Traditional Building Portfolio
Palladio Awards

Project: Residence, Greenwich, CT

Architects: Doyle Herman Design Associates, Greenwich, CT; James Doyle, Kathryn Herman, principals

 

Awards
Exterior Spaces – Gardens & Landscapes
Winner: Doyle Herman Design Associates

American Beauty

By Nancy E. Berry

With the condition that the existing 100-year-old Chestnut, Weeping Beech, and Magnolia trees be preserved, James Doyle and Kathryn Herman of Doyle Herman Design Associates collaborated with architectural firm Ferguson & Shamamian to create a classic landscape for a new Georgian Revival house in Greenwich, CT. The three acres of garden rooms has won Doyle Herman its third Palladio Award for residential Gardens & Landscapes.

The five-bay Georgian house with two flanking wings has such beautiful symmetry that balance, and economy of planting, were integral to Doyle Herman's design. "We always begin our designs with the architecture and draw people out into the landscape," notes Doyle. "The house makes such a striking statement; we didn't want to detract from its façade."

"Equally important," adds Herman, "was selecting plants that would ground the new house with their verticality and fit in with the scale of the home. Sometimes the best landscape elements take a lesser role to the architecture."

A small plat of pachysandra with sole rounded boxwood surrounds the front door, where antique cast-iron urns, which Herman sourced, bring seasonal color. Simple rounded boxwoods at the building's front corners, and two large Tulip trees, anchor the house to the site. As the house sits close to the road and is on a lower elevation, the team implemented careful grading and retention walls at the border of the property. These allowed for a parking court and driveway, with its striking inlay of bluestone.

Upon entering the house, the view is a straight axial line from the front door out to the grounds. The terminating point, in the pool garden, is a modern spherical sculpture of polished stainless steel – "Torus 2012" by David Harber. Stone slabs saved from the original house were used as the grand steps in the main lawn, leading to the pool garden. An allée of boxwoods along the steps guides the view. "This boxwood allée is a real American gesture," notes Doyle. The pool garden is lined with Linden trees and boxwood to bring a layered effect to the landscape.

The large rear terrace is ideal for entertaining or simply enjoying the garden views. As it is south facing, Doyle and Herman met the necessity for shade with four London Plane trees (Planatus x acerifolia) along its length. Not only do they provide shade but they also reduce the scale of the house at the rear, as seen from the pool area. The team custom designed benches and tables for the terrace and pool garden, in fabrics that complement the Classical themes of the house. Also on the terrace, an outdoor wood-burning fireplace allows the homeowners to enjoy the grounds long into the fall season.

Plans for a tennis court were abandoned during the design process, allowing for a creative change in the schematics. The design team added a walled garden with a perimeter of forest pansy and a custom fountain with three gurgling heads. Cercis underplanted with undulating boxwoods affords the pool house garden views on either side. "The lap pool and spa are surrounded by stonewalls and narrow perennial gardens, which are planted in contemporary blocks just a single planting deep," notes Herman.

The cottage garden is located at the small stone guesthouse and accessed through a set of custom gates from the pool. A stone path with soft grass joints leads to a private terrace brimming with clusters of white azaleas and fragrant and hardy mock orange, both of which offer long-lasting white blooms. The vegetable and cutting gardens are enclosed by a Beech hedge. An apple orchard was also incorporated into the landscape.

"It is oftentimes what you don't see that can pose the greatest challenge," says Doyle, referring to the technical challenge of incorporating an extensive drainage system. "The whole site underwent a major topographical change," he notes. The town regulations also dictated that all collected water had to be handled on site. In low-lying areas, the team specified wet-tolerant plants.

Though the garden rooms separate and define spaces, they flow effortlessly into one another to create a unified whole. From the garden layout and hardscaping to the choice of outdoor fabrics and custom-designed benches, Doyle Herman Design Associates' rich landscape lends this new Classical home a timeless quality.  

 

 

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