Harborside is a reclaimed and rehabilitated two-acre scenic waterfront residence overlooking a tranquil bay that is located within the watershed of the Peconic Estuary system, an ecologically sensitive area of the Long Island Sound that was designated an “Estuary of National Significance” by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1993. The design team’s primary objective was to conserve, enhance, and celebrate the unique integrity of this rich coastal habitat while complementing the contemporary seaside architectural vernacular and fulfilling the Client’s programmatic desires.
A short walk around the property revealed striking imbalances. The front yard was overrun by a neglected meadow entangled with brambles and Vitis. On the bayside, the existing dune exhibited post-Hurricane Sandy erosion where colonies of invasive Phragmites had taken root. Restoring balance and revitalizing this biologically significant tidal wetland while also emphasizing visual and physical connections to the embayment for the Client’s year-round enjoyment became the project’s paramount goal.
Creating a viable landscape that would not pose additional threat to the bay’s water quality was achieved through 100% stormwater capture and complete reduction of non-point source pollution. A total of 11,000 square-feet of permeable paving was installed at the driveway, parking court, walkways, and terraces to capture and divert rainwater to the surficial aquifer below. The entry courtyard, composed of sandstone pavers set in alternating dark and light gravel bands interplanted with native grasses, functions as a rain garden capturing roof run-off. A Ha-Ha wall surrounding the pool serves as the first line of defense against pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria and microbes leaching downhill. In addition, the pool is equipped with saline filtration technology, effectively eliminating the need for standard pool chemicals that can contaminate groundwater.
Restoration of the 4,000 square-foot dune served as a secondary pollutant filter and also established habitat. The invasive Spartina were removed prior to new plantings of Panicum, Schizachyrium, and Andropgon grasses. Asclepias and Rudbeckia were also planted as a food source for birds and pollinators. Monocultures of lawn were kept minimal and a meadow comprised of sixteen native species was established surrounding the home, covering almost 70% of the site.
Piping Plovers and Egrets can now be seen feeding and nesting along the shoreline – a reminder that a whole cannot function properly if a part is out of balance.