Veria Ayurvedic Wellness Center Master Plan

Monticello, New York

Over the decades, the 300-acre site of Kutsher’s Country Club has long been a refuge in the Catskills for city-dwellers to seek reconnection with nature. Since its closure, the site has remained virtually untouched. In 2014, we were charged with designing an adaptive reuse master plan that would rejuvenate the picturesque property into a new 300,000‑square-foot Veria Ayurvedic Wellness Center. The new 200-key resort would offer a range of health-centric programs, including yoga sciences, ayurvedic medical treatments, biodynamic restaurants (we’ll let your imagination run with that one) and other recreational activities, including golf at the neighboring championship course.

The existing buildings, built piecemeal over the decades, were in such a deplorable state of repair it was determined early in our development of the master plan that only the floor slabs and columns of the existing structures were salvageable for reuse. this tactic allows us to work within an accelerated timeline while conserving materials—and, significantly reducing red tape and time during the site plan approval process.

Critical to our design was to maintain the surrounding landscape and the preservation of the existing mature trees and greenery and establish a sense of order and calmness to the disjointed jumble of existing buildings. Our master plan stitches the buildings together by infusing massive stone walls that penetrate and envelop the existing buildings, bringing purpose to the chaotic plan. These site-wide improvements also make the most of the natural topography and resources of the area. We proposed a new entry drive that meanders past wetlands and through groves of trees, immersing guests in the calmness of the grounds before they even reach the front door. We relocated the lobby to be the central hub of the building cluster to ease the natural flow across the ground floor which now connects to every part of the building. Views and access to the outdoors from the ground floor would then be further maximized by strategically locating support spaces toward the center of the plan.

From the lobby, the plan spurs off to the public amenity spaces, which anchor either side of the  property with areas such as fitness and yoga spaces to the west, spa and treatment facilities to the east, and recreational and educational areas to the south. The master plan includes the realignment of the old dining facility into a large-scale multipurpose room and conference center, ideal for lectures, corporate retreats, and group yoga sessions. It relocates the dining program to the main building to take advantage of sweeping views over the central lake, which includes a new dining terrace to take it all in. The spa and treatment functions will replace an old theatre building to create a unique destination within the resort, we planned therapy and treatment rooms to take full advantage of the available space.

We approached the master plan’s design fully embodying Veria’s philosophy of connecting to nature. It’s in the landscape: the stagnant lake will undergo a phytoremediation process to bring it back to life, farming areas will grow vegetables and herbs for the dining and treatment centers, and passive green roofs (which reduce solar heat gain, increase stormwater retention, and help filter pollutants), and solar shading on the southern exposures will help keep energy costs down.

Creating that seamless connection between the built and natural environment is achieved through indoor and outdoor gardens and pools (who doesn’t love an indoor/outdoor pool?), operable facades that open to the outside, and atriums that sunlight stream into the building. An active green roof atop the spa offers opportunities for sunbathing, lounging, and outdoor yoga. Our experiential concept harmonizes the entire site, it’s about extending the treatment experience beyond constructed boundaries.