Back in 2005, a local newspaper ran a story about Neave Group and the work we’d done creating water features for our clients. Talk about awesome free advertising! The day after the story ran, we got a call from the Culinary Institute of America asking us to build a waterfall on its Hyde Park, N.Y., campus.
The campus is so beautiful, dotted with trees and flanked by the Hudson River to the west. But students at this incredibly prestigious school are under a lot of pressure – rushing around campus in their chef’s coats and checkered pants, learning the ropes of the incredibly stressful restaurant industry – so it made sense that the school would want to build a calming water feature, a place to relax for even just a few moments between classes or over their morning coffee.
The area we eventually started building on was near a residence hall in the center of campus, situated on a large retention pond. It was a big project for us – one of our biggest, actually – made even bigger by the fact that, because of budget issues, we had only about five weeks to complete it.
You can see from the “Before” photos that there wasn’t much going on here before we got started. Just some sloped, bare land with the pond below it. But it was a great blank slate to start with.
The project was huge in scope, with hundreds of thousands of gallons of water and pumps that needed to move that water up 30 to 40 feet (those are some serious pumps, with power needs we’d never experienced before), plus a few added challenges: Spring weather in the Hudson Valley always presents a bit of a wild card, and thanks to some unique environmental factors, we couldn’t build from the bottom up like we usually do, and instead had to do our work from left to right.
Some days we had a crew of three or four guys and some heavy-duty machinery to move earth and get the pumps situated and installed. Later on, we had more than 10 people doing the actual landscaping as we finished up.
The feature’s finished with New York fieldstone, which will hold up against the elements for many years to come. Within the waterfall, we installed aquatic plants, and along the edges of the installation, there are spruce and pine trees, rhododendrons, some ornamental grasses and other plants to keep it looking beautiful year round.
Yes, it was a big job, but I never wondered whether we’d bit off more than we could chew. In fact, we finished the job with almost a week to spare.
We knew we were cooking up something great, and it was worth it every step of the way.
These days, the CIA’s full-time grounds crews take care of the waterfall and the upkeep of all the plantings. Six years later, it still looks great, the school is happy, and they keep having us back to do smaller projects for the institute.
If you’re in the Hudson Valley, call us at (845) 463-0592. If you’re in Westchester County, call (914) 271-7996; from Connecticut, dial (203) 212-4800. Or, fill out our simple web form, and we’ll contact you about setting up your free consultation.