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Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

The product of fertile creativity and unrestrained financial resources, inspired by great gardens of the European Renaissance, Vizcaya is an expression of its gifted creators in South Florida during the early 1900s. From 1910 to 1925, Industrialist James Deering commissioned a team of designers including Paul Chalfin, Frank Burrall Hoffman, and Diego Suarez to transform 180 acres of the Biscayne Bay landscape and seascape into an integrated pattern of visually arresting and tactilely rich gardens and fountains within the surrounds of the bay, mangrove coastline, hardwood hammock, and pine woodland. Initially a seasonal residence and self-sufficient farm complex, Vizcaya was entrusted to Miami-Dade County as a public museum in 1952 and celebrated as a  National Historic Landmark in 1993. Significant landscape change, hurricane impact, and the reduction of the estate to 50 acres led the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Trust to embark on a stewardship and restoration program to renew the magnificent villa landscape. In 2009, Heritage Landscapes was selected to prepare the Vizcaya Cultural Landscape Report, Stewardship & Management Plan to address historical evolution, period plans, existing conditions, current use, analysis of integrity, restoration treatment exploration, and landscape management.

The Vizcaya CLR  thoroughly documents the evolution of the  landscape as originally designed by Deering’s design team, and later repaired by Chalfin after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926, and used as a public museum since the 1950s.  Synthesizing a large volume of research findings, Heritage Landscapes analyzed the current conditions and character of twelve landscape units against historical conditions. Focused research of current use and maintenance efforts led to the creation of a comprehensive stewardship and management plan for the site. Heritage Landscapes also engaged topical experts in the study of natural landscape communities and the historical context of design precedents and parallels.  From this foundation, findings pointed toward an overall restoration treatment, based on appropriate levels of landscape integrity and documentation of historic character and details.  The Vizcaya CLR provides detailed guidance for the restoration of the numerous garden spaces and the overall landscape.  As a stewardship and management guide, the document will continue to inform and direct the care and interpretation of this historic American palazzo and its tropical context into the future.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, The Vizcayans, Inc.

Vizcaya Cultural Landscape Report, Stewardship & Management Plan, 2009-2011

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners, with Falcón + Bueno, Landscape Architecure & Planning