By now you have heard about the Monarch Club—the Central Coast’s premiere, resort-style destination, located at the Monarch Dunes Golf Course on the stunning Nipomo Mesa. Back in 2006, Wallace Group Landscape Architects began the conceptual design work on the Club as part of a highly collaborative team of consultants. Project Manager, Bianca Koenig
has the inside scoop on what it took to bring this project to reality:
Super-Secret Irrigation System
Have you ever eaten at the fabulous Adelina’s Bistro
and had the sensation of sitting on the Golf Course? Great, we planned that! But in order to have the turf cozy up to the building, the wood framed windows and face prevailing winds, we had to get creative with the irrigation design. Hard-water stains and wood rot would be inevitable if overspray was allowed. To prevent this we designed an underground drip system to provide water directly to the root system, conserve water and maintain that seamless dining to golf experience.
Native Plants Rule
Folks have relocated from all over the nation to call the beautiful Central Coast home. As with any coastal area, this beauty comes with a challenging climate. Summers are naturally cool with the presence of fog, and then prevailing, coastal winds carry across the Mesa to bring blue skies. While the Mesa provides for stunning views overlooking the ocean, this elevation change and distance from the ocean also brings the risk of frost. Add to this the naturally sandy, high-alkaline, low-nutrient soils, and this area demands for tough plant material. Monarch Club’s secret to year-round beauty is choosing wisely. Native plants, including Ceanothus spp. (Mountain Lilac) and Arctostaphylos spp. (Manzanita) are the true stand-outs and year-round performers. If using these plants, make sure to position them in areas that receive excellent drainage and avoid drip irrigation to keep these drought-tolerant plants happy.
Did you know the Monarch Club and Trilogy Tour Center are built on an ancient ruin? Ok, not really, but those large stone walls that erode into the ground are a major design feature. Not only is the material consistently used on walls throughout the community but they were also used architecturally to visually connect the two facilities. If you stand on the north end of the Club building, you can follow the end of the stone wall, to the stone banding as it leads to the eroding stone wall of the Tour Center. As part of the apex of these two walls, you’ll find the first of our many art installations for the project.
Let There Be Art
Managing the design and installation of the sculpture and art program for the Monarch Club offered a number of exciting challenges, from materials sourcing to constructability and installation. Our previous department director had a natural talent for art and design, and provided the vision and sketches. The first “totem” at the Tour Center features an underwater theme, but once back at the Monarch Club site, it’s all about monarch butterflies. The Monarch Club features a reclaimed copper pipe just north of the main entry doors with butterflies plasma cut on the surface. Across the entry road, the 14’ tall triangular totem showcases the metamorphosis of a butterfly from larvae to full wing-span in polished bronze and rusted steel. We had a great team to bring these art pieces to the site. Jesse Wallace helped source the reclaimed pipe materials and fabricated each of the three pieces. His diligent work included hammering each of those bronze butterflies by hand to achieve the desired texture. Thanks Jesse, we are forever grateful! And Mike Smith over at Smith Structural Group
was an incredible asset. He provided the structural engineering consulting, including footing design and custom-engineered stress tests to verify the structural integrity of these one-of-a-kind sculptures.
It’s Not Just a Tennis Court
It’s a pool heater! The fenced tennis court, just north of the bocce court is embedded with water-filled tubes warmed by the sun. After the heat is absorbed through the concrete mass it circulates to the pool equipment and helps offset energy costs, to meet the strict California Energy Code for energy efficiency. These tennis courts truly are high-performing! Each tennis court surface was also custom engineered with post-tensioned reinforcement to ensure long-performing play durability. How about those colors? Ok tennis fans, can you guess the inspiration for the court colors on the main stadium court?
Specialty Concrete Paving
Passers-by may not know it but there are over ten different types of paving materials and colors for the exterior of the Monarch Club. Paving materials provided a wonderful opportunity to share the story of the Club in a creative way. Where the major architectural stone walls come to an end, cobble stone paving continues in the ground plane. At the fireplace of the covered courtyard, the patterning of a traditional Chumash basket becomes an extension of the hearth. At the main entry to the Club a giant butterfly wing highlights the arrival experience. One thing the specialty paving types have in common is the color of the material is determined by the color of the aggregates. Whether natural stone from the shores of Cambria or recycled glass in a rainbow of colors, the specialty paving could not be supplemented with powder or liquid coloring agents.
All Butterflies, All the Time
Even before the Monarch Club received its official name, we knew that monarch butterflies were going to be a dominant element for the site. Standing at the front door, you can look east towards the 19-acre Monarch Dunes Butterfly Habitat, or look down and beneath your feet is a monarch butterfly mosaic with a sixty-foot wingspan. The butterfly paving at the front door was an enjoyable collaboration with the interior designers where they mirrored our butterfly in the carpet pattern of the interior. For an even bigger butterfly, take the path from the Monarch Club along the East side of the Art Studio and cross the street to the Tour Center. Follow the path as it loops back south and past the entry to the model homes. Those abstract, golden, steel sculptures aren’t just a gateway, they also signify the antennae of a giant butterfly that spans from the Monarch Club to the Tour Center. Yes, if you were a butterfly flying overhead, those two meandering pathways outline the shape of the butterfly. How many other butterflies can you find hidden at the Monarch Club?
That’s a Fountain, Not a Kiddie Pool
Have you noticed that impressive fountain spouting at the main pool? If you look closely, you’ll notice the water lands in its own shallow pool, complete with the Trilogy butterfly logo. Due to California health codes, we can’t have waterfalls landing in swimming areas. And for safety reasons, there can never be decorative graphics at the bottom of pools. So in order to get these fancy features included in the design, they had to have their own separate pool basin. If you do happen to dip your toes in the “fountain” however, don’t worry, this fountain is filtered and cleaned similar to quality of the swimming pool.
Executive Chef Kitchen Garden
The original herb and kitchen gardens were designed in collaboration with the resident chef at the time. To supplement the herb garden already planned for the grounds, we added her top picks for a kitchen garden on the Central Coast, including heirloom tomatoes, lemon verbena, Kieffer Lime, Moro Blood Orange, Improved Meyer Lemon, and Tuscan Blue Rosemary. If you keep a watchful eye out you might witness kitchen staff out snipping fresh herbs directly from the garden to use for that night’s meal. Doesn’t get any fresher than that!
I haven’t found this treasure located on my geo-cache app, but it is true, on November 4, 2006 a time capsule was buried on the grounds of the Monarch Club. We couldn’t find a rock from our local suppliers at the time that was big enough to embed the whole capsule, so instead the capsule is hidden under a boulder and marked with a plaque. Hint: If you stand at the entry to Adelina’s Bistro and look north -east, a low stone wall ends at a couple of large boulders. Difficulty 1.0, Terrain 1.0 Size: Medium. Happy Hunting!