Red Leaf Village Company has hired the region’s
best designers and engineers who are hard at work on Elliott Pond.
Here is some background on those of us employed at Red Leaf itself.
Jim Hagey, President
Jim has been in the development business for 21 years. In the
course of this work – it was in 1987 – he saw an article
in Atlantic Monthly about a walkable community called Seaside
in the Florida panhandle. He decided then and there that if he
could gather the resources and find the right location, he would
build a walkable community himself. The word “walkable”
in this context means that it follows pre-1940s design principles
– principles that give a higher priority to the pedestrian
than to the automobile. It would have large, elevated front porches,
alleys, narrow, tree-shaded streets, a town square and parks.
In 2000, in Ramona, California, he acquired the dream site that
is now called Elliott Pond. It is perfect because it is within
a five-minute, safe walk of schools and a shopping center. Plus,
Ramona is a friendly town, a place Jim has always liked.
To learn which design strategies make a town great or terrible,
Jim has visited Europe and criss-crossed the United States. He
has found the best examples of good, new communities in South
Carolina. Still, the best places to learn are simply the old parts
of town, the parts built before 1940. He has also read countless
design and town-planning books, and books on environmental sustainability.
In addition, he has asked a lot of questions, especially to the
residents of Ramona.
Jim graduated from Stanford University in 1975 where he majored
in Political Science. He received a law degree from the University
of Virginia in 1984. He shortly after entered the real estate
He says the best books on town-planning are Suburban Nation
by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zybeck and Jeff Speck; A
Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander; Streets and
Sidewalks, People and Cars by Dan Burden; New Urbanism:
A Comprehensive Report & Best Practices Guide by Robert
Steuteville and Philip Langdon; and Designing Sustainable
Communities by Judy Corbett and Michael Corbett. He also
recommends Green Remodeling by David Johnston.
Karina Bania, Designer
I first met Karina two weeks after she returned from a nine-month,
sometimes solitary tour of India. Her design work reflects her
unconventional approach to life. It is fun, interesting, but restrained,
tasteful, practical and always looks timeless. We want our communities
to reflect those same qualities.
The Mexican tile-maker was about to throw away his tile because
his cat had just left paw prints across its still-soft surface.
Karina deliberately chose that tile for the kitchen counter of
a resort condominium – just because of the paw prints. She
is also, as you might derive, an artist.
Krisztina Szathmary, Architect and Urban Planner
Krisztina has the enormous advantage of having attended architecture
school in Europe, where designing on a human scale is standard.
That’s why European communities are so charming. The setbacks,
street widths and building heights are designed for the pedestrian.
Even the distances are designed for pedestrians. A safe, shaded,
five-minute walk can get you to the most important destinations
– shops, schools, parks, friends’ homes.
Krisztina was born and educated in Hungary, where she graduated
from the Technical University of Budapest. Her degree does not
apply in the U.S., so she is not a licensed American architect.
Perhaps her U.S. title should be something like “Architectural
Designer”, but she is in fact one of the best architects
As for the silent “z” in both her first and last names,
Hungarians have their own rules for that letter and make it hard
for the rest of us.