Artistic, prolific and environmentally conscientious, Tom Lucido’s legacy in landscape architecture adorns and defines much of the Treasure Coast.
The public parks where you picnic with family. The golf course where you unwind with friends. The downtowns, shopping centers and restaurants you frequent. Maybe even the very community in which you live.
Odds are likely that most of the above came to fruition thanks to the vision, creativity and design of Tom Lucido, owner of Stuart-based landscape architecture firm Lucido & Associates.
While majoring in art education at Wayne State University, the Detroit native grappled with doubt about his chosen career path. He took an aptitude test and discovered his natural ability for the then little-known profession of landscape architecture, which he transferred to Michigan State University to study.
Art education’s loss was our city’s gain. Next year his firm celebrates its 30th anniversary. Lucido and his team of designers have performed the site planning, government approvals, and landscaping and hardscaping designs for some of the most impressive and iconic destinations on the Treasure Coast.
His portfolio includes, among many others, Memorial Park and Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Stuart, as well as the initial revitalization of downtown Stuart; the Ritz-Carlton and The Bear’s Club in Jupiter; the Floridian, Danforth, Monarch and much of Martin Downs, all in Palm City; McArthur Golf Club, Medalist Golf Club, Loblolly Pines, the Pine School, all in Hobe Sound; and the Shoppes of Veranda Falls, St. Lucie West and Tradition, all in Port St. Lucie. He’s recently finished a renovation at Sailfish Point and is currently working on the new Holiday Inn Oceanside in Jensen Beach.
Guided by an overall design philosophy to create time-tested traditions, address present-day needs and anticipate future uses and styles, Lucido adheres to strong personal convictions about environmental stewardship. Designing in harmony with nature, he’s pioneered preservation practices that beautifully blend sustainability with aesthetics.
What are some ways in which you’ve designed projects to complement the natural environment?
When we did Martin Downs, they had all this forested area. We were the first to propose transplanting trees and saw palmettos to serve as buffers. The old way was to bulldoze the site, level it, fill it; it’s faster and easier. Back in 1983, we said, ‘Whoa. You have all this landscape. Why buy more of it later when you can move and save it now?’
You hear so much about the costs and delays associated with regulations, but you’ve regarded many of them as opportunities.
Right. For example, we’re required by law to save wetlands. But our philosophy—and I say ‘our’ because the credit for what we’ve accomplished really belongs to my team—is to make them amenities. Some clients used to say, ‘You can’t make wetlands amenities.’ We’d reply, ‘Why can’t we? It’s an opportunity to increase the value of the home when on wetlands. Now there’s a preserve that gives the site more privacy.’ Same with littoral zones. They’re requirements, but we enhance them with vegetation that’s more habitable to wildlife.
How do you design something that will endure for decades?
I spent time in Europe and studying European models. I went to the University of Warsaw, in an area where everything was totally destroyed by the Nazis and rebuilt. I spent a lot of time looking at the city centers but also the parks—and that’s where I get a lot of my creativity and ideas from. When you look at Memorial Park and the big archway, it’s like a mini Arc De Triomphe. You have to look back in history to help guide you, and listen to what the market is dictating.
Martin County is known for strict regulations limiting growth, but you’ve been incredibly productive. How?
We’ve directed our clients relative to the codes while respecting the community’s caution and concern for our natural resources and quality of life. By following the rules and still respecting the environment, we’ve been able to create great projects that are