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Celebrity Designer Brings Wow Factor to EKU

2017 Photo of Carloftis Garden and Martin Hall

Decades before landscape designer Jon Carloftis grew up along the banks of the Rockcastle River in the Appalachian foothills, the Richmond campus of what is now EKU was described as The Campus Beautiful.

Carloftis Garden, dedicated in May 2017, only adds to the splendor, reminding the campus and community that as new buildings of every purpose are altering the skyline, the addition of attractive green spaces at ground level is no less critical in the University’s ongoing revitalization.

landscape designer Jon Carloftis

Though Carloftis has acquired a national reputation as the “Gardener to the Stars,” the EKU garden is the first he ever designed for a public university campus. Fronting New Martin Hall at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive, it replaces tennis courts that were moved to the south side of campus, greatly enhancing the aesthetic appeal on the University’s western periphery.

“We wanted to do a garden that was a wow factor,” said Carloftis, who received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Eastern in 2014. “You want something that’s going to have an impact.”

It certainly had that effect on Shalomel Achi, a junior public health major who spoke at the dedication. “I’m thankful for the green space you’re making available to us,” she said. “I’ve seen Eastern be transformed, and I’ve come to love it more.”

--This article also appears in the Fall 2017 EKU Magazine 

More About Carloftis Garden

Carloftis Garden is two acres, which is about 1.5 times the size of a football field, and it uses a high-tech irrigation system that relies on sensors to determine when the grounds need watered – you won’t see a sprinkler running during a rain shower. Additionally, about 75 percent of the plants in the garden are native Kentucky species.

The centerpieces of the garden are twin fountains, one of which was donated by EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni member Scott Northcutt, ’84, to honor his wife of 28 years, the former Anne Allegrini, ’86. The two met at EKU just two weeks before he graduated.

“The garden is a wonderful addition to the EKU campus... and captures the spirit of The Campus Beautiful,” Northcutt said. “The water continuously flowing symbolically expresses my love for my wife as new, ever evolving and renewing.”

Mr. Northcutt, a first-generation college graduate, is global senior vice president for Bacardi Limited. The Northcutts reside in Bermuda, but their minds often wander back to Eastern.

Carloftis Garden is just one component of the University’s ongoing campus revitalization plan, which includes new academic facilities, residence halls and dining hall, as well as various aesthetic enhancements.


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