We met Alberto Alfonso years ago when we first interviewed him for his design of the Chihuly museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ve been back to the museum several times since, both for the love of Chihuly’s work as for the beautiful framework Alberto had created for it. Having now been able to see a second project we can safely say that Alberto’s work is about creating a stage for the design within or the setting that surrounds it, always with a focus on blending materials, shapes and textures for a well balanced, yet edgy, composition.
Opened earlier this year, Streamsong sits at the heart of 16,000 acres of land that used to be phosphate mines known as Bone Valley. The land has long since been reclaimed by nature with only a hint of its former life reflected in the many water basins and undulating hills, a rarity in Florida. The resort includes the hotel itself, spanning six stories and 316,000 square feet as well as a 42,000 square foot clubhouse that serves two award winning golf courses.
Modern architecture with an almost brutalist feel at once juxtaposes and, ironically, anchors the vast landscape that surrounds it. The design is anything but the palm-tree-beach-and-golf-course stereotype the sunshine state is known for but rather an exercise in deeper confrontation between land and architecture.
The hotel’s interior beautifully represents Alberto Alfonso’s architectural ethos, his ability to harmoniously blend old and new, straight line and curve, hard and soft surfaces to create a space that, despite its visual tension is restful and calming.
Alberto Alfonso had free reign in developing the concept for the resort and his design extended into branding of every element including the fonts used on print materials, staff uniforms as well as all interior and exterior spaces. The water color sketch above illustrates his vision of the hotel as a tree within the landscape with concrete pillars on lower floors forming the roots or trunks and the hotel rooms as canopy.
The hotel’s main restaurant located on the lower ground floor best illustrates the concept of the building growing out of the ground. Named for its location it depicts the stylized tree that symbolized the concept of the hotel itself. Note also the signage font, designed by Alberto for the project.
The building’s “tree trunks” rise from the ground and expand upward in soft organic shapes and become essential design elements as they define the space they’re in. In the restaurant (top) the support becomes a sculpture that separates the bar and the restaurant; in the breezeway between hotel and spa building we see the pillars in raw concrete best suited in the outdoor setting and in the spa we see them again, this time as dark and moody guardians of this luxurious sanctuary.