A patron of the arts and a lover of design, Ann Goodnight wanted to create a resort-style hotel in a park-like setting that would capture the natural beauty of the North Carolina landscape and attract travelers from all over the world. Achieving this vision required a sensitivity to the environment and an exacting attention to detail that only WithersRavenel could provide. Through diligent planning, surveying, and engineering, the Umstead Hotel and Spa came to life on 12 wooded acres on the outskirts of the SAS Institute campus, offering a welcome retreat amidst the bustle of the Triangle and a destination recognized around the globe.
Originally, Ms. Goodnight imagined the hotel in The Arboretum, a growing upscale community in Cary about one mile from SAS. Residents of The Arboretum, however, did not show a positive interest in the project. Unwilling to provoke any resentment among her neighbors, Ms. Goodnight turned to the SAS Institute campus itself. With WithersRavenel’s help, three aging buildings were identified and demolished to make room for the hotel.
The site encompasses SAS Lake, the stream that drains into it, and a dam on the stream; the stream’s watershed is urban and highly impervious. WithersRavenel developed a restoration and stabilization design for an approximately 400-foot-long section of the stream to reconnect the channel invert with the existing floodplain. Stormwater BMPs were constructed upstream of the lake, and the dam was rehabilitated to include a stilling well at the outlet to minimize wetland impacts. Ann’s husband, Dr. James Goodnight, was particularly concerned about maintaining the trees on the dam, so WithersRavenel also negotiated with Dam Safety to design around trees left on the dam while minimizing hazards. Because the lake serves as a site amenity as well as a regional flood control structure, WithersRavenel designed a vegetated shelf for enhanced aquatic life and wetland plantings and a walking trail around the lake’s perimeter.