2017 Business Leaders of the Year | Entrepreneurialism
When you walk through the Tampa Channelside District, the unique landscape of Pierhouse Public Park immediately grabs your attention, as the patterns and elements pay homage to the area’s shipyard and industrial warehouse district. In west Orlando, both the New Independence Parkway and Hamlin Trail feature a plant palette of predominantly native plants, harmonizing the natural land and citrus legacy of the area. One look at master planned community Starkey Ranch’s focus on artful contrast, deliberate geometry and the use of native materials, and it is no surprise the Tampa-area community won a Nationals Silver Award for the 2016 Master Planned Community of the Year.
All of this progressive landscape architecture is the work of Dix. Hite + Partners. For two decades, the company, under the leadership of its president Christina Hite, has created breathtaking landscape architecture, successfully integrating outstanding technical ability with art and design.
While attending Northern Arizona University, Hite’s mother suggested she look into the landscape architecture program at the University of Georgia. For Hite, the field provided a perfect synthesis of everything she was interested in, mixing art, science and the application of those processes. After working at a large architectural firm, Hite partnered with former co-worker and landscape architect Jeff Dix in 1995. They brought in a chief financial officer, Gail O’Connor, and Dix. Hite + Partners was born.
Today, the company has 31 employees and has created projects mostly throughout the southeast. These projects, both completed and in progress, include the Maitland Art and History Museum, Daytona Beach Transformation Plan, Oviedo Center Lake Park, Viera Town Center Vision Plan, SunRail, The Paramount at Lake Eola, Wai Kai at Hoakalei Resort in Oahu, Hawaii, and LYNX Regional Intermodal Center in Orlando.
In a premier construction environment, Hite feels the architect, civil engineer and landscape architect are a synergistic team in developing the overall plan, as opposed to one discipline following the other. The environment also serves as a blank slate for which the developers can create stunning works. For the company, landscape architecture involves creating spaces that fit the history and theme of the area, and preserving the land as a built environment is added.
“It always begins with the site and its purpose,” Hite said. “For landscape architects, the soil, topography, open areas and vegetation are the palette and canvas for their endeavors.”
One of Dix. Hite + Partner’s next endeavors is at Central Station in Orlando. The company is providing landscape architecture for the block around Amelia St. and Livingston St. The area’s first phase will have an interior courtyard, rooftop terrace and vehicular entry plaza associated with a six-story, 279-unit mixed-use building. The company is also providing assistance for the block’s public realm design containing streetscapes, a bikeway corridor, linear park and pedestrian plaza, which will serve as a link to the LYNX Central Station SunRail platform.
Throughout Hite’s career, she has utilized the built and natural environment to create picturesque architecture. As the opportunities to work with more companies and landscapes continue, the most important thing to Hite is employee and client satisfaction.
“What gives me the most pleasure from a project standpoint is that, at the end of the day, everyone involved is happy, it looks great and those who live there enjoy it. This is my greatest reward.”