Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club
Date Published: 2011-09-26
WHEN NATURE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLIDE : Landscape Architect Combines GPS and 3D Modeling to Design and Build Aesthetic, Natural Event Area
|Project Name: Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club
Block Manufacturer: Rosetta of Michigan
|Customer Name: Hoffman Estates Park District
Wall Installer: Hoffman Estates Park District Crews
|Landscape Architect: Gary Buczkowski, Director of Planning & Development
Project Location: Hoffman Estates, IL
In 2010, the Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club was poised for a transformation. Led by Director of Planning & Development Gary Buczkowski, the Country Club’s goal was to position itself as a premier venue for outdoor weddings and banquets.
Proposed elements for the new venue included a waterfall and pond, a gazebo, gardens and space for seating. In discussions with the golf course management, the design theme that kept coming up was “natural.” However, Buczkowski knew that creating a pond and waterfall with natural stone would not fit the project’s budget or the experience level of the park districts’ installation crew.
Buczkowski was faced with a challenge—creating a natural-looking event area that met the country club’s aesthetic goals—while also being completely achievable in the installation phase.
“As a landscape architect, the biggest challenge is actually achieving the outcome I envision, especially when dealing with natural elements. Rock that comes from a quarry may not match the vision because the size, shape and even color can vary,” Buczkowski explained.
He continued: “I call it the Picasso effect. When people commissioned Picasso to do a painting, they never knew what they were going to get. With rock work, it’s the same thing; you never know exactly what you’re going to get until you’ve got it. That’s ultimately why we chose Rosetta instead of natural stone—it’s as natural as you can get, but you know exactly what you’re going to get.”
For this project, Buczkowski chose the Outcropping Collection because it most closely matched the aesthetics and scale the project required. The Outcropping Collection combines 12 unique size stones with 24 unique stone textures taken from actual, world-class weathered stones. Made of architectural grade wet-cast concrete, Rosetta stones will stand the test of time for generations. Plus, the consistent dimensions make it easy and quick to install.
“Rosetta was chosen because it was a product that could be predictable,” Buczkowski explained. And then, he took “predictable” to a whole new level in designing the stone work for the waterfall and pond at the ceremony area.
Initially, Buczowski used AutoCAD to design the project, then he transferred the data into Google SketchUp to create 3D models of the site—which was a necessity for sales purposes.
All through the planning and construction phase, brides and grooms visited the country club and based their wedding plans off of Buczkowski’s 3D models. So Buczkowski’s number one goal was designing a landscape that would ultimately match his vision—and 3D plans—for the site.
“When you’re bringing a concept into reality, the installation process can present little twists and turns in the orientation of blocks that can really affect the final outcome of the project. The only way I could be reasonably assured that everything would be built to the exact scale was plotting GPS coordinates for each of the blocks.”
To accomplish this, Buczkowski transferred the base course of blocks back into AutoCAD from the 3D Sketchup models. There, he assigned a point to the corners of each block, which he then transferred to a GPS system that installers used in the field.
“The ability to map out the project using GPS coordinates allowed us to deliver on our promise. I was sure that what I drew could be built in the field,” Buczkowski said.
Buczkowski plotted about 130 points for the base course of the blocks. In preparation for placing the blocks, the county’s crew marked the “points” on the PVC pond liner, then created cutouts of the blocks and placed them on the ground as a final test of the layout before construction began.
On construction day, a 32-ton crane arrived at 7:30 am and began setting blocks, which Buczkowski’s crew had palletized in sequence to expedite the installation process.
Even through the park district’s crew had never installed Rosetta before, the project progressed quickly.
“The crane operator told us, ‘You guys have to slow down because you’re cramping my hand!’ We were installing at least one piece a minute. By the end of the day, we had installed 96 tons of material in just 7.5 hours by a crew that had never placed Rosetta before. We didn’t even lose any fingers!” Buczkowski joked.
He continued: “We’ve had wall experts in the landscape industry who’ve looked at the project and said, if we would have done this with natural stone, it would have taken 2 ½ to 3 weeks of work. We did it in just 7.5 hours,” Buczkowski said.
Buczkowski was very pleased with the way Rosetta worked on his project. “The guys here joke that I’m ‘the Rosetta guy,’ but I say, ‘Hey, I’m not selling Rosetta. This product works.’”
He continued: “As a landscape architect, you have to deliver on your promise. This is extremely important, especially when you’re dealing with low bid, tax-payer funded contracts. With Rosetta, we were able to get the results we wanted. I believe we have 30-some weddings booked at the venue this year; our goal was 19 so we are way ahead of schedule. So far the brides and grooms who have had their events here have been ecstatic about our ability to deliver on our promise,” Buczkowski concluded.
In total, 2800 sq. ft. of Rosetta Outcropping stone was installed at the event area, and an additional 3700 sq. ft. of Outcropping stone was used to create retaining walls, a retention pond and other features throughout the rest of the golf course.
In addition to the Outcropping Collection, the complete line of Rosetta Hardscapes products includes smaller scale wall options, flagstone slab collections, coping, steps and more. Visit www.DiscoverRosetta.com today for product information, design resources and to find your local manufacturer!
This project was featured in the July 2012 issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier news. See the article here!
This project was also awarded "2012 Renovation of the Year" by Golf Inc. Magazine. View that article here!