landscaping. Then while living in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, she became aware that gardens she saw locally were nothing near those in Europe.
"I felt there was a need for it," said Goslee Power, who started designing small terrace gardens in 1981. "It grew and grew." Because she has no formal training, Goslee Power prefers to be called a "landscape designer" and not a landscape architect.
She said her goal from the start was to expand her business in the private market by doing elaborate private gardens. She hoped that this business would give her necessary recognition to work in the public sector and it did. In the mid-1990s, she was chosen to design the gardens at the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena.
"I still continue to work for very special private clients, but I now choose them very carefully," said Goslee Power, adding that her private jobs start at roughly $750,000 a fee that includes a garden design, installation of trees and construction of a swimming pool, walls and fountains.
Goslee Power's work at the Montage includes designing the hotel's terraced gardens and space near the swimming pool and restaurants. Calabasas-based landscaping contractor ValleyCrest Cos. will be installing Goslee Power's creations.
She is most excited about her work at the adjacent public park, which at three-fourths of an acre will include three fountains, seating, native trees and "lots of shade." She's realistic about how the park may be used by visitors.
"It's an oasis," she said. "It's a place for people to be quiet and have something to eat and sit and contemplate and figure out how much they just spent shopping."
NANCY GOSLEE POWER
Nancy Goslee Power & Associates
Notable Projects: Gardens at Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena; gardens at Kidspace Children's Museum, Pasadena.
Favorite Hotels: Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy; and the Amandari boutique hotel in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Landscape Design: "You are giving back so much by planting trees. When you see people's faces when they experience the space and they are so happy; It is transforming work."
Montage Public Park: "I like that it's one of the first parks done in Beverly Hills in a long time and it's in the middle of the shopping district."
Montage Challenges: "I have a really, really hard time when someone uses the words 'value engineer.' The words pops up all the time, and I get really sad when they want to value engineer trees and nice places for people."
HKS Hill Glazier Studio
Notable Projects: Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kona, Hawaii; Montage Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach; Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Half Moon Bay.
Dream Project: "Something that is dissimilar in scale to what we do. Something that is smaller, like modular housing. Something that is small and could be repeatable."
Architecture: "I love to see the buildings as they begin to take shape. That is really the most satisfying part of the job seeing something you thought about or discussed with your client take physical form."
Montage: "It's not just a hotel, it's an urban space. It has all these different public uses. You've got pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic and a public parking garage. It was a great opportunity to blend all these unique requirements into one project."
Montage Challenges: "Something we don't typically run into is closing down streets and dealing with public utilities and all of the infrastructure we encountered that had to be dealt with to build the project. There was an alley that cut through the site and utilities that served the neighbors."
L.A.: "It's an extremely vibrant area and you have some of the most sophisticated travelers in the world. It's very cosmopolitan and very progressive."
Charles Pankow Builders Ltd.
Notable Projects: Sunset+Vine
apartment and retail complex, Hollywood; Westside Media Center office development, Los Angeles; Kapalua Bay Hotel & Villas, Lahaina, Hawaii.
Favorite Hotel: "The Montage Laguna Beach is probably the nicest place I've stayed."
Dream Project: "I'd be interested in doing a large high-rise project. A 40 or 50 story tower, maybe a luxury hotel tower."
Montage: "Everything is first-class. We are certainly not cutting any corners anywhere. The finishings are going to be fabulous. We are going to extraordinary lengths."
Montage Challenges: "It's a complex project with high-end finishes. We've got a great group of very strong subcontractors that are pulling together to make it happen, but with any project the schedule is always difficult."
L.A.: "We are fairly fortunate to be in one of the largest markets in the country and it gives you opportunities to do a wide variety of exciting projects."
Darrell Schmitt Design Associates Inc.
Notable Projects: Peninsula Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills; Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Coast; Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Kona, Hawaii.
Favorite Destination: "You could send me to Paris anytime."
Dream Project: "A hotel on the Amalfi Coast. Although in some ways working in Southern California is much like working on the Mediterranean."
Montage: "I would say it's the opposite of trendy. It was designed to reflect Beverly Hills glamour and history."
The Spa: "I think people are going to find the spa
surprisingly grounded in its place. Very particularly we had in mind 1920s
Hollywood. I think people will find it is colorful. There is a lot of intricate marble work and also beautiful
colored mosaic tiles."
Montage Challenges: "It is incredibly
challenging today to design artistic interiors around the many stumbling blocks of building codes and fire codes that go into complicated urban structures."
L.A.: "People are open to imagination. We tried bringing that to the project."
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