Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

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I have been sorting through old pictures today and found some nice pictures of architectural plants that I collected.

Glorious Springtime Wisteria

Vine Curtain

Nice Wall Vines with Wire (I think this one is gone…so maybe not such a good example)

Unintentional Deciduous Living Roof at the Post Office

This bit of fence, with a neat row of cactuses along it, reminded me of the cactus fence at frida kahlo's house in Mexico City

This bit of fence, with a neat row of cactuses along it, reminded me of the cactus fence at frida kahlo’s house in Mexico City

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I was very happy to see this recent project full of people enjoying the newly connected living spaces and yard. The owners also built several nice cabinets and shelving themselves. These are just phone snapshots of the space…..and yes it does look like they might need a new couch at some point. Turned out great! (Thanks Berkeley Craftsman)

Front parlor with hammock

Willa testing out the hammock

Family roomConnection to the yard

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I did these sketches a while back for a client who wanted to divide a shared yard and create more privacy

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Well's underground office entry

Appraisals make me grumpy. It seems brutal to reduce the value of a house to square footage, numbers of bedrooms, and whether the bathroom floor has tile. There are so many intangibles that contribute to the value of a house. For example the two large trees in front of my house that shade my bedroom in the summer with their dense greenery then turn bright orange yellow and red in the fall.  Of course there has to be some way to quantify a house’s worth for banks.

One guideline that seems pretty silly is the rule that square footage that is even slightly below grade is not counted as square footage.  This realestate agent’s article has some funny comments.  One guy actually seems to have hired a bulldozer to unearth his house so that he could qualify for a loan. Another homeowner determined that he has no square footage because his entire house is dug into the earth.

I thought of one of the inspirations of my youth, Malcolm Wells. He was an architect in Massachusetts who built most of his buildings underground.   Here are some of his words about this way of building (from his website):

“…By letting our structure hog all the sunlight wherever we go, we stamp out much of the natural riches of our land. Weather is not kind to building materials. They need to be protected by a blanket of earth. Otherwise, ice cracks the freeways, water rusts bridge structures, floods rage because water cannot soak into impervious ground….”

“…We live in an era of glitzy buildings and trophy houses: big, ugly, show-off monsters that stand—or I should say stomp—on land stripped bare by the construction work and replanted with toxic green lawns. If the buildings could talk they would be speechless with embarrassment, but most of us see nothing wrong with them, and would, given the opportunity, build others like them, for few of us realize that  there’s a gentler way to buildIt’s called underground.”

Here are some nice pictures of one of his houses

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cor-ten fence

On my way to buy a delicious vegan donut at Fellini Coffee Bar this morning I stopped to take a picture of this redwood and cor-ten steel fence and struck up a conversation with this lively 80-something year old woman. She asked whether I liked the fence, and was very interested in cor-ten steel when I explained its properties to her. She was curious why I was interested in this fence and whether I was an artist. When I told her I was an architect she was very excited and told me that architecture is her favorite thing. She grew up in the heart of Chicago in the 30s and 40s and developed a love for buildings. Chicago is rich in architecture and its people seem to take great pride in their built environment.  She now lives in the Strawberry Creek Lodge in Berkeley and is looking forward to the renovations and seismic retrofit that is scheduled for the building.  It was nice to meet someone who appreciates architecture as much as I do.

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My friend Matt is making progress on his little buildings! Here are a couple of older posts about the project:



It will be very nice to have the garden and patio between the main house and the small buildings with good southern exposure. (See site plan below)

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More info on this project can be found here:



New Burgee

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Built into a valley with steep hills all around, Bisbee has very interesting sectional properties (archi-speak for lots of level changes and three dimensional relationships between structures and spaces.) Every view is slightly different and the absence of significant trees makes the effects of the topography more dramatic.  In addition to the elevation changes the curving streets make things even more picturesque.

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I am going to treat you to a few days of pictures of this creative and historic town in Southeast Arizona. I climbed the hills in the late afternoon and enjoyed stunning views of the coppery mountains with houses in sun and shadow.  This first series captures some of the colors. As you can see, turquoise and green are popular colors.  Warm, rich reds, yellows, and oranges also are common choices.  Even the hills are many different colors. Some are vivid rusty red-orange, and others are a less flashy brown with green shrubs dominating the pallet.

Its a long walk up to this colorful hillside enclave. The late afternoon sunlight lights up the hillside and brings out the warm colors

This outdoor dining area is very festive with its colored lights and faded red painted fence. This color reminds me of an ancient pickup truck faded by the desert sun.

You should zoom in to see the intricate details of these copper entry gates. What a nice tribute to the history of Bisbee and its copper mines.

This slightly faded USPS mailbox nicely complements the green bench. Again, the desert sun quickly adds a nice patina to painted objects.

muted red and yellow house and walls with a sharp accent of bright yellow porch chairs

We saw a US Sailing sticker on the side window of this house. Clearly these people miss the ocean. I'm not sure the yellow and blue really jive with the surroundings, but perhaps that is intentional.

Green house with rusty roof looks good against the orange hill

Pale Turquoise

red cliff, pale turquoise mural

bicycle shop

plaid and art deco

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This was a collaboration with Matt Hornby Garden Design and Construction.

It wasn’t hard to improve upon the existing decks and yard, but the budget was a challenge.

These are before photos of the deck and yard:



This huge deck on the second floor didn’t even have real footings!

So the idea was to make the upper deck just big enough for a couple to sit and enjoy the evening, and to make a nice big lower level deck. the structure supporting the upper deck and the upper deck itself will help to create zones for different sorts of outdoor living. There is also a patio and a lot of garden that doesn’t appear in the sketch model.

sketchup model of the multi-layered landscape design

sketchup model of the multi-layered landscape design

railing sketch


Deck gone!


The middle post is actually not connected to the deck. It is for a pergola that will attach to the deck.


Now I’ll have to go back and visit to get some more photos of the finished project.

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The High Line in Manhattan is credited with generating over $2Billion of new investment and the creation of 20,000 jobs.

High Line fall 2010

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