Photos: Jean Carnet of Carnet Communications
2017 Palladio Award Winner
Project: Colonial Revival Landscape
Winner: Land Plus Associates
Sited atop a ridge on 26 acres in the Buckhead community of Atlanta, Georgia, this 1920s Colonial Revival property once served as an Aymar Embury II-designed country house. The 1990s saw a substantial addition to the home in the form of a four-car garage with office space. That construction resulted in a disjointed landscape; the exterior spaces were not logically connected to the original terraced yard.
When first approached, Land Plus Associates found a fragmented property lacking clear direction and relationship to the main house. “My initial impression was that no one had considered addressing anything related to the site during the renovation in the 90s, except to design a driveway to get to the new garage,” says principal Alec G. Michaelides, ASL A.“ The landscape had fallen into further disrepair with the loss of several legacy trees immediately around the home.”
The challenge lay with bringing classical order to the exterior spaces while working within the framework defined by the existing architecture and terraces. The solution was to define circulation between terraces and exterior rooms by reorganizing them along axial lines, which, in turn, highlights prominent architectural features while also capitalizing on the views down to the flat lands by Nancy Creek.
“The original structural design of the site was well-conceived; we just needed to define, articulate, and refine these spaces,” notes Michaelides.
At the main entrance, soft- and hard- scape improvements were made along the 1,000-linear-foot driveway that approaches the house through a canopy of mature hardwoods lining the ridge. Additionally, a renovation of the existing arrival court replaced two 100-plus- year-old storm-damaged oak trees with 14-inch caliper red oaks. The work also included replacing an asphalt driveway with loose pea gravel, and reconstructing the existing Colonial-style wood perimeter fencing.
Using all-new landscape materials, the team created a formal parterre garden off the garage featuring a glass sphere and stainless steel fountain. “ The home- owner came to me with her selection for a fountain feature for her office garden,” recalls Michaelides. “ When she showed me the photo, she said, ‘I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone.’ Once I saw it, I knew I could work it to seamlessly fit the classical perennial garden.”
At the rear of the property, deteriorating cast stone balustrades were replaced; their repetition creates a rhythm that organizes the spaces. The addition of a swimming pool and new terraced retaining walls helped to address the steep existing slope. Central stairs leading from the main level terrace down to the entertaining lawn were widened to complement the large outdoor spaces. Likewise, the terrace itself was reconfigured to accommodate social events; on it are custom dry cast limestone planters.
The lower-level refurbished pool terrace includes a redesigned fountain wall composed of classical features, which serves as a focal point. The location and scale of pathways in combination with the places where retaining walls give way to steps create a crisscrossing of axial relationships that tie the landscape to the architecture. The result: exterior spaces that are as timeless as the house itself.