The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.
Amelia Earhart, Hurricane Maria, and a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
None of these things are quite like the other, but all are part of the lush history of Su Casa.
A seaside estate located in Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach enclave, Su Casa was first owned by pioneering aviator Clara Livingston, then by financier and conservationist Laurance Rockefeller. Over the last century, the waterfront property has hosted its fair share of fêtes and disasters and survived them all—though it recently had a close brush.
When Hurricane Maria marred the island in 2017, Su Casa and the Ritz-Carlton Reserve were not spared. But with the help of Champalimaud’s Anna Beeber and Elisabeth Rogoff, the five-bedroom Su Casa has since been restored to its natural splendor—and then some. Below, Beeber and Rogoff give color to their renovation, in their own words.
Inspiration: Located in a private enclave in the middle of the Ritz Reserve’s magnificent grounds, Su Casa is a five-bedroom 1920’s Spanish-style villa with a storied past. Formerly belonging to the legendary aviatrix Clara Livingston and then Laurance Rockefeller, the villa welcomed many historic figures over the years, including Amelia Earhart and scores of celebrities in the ’70s and ’80s. We were given the wonderful opportunity to renovate the villa after Hurricane Maria, and were deeply inspired by its long tradition of hospitality. The grounds are lush and welcoming with an extraordinary view of the sea. It was our goal to build off of the past in a light and reflective way and to create a space that’s lasting and meaningful, while simultaneously inviting and inspiring to the modern traveler.
Blueprint: Designed to give guests all of the comforts of home while firmly rooted in a sense of place, Su Casa utilizes every opportunity to give visitors generous views and easy access to its beautiful gardens and the sea beyond. The living spaces flow from one to the other with multiple dining areas and lounges dotted along the terraces, pool decks, and gardens. Each of the suites includes a private sitting area and outdoor space where the guest can find a few moments of quiet. With the addition of a massage room, movement studio, and game room/cinema, our guests never need to leave the property.
Materials: We used a neutral palette throughout the villa accented with natural oak ceilings and mouldings and black and white encaustic tile floors. The result is sophisticated, but not pretentious. Most of the furnishings were designed by Champalimaud to maximize comfort and style. We also worked with local artists and craftsmen to embrace the wonderful heritage of Dorado Beach and respect the location. A few of Livingston’s original antiques are sprinkled into the assembly, creating a richly layered atmosphere.
Challenges: We were working with a short time line on an island removed from many of the resources we come to rely on in New York. However, our client was masterful in their execution of the construction and we loved working with the entire team. They were incredibly communicative and responsive, and the atmosphere around the project was very much alive with anticipation and adrenaline.