Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hardscape Terracing

The stone is in – walkways, raised beds, cribstone benches and an installation by Daniel. While just finished Friday evening, it looks like it has been here for a long time. Before the snow comes, the plan is to install the steel raised beds and soil so that planting can happen in the spring.

Daniel’s installation is beautiful. It integrates well with the terraces and the surrounding context of fields – with meaningful resonances to this place and beyond. The form draws you in from afar – and helps to define the area in which it resides. The inspiration for the form is from Etruscan tombs where the corner corbelling supports the dome of the structure. I appreciate that inspirational provenance given my love of Italy and the classical period. The piece is also intended to evolve and grow over time – through the addition of stones that we pull from our gardens – as the stone pile just to the east of this piece did when the Graves brothers lived here a decade ago.

Throughout the project, I’ve tried to stay true to the character of this place.
That’s part of the power of living in a spot where memory is so ingrained. There
is an inherent responsibility that comes with living here to maintain the poetry of the Graves brother’s legacy and interweave our own story with this place and not run a museum, where we are only the care takers. This land is continually unfolding as is history, and an interesting thing to me is what the history of the landscape tells me about the Graves and how they lived here. I am eager to integrate our stories with the recollections of our neighbors and the continuing narrative of the landscape we inhabit here.


Cribstone Seating and Daniel's Installation

View from above


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Design Evolution

The terrace hardscape is close to completion – laying the flagstone has been quick in comparison to the wall building. This project has taught me much about communication, humility, and flexibility - all elements essential to design. More than anything else, I’ve learned that a plan represents the best possible outcome of informed decisions made with the inspiration of the site coupled with solid analysis. That said, moving into the reality of materials, earth, people and three dimensions ensures that design is an evolutionary process. Good design does not mean holding on to rendered ideas, but means moving past those ideas if they undermine or are incongruous with the initial intent of the project or the realities of the ground as the project is being built.

It takes additional measures of creativity and humility to devise an alternative solution that is more true to the context of the site and the intent of the project. Specifically, I was challenged by the stone ramp I had designed – that in the plan and model appeared to be appropriate and beautiful. Indeed, the built ramp was beautiful and reminiscent for me of parts of Ollantaytambo, a magical Incan Fortress near Cusco. However, as the entry to the garden, it was too steep and forbidding to invite people in to garden and welcome them to the space. The ramp evolved into a staircase. Instantly it became more inviting, and more coherent to the order already established throughout the installation. The change truly ties the space together and to a degree softens the entrance even with out the presence of plants.

Out there this morning, I am pleased with the evolution of this project so far. The stairs are elegant and welcoming. I appreciate them for the physical access they grant and for the developmental access they gave me to push beyond the limits of my previous experiences.

I would like to thank Dan and Jared for their hard work and artistry in helping me realize this part of the wall installation. Their dedication and professionalism are truly inspiring. 


Ramp Before
Stairs After