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Best Hardscape Project Winner: Steven Harris Architects


Best Hardscape Project Winner: Steven Harris Architects

August 20, 2014

The winner of the Gardenista Considered Design Awards Best Hardscape Project is Steven Harris Architects of New York City.

The firm’s California pool project was chosen as a finalist by guest judge Neisha Crosland, who said she loves “the way the pool cuts through the natural landscape like a sneaky alligator. The landscape is enhanced by the presence of the pool as much as the pool is enhanced by the fantastic landscape.”

Take a look below and read what project architect Eliot Lee has to say about the pool, part of his parents’ vacation house in Calistoga, California. 

N.B.: This is one of a series of posts spotlighting the winners of the Gardenista Considered Design Awards. We’ll be featuring one winning project every weekday. Go to the 2014 Considered Design Awards to see all the entries, finalists, and winners. And have a look at the winners of the Remodelista Considered Design Awards, too.

Steven Harris Architects’ Design Statement: This gunnite pool is semi-inground, situated on a ridge that overlooks Napa Valley. The top two feet of the pool wall rise above ground in a straight datum that contrasts with the natural topography of the slope. The 25-meter pool was designed as a lap pool, with a wooden planked bridge separating the main pool from a small reflecting pool at the end, which adjoins a stepped seating area. This shallow pool perfectly accommodates children. A rammed-earth wall that bounds the property ends at the head of the pool and is capped in a water feature designed by Brooklyn artist Peter Lane. The surrounding landscape, like that of the entire property, is planted with native species of trees and low-lying shrubs, including tanoaks, manzanitas, and madrones.

Q: What are your favorite features of the project?
As you move from one end of the pool to the other, you go from the expansive panorama to the intimate, almost room-like endpoint, carved into a stand of manzanitas and madrones. We’ve always liked this progression and its episodic quality. We’re also very happy with the way the sunken seating area turned out, thanks in large part to Rees Roberts + Partners [the in-house interiors firm of Steven Harris Architects].

Q: Where did you get your design inspiration?
In this case, we were very much inspired by the work of the artists who made up the land art movement of the 70s–Smithson, Heizer, et al. Also by Isamu Noguchi’s beautiful bronze scale models of his playground designs. 

Q: What were the hardest lessons you learned along the way?
That building a structure near large existing flora is not a task to be taken lightly. During construction, the large oaks and mature madrones required additional attention to keep them healthy–air spading of the root systems, etc. But ultimately, it was worth the extra effort.

Q: Who worked on the winning project?
Eliot Lee, a partner in the firm, designed the pool as part of his parents’ vacation house in Calistoga, California. 

Q: What does your firm specialize in?
Steven Harris Architects specializes in residential design, though we have experience in retail, recreational, and academic work as well.

Q: What is your best secret design source?
Because we design residences all over the world, we rely on a number of different contractors and fabricators to realize our designs.

Q: Which architects or designers do you admire?
Josep Antoni Coderch, Peter Harnden, Paul Rudolph, and Oscar Niemeyer. 

Q: What is your next project?
Houses in Sagaponack, NY; Kennebunkport, ME; and Westport, CT; and a residential tower in Pune, India.

Congratulations to Steven Harris Architects! See all the winners of the 2014 Gardenista Considered Design Awards here:

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