Traditional Building Portfolio



Country Club Setting

Gardens and landscape elements complement a new residence in central Ohio.

Project: Residence, Columbus, OH

Architect: Brian Kent Jones Architects, Columbus, OH; Brian Kent Jones, principal

Landscape Architect: Edmund D. Hollander Landscape Architect Design, PC, New York, NY; Edmund Hollander, principal

By Annabel Hsin

In the northeast region of Columbus, OH, lie 26 acres of rolling meadows and sprawling trees that were, until recently, the site of an abandoned 150-year-old house. When the owners of the property approached Brian Kent Jones, principal of Columbus, OH-based Brian Kent Jones Architects, it was quickly decided that the existing house would be torn down to make way for a new house.

"One of the biggest objectives set by the clients was to preserve the character of the land and the setting of the existing house," says Jones. "That led us to a Northeastern Shingle Style house that also tried to pull in some of the regional vernacular by using local stones on certain aspects of the structure."

The exterior is predominantly cedar shake with a grey slate roof and a stone foundation of a local buff-colored Ohio limestone. The Tuscan columns and capitals, Doric entablature and mahogany windows are all painted white. The primary access to the site – from the north – remained in the same location as the existing house, while the new house was set on an elevated plateau to overlook a wide meadow at the rear. "That orientation is to the south," says Jones, "so the organization of the house was quite linear along the east to west axis to take advantage of the view of the meadow and the southern exposures – all of the primary living spaces are lined up along that exposure." The library, living room, family room, kitchen and a circular west bay room are all located at the south side, as are all the bedrooms on the second floor, including the master suite.

The clients turned to landscape architect Edmund Hollander, principal of New York City-based Edmund D. Hollander Landscape Architect Design, to create traditional informal gardens that would complement the surrounding landscape. "With the landscape design we tried to create a three-way marriage between the site, the architecture and the expectations of the clients," says Hollander. "We had some very nice existing trees that we were working with along with the open view of the meadow. We tried to take the greatest advantage of the natural characteristics of the property to create a beautiful entry to the front of the house, a seating area off the back where the clients could appreciate the view and a pool area that, while functional in the summer months, wouldn't be located in the primary view."

Hollander decided a traditional garden structure with informal plantings would best suit the Shingle Style house. "The garden has great symmetry but the plantings don't," he says. "The plantings loosen up and help soften some of the rigidity of the architecture." A pastel color scheme of hydrangeas, echinaceas, peonies, catmint and lavender were selected to contrast the deep greens of the surrounding trees and meadow, as well as the dark palette of the local bluestone used for the walkways and terraces. "We didn't want to have any glaring colors or a monochromatic garden and these plant colors change with the season," says Hollander.

The L-shaped house serves as a terminus for the wooded half-mile-long driveway. Four existing native trees rise at the center of an oval-shaped parking court. "Our desire to preserve the existing trees at the front of the house gave birth to the design of the oval entry court," says Hollander. "With a house of this scale, and in a traditional home like this one, we feel it's important to preserve all the big trees near the house; we also brought in additional 40-50-ft. tall oak trees to reinforce the feeling of this being an established home rather than a new house."

In designing the terraces that overlook the meadow, Hollander drew inspiration from "Lutyens-Jekyll" gardens, incorporating architectural materials in the hardscape designs. "There's a symbiotic relationship between the landscape and the architecture with this project," he says. "The architecture creates walls for the landscape, while the landscape provides the setting."

Three sets of French doors in the living room lead to an outdoor fireplace terrace. The fireplace protrudes from a side wall and is built with the same local Ohio limestone as the exterior; its hood is covered with the same slate tile used on the roof. The bluestone walkway patterns mirror those at the front of the house. Descending steps lead to a larger outdoor living room that is defined by a diamond-patterned bluestone terrace bordered by boxwood and catmint.

A freestanding low stone wall, also of Ohio limestone, differentiates the elevated plateau of the home's outdoor space from the meadow. "The meadow has a large tree line – about a quarter mile across – that follows the bowl shape of a river corridor beyond," says Jones. "The characteristic of this field changes over time. It's a regional ocean in many ways – in the fall the grass is tall and waves when the wind blows across it." Along the long tree line beyond the meadow, Hollander planted hundreds of native dogwoods and redbud trees to provide color in the spring time for the otherwise dark woods. "The plantings both immediately around the house and on the edge of the woods help transition the landscape part of the property to its natural setting," he says.

On the west side of the house, the pool house is situated between the pool and a large oval garden. Low stone walls and white picket fences section off the entire area. "The pool house was set up to be a living and entertaining space away from the house," says Jones. "It has a direct relationship to the pool but it also has a loggia component and repeating column details that relate it back to the main house. It's also a room with sliding carriage-house doors that allow it to be permeable." To the south, the pool house opens to the loggia and the pool, which is surrounded by a stone walkway and a pergola of climbing roses and wisteria; the north side leads to an oval garden. "The simple oval walkway is made of gravel with a wooden edge that surrounds a lawn panel in the middle," says Hollander. "Around the edge of the garden are a series of flowers, perennials and shrubs that are in bloom from May through September, even into October, so the pool house becomes something that is not only used in the summer for the pool, but also a place to entertain and enjoy the gardens during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall."

Hollander planted a birch allée on the east side of the house to complement the long succession of rooms along the east/west axis. "A lot of what we do involves connecting the inside to the outside, as well as creating transitions," he says. "The birch allée takes the interior corridor and extends it out onto the landscape. At night, the allée illuminates to create a terminus for the views through the house and at the end of the allée there is a birch grove."

The project, completed in spring 2007, was a harmonious collaboration between the architect and landscape architect. The house transitions seamlessly into a landscape design that complements its natural surroundings. "Rather than looking at a property as though it is a house and then a garden, in this project the house is almost a component of the landscape," says Hollander. "The house sits in the landscape along with the driveway, terraces, pool and pool house and the garden paths. It's as if we started with a blank canvas and we created a composition that included all these elements, and that's what makes this project so successful."  

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