You might not know WPL by name or recognize their influence on our North End landscape by site but it is worth getting to know them, their roots and the firm’s philosophy. Their firm practices environmental preservation, respect for green space, improves community development and excels at planning places where people live, work, shop and play. WPL is celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. As fate would have it, WPL’s founder Wilfred P. Large died earlier this year at the age of 94.
If you have walked the streets of the North End, Bay Colony and Princess Anne Hills or visited the Cavalier on the Hill and the new Marriott Hotel you have encountered WPL projects. If you have walked the decked beach access paths over the dunes or admired the iconic Live Oak trees, which are the official City of Virginia Beach tree, you have encountered WPL projects. If you have observed the North End entrance sign, noticed the improved Atlantic Avenue median landscape or the 52nd Street boat and kayak access way, you have encountered WPL projects.
Wilfred, a decorated WWII veteran, started the company in 1960 with his friend William ”Buddy” Pritchard. Buddy is an integral part of the company and continues to research, review and seal land surveys. With the first office located in downtown Norfolk, Wilfred and Buddy worked around the clock to break into the business as a two-man firm while competing against larger survey firms like Bald and Gregg and Frank D. Tarrall to win work. They grew into one of, if not the premier, land surveying, civil engineering and landscape architecture company in the area and are highly regarded in the industry as the local firm that works on national recognized projects.
Most notably, part of WPL’s mission statement is to be responsive, accountable and dependable with an emphasis on synthesizing innovation, sustainability and aesthetics into creative environments. That might sound like corporate syntax but I have worked with Billy Almond, WPL Principal Landscape architect, North End native (he grew up on 84th Street) and NVBCL Board Member/ Zoning and can attest to seeing Billy work in action. , I am always impressed by his time-consuming efforts and integrity in maintaining the North End landscape as well as addressing flooding issues, nurturing the civic league’s relationship with City Council and City offices all while having his finger on the pulse of what is happening around his resort hometown. After the 2019 mass shooting at the court complex, when the 5G cell towers were being debated and recently during the COVID crisis, Billy is the Civic League’s eyes on the ground and knows how to navigate these huge events that impact the country, and ultimately our North End Community.
The company as a whole seems to function like Billy, with a multi-discipline approach merging the art and science of land design, development and commercial, public and private projects responsibly and aesthetically. Today, Wilfred’s youngest son, Brian Large, a Bay Colony resident, works cohesively with Billy and Buddy to honor his father’s legacy. Wilfred’s oldest son, Lance Large is an integral part of the civil engineering division, as WPL works on the new Embassy Suites taking shape next to the oceanfront Cavalier Marriott.
WPL has grown in its 60-year history, as has the Hampton Roads Region and Virginia Beach in particular. They have worked to make us sustainable, create beautiful private and public landscapes and continue to make a difference in VB residents’ community and lifestyle.
WPL North End Projects:
The Cavalier Campus
US Corps of Engineers Dune Crossovers / Walkways
Multiple beach access way landscape management designs and plans
Wyndham Hotel Landscape Design
Mai Kai Apartments Master Plan
Edgar Cayce ARE Campus Master Plan (Billy at previous firm)
Edgar Cayce ARE Historic Building Renovation and Additions (Billy at previous firm)
US NAVY Housing Redevelopment between 67th and 68th Streets
Cavalier Shores Historic Streetscape Design
Atlantic Avenue Feeder Road Parking Study
Atlantic Ave. Median Landscape Design
North End Sign Design Project / Site and Landscape Plans
60 years of land surveying and residential site plans at the North End
42 years of high-end residential landscape design
50th Street Coastal Garden beach access way
52nd Street and Lakeside Drive boat and kayak access way landscape design
22 years supporting the North Virginia Beach Civic League’s Zoning Review Committee (Billy)
Author: Monica Stein at the Northender Magazine