Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A photo essay for Landscapedia.com

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

I’d like to thank Michael at www.Landscapedia.com for this opportunity to submit this photo essay on a project that I worked on at Squaw Valley California which is adjacent to Lake Tahoe.

The clients that I collaborated with were old friends. We had previously done several projects together over the past 20 years so we had an established report.

The house at Squaw is a vacation home. It is lovingly used during the winter ski season and the summer boating and hiking season.
The homeowners expressed their desire to build a terrace that could be enjoyed all year round regardless of the heavy snow fall. For this specific reason we agreed that a built in snow melt system should be installed to keep the terrace and seating areas free from snow build up.
The heat coil hydronics system is installed in the stone seating and the stone flooring thus providing a snow shovel free patio.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

Dining and cooking alfresco was high on the wish list as well as a warm roaring fire to cuddle around on star lit evenings.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

There was the issue of privacy. In consideration for the neighbors who had a second story view into the newly developed area along with my clients own sense of exposure we knew that a privacy screen was required. During the course of the preliminary design meetings we came up with the idea of a metal crafted privacy screen that could weather the extreme weather conditions. A local metal smith , Mountain Forge in Truckee CA fabricated the screen out of copper and forged metal . It depicts the Squaw Valley mountain range beyond and even includes one of the ski lifts.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

After visiting the site to measure the existing site and building conditions and shooting the grades I presented the clients with three preliminary design sketches to get the design dialogue moving.
After much discussion we settled on the half round circular sitting area situated around the eco conscience gas fired fire ring.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

With the basic design intent determined I set forth in drafting up the construction documents.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

It was a given that my business partner, Miguel Chavez would be constructing the project.
He is a master stone mason with an articulate eye towards detail.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

During the construction the crew of 5 moved up to Squaw. They lived in the guest house above the garage during the week and I drove up on Fridays to review the weeks work and to solve any insitu concerns that may have arisen during the week.
It was a blissful 3 month long summer project.

As with many projects , there were some changes, additions and revisions during the construction.
We found that there would be a better pedestrian flow of traffic if the railing between the old deck and the new terrace was removed.
And a natural stone water feature was added much to everyone’s delight. It was the homeowners idea and it was a great one !
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

When discussing the surface treatment for the lower flat portion of the property we came to the conclusion that an artificial turf would be an excellent solution, it provides a maintenance free play surface for the kids and family dog.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

The planting scheme had to stand up to some pretty rough growing conditions. Squaw Valley receives a tremendous amount of snow and can have hurricane type wind.
The local grazing wildlife includes deer , copious bears ( who visited the job site several occasions ) and terrible little burrowing creatures.
I chose some natives along with some tried and true plants known for their successful performance in this high altitude location.
Some of the trees chosen were : Picea pungens ( Spruce), Abies (Fir) , Populus tremuloides ( Aspen), Acer palmatum ( Japanese Maple) , and Prunus ( flowering Plum)
Shrubs included Salix ( willow) , Physocarpus (ninebark), Spirea and Arctostaphylos ( kinnikinick berry ).
A drip irrigation system was installed.
From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

Out of courtesy for my clients a price for the installation is not available.

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California

From Squaw Valley Lake Tahoe California


Bill Kisich said...

Thank you for posting this, Michelle. It's a great opportunity for some to see the process and designers like myself to benchmark. I love your work.
The perspective sketches were very interesting. You didn't easy out with a couple of brief sketches. You provided three full on perspectives. I can see where your clients can really enjoy discussing the choices and really be able to visualize them. I'm jealous because my hand rendering is weak. Very nice work.


Jon said...

Your photo essay of this beautifully done project just leaves me in awe of your talents. I have a stupid question: how do landscape architects/artists like you "sign" your work upon completion? Do you carve your name and date into a stone or leave a bronze plaque? Or is the whole work your signature? Such wonderful and significant works like this one certainly deserve to be signed or marked in some manner. Clue me in please! My congrats on such a wonderful job...these clients should christen it with a bottle of champagne....or two...or three.

Jon at Mississippi Garden

Anonymous said...

What a stunning creation - thanks for sharing.

"Artificial turf" on the lower area? Like..astro turf? Never heard of/though of this for residential use.

Christopher M.

Deviant Deziner said...

Nice of you to have noticed the preliminary design sketches. I've been doing these perspective sketches since the beginning of my practice.
I find they help me visualize the concepts just as much as the clients.

I haven't figure a way to sign a landscape !
The plans have my signature though.
I guess the work just stands on its own.
I once worked with a stone mason from New Hampshire who carved his logo into his stone work.
I liked his idea.

Artificial turf is pretty popular in both residential and commercial landscape applications here in the arid regions of the west.
We are even given rebates by our water supply companies if we rip out our water hogging lawns and replace it with artificial turf.
The quality of the artificial turfs are amazing.
You can purchase some that even have built up brown colored thatch in it !

Thanks Bill, Jon and Anonymous for taking the time to express your comments.

Much appreciated.


Susan aka Miss. R said...

As usual Michelle - fascinating -even for one who does it every day. Your willingness to share ideas, thoughts, and hardcore information is so valuable to everyone. Thank you and Bravo!...again.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to misunderstandings...only been in country short distance...what is meanings "so we had an established report"?

Deviant Deziner said...

Translation : We had an established relationship of mutual understanding.

Helen @ Gardening With Confidence said...

You're garden mission statement is up at Gardening With Confidence - check it out http://tinyurl.com/cu9kdx and Thanks! Helen