Site analysis of Scipio creek

View of completed project, lodge and wetland restorationView of completed project, lodge and wetland restoration

I usually keep my mouth shut about my client’s work. But in light of an idiot wearing black robe doubting I even went to Auburn and never worked as an architect and landscape architect I’m going to post this. Disclaimer: I guess if you are going to obsess about something design is as good as anything. That said these notes are going to proceed on the basis that (1) I do not have the best design solution and (2) that I can never know enough about the ecology of a site.

Below are a series of photos from the site. Approximately 34,000 square feet of impervious concrete paving was placed over protected wetlands in the late 1960’s when the resident had a contract to deliver concrete to construct the bridge spanning Apalachicola bay. At the entrance to the residence were several small isolated wetlands that contained rare pitcher plants and at one point the drive crosses a seepage spring.

The question was can an alternative to the developer’s original plan be developed that enhanced the economic value of the site and be a more sustainable solution. The original developer of the site was Wood Montgomery from Georgia and had a site study and survey done. A local realtor, Captain Gil Autrey and huge fan of preserving Apalachicola bay that conducts tours of the river lived near the site felt it had alternative possibilities that could be more environmentally sensitive. Autrey connected a developer from his hometown of Valdosta Georgia and he commissioned us to explore the idea that a more sustainable alternative be proposed to county planning officials. Autrey’s decades of fishing experience and intimate knowledge of the bay were invaluable in this process. Fortunately my former thesis advisor Michael Robinson was starting a masters in real estate development program at Auburn and was a invaluable resource. Robinson’s challenge was to use design and environmental research to try to develop an economic situation that increased profit but enabled capitalism to restore a site biologically. Two ideas that are mutually exclusive that traditionally cannot exist side-by-side. Scipio creek proved the exception to this rule.

The idea was existing buildings be eliminated and the main residence’s footprint negotiated as a site for a new building. Then, the building footprint be moved to an optimal location that views dictated. Materials would go from toxic traditional products of wood frame construction and stucco to a more ecologically sensitive palette.

Existing impervious surfaces and creosote pilings in wetland areasExisting impervious surfaces and creosote pilings in wetland areas

In return for the two regulatory agencies that needed to sign off on this ( Franklin County and US Army Corps of Engineers) the following is what I proposed.

My question (upon reflection) is what would have been possible that would be more sensitive to the site’s ecology. That involves 3 inquiries, 1) architectural- the fly fishing lodge specific and idea home 2) The landscape plan of the intervention into the illegally dredged inlet and adjacent wetlands both new and preserved, the treatment of the underwater component to the surface of the dredging and, 3) the master plan. Obviously no fishing lodge and a complete restoration of all disturbed wetland areas would be better from an environmental impact perspective. The lodge unique to the river, and the ability to carve out additional lots on upland areas of the site though is what drove the value of the property and making it unique to the marketplace. This was the argument opposed to a series of waterfront lots with long decks to Scipo creek with moored boats as a source of contaminants which was the original developer’s plan.

Sketch on survey showing wetlands and notes from site studySketch on survey showing wetlands and notes from site study

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