American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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Site plan

Entry gate. Granite, oak, fir, and bronze (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
Entry drive through native vegetation (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
View across lawn terrace, defined by stone plinth, native meadow and red cedars beyond (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
View of house, lawn plinth and granite steps above meadow (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).

Stone Meadow, Martha's Vineyard, MA
Stephen Stimson Associates, Falmouth, MA

"Conceptualizes moving from the road to the tree edge through a series of meadows that manage the ecological transept. . . .extraordinarily understated, incredibly spacious . . .good proportions . . .landscape enhances the total composition . . . simplicity makes the emotional connection between the landscape and the visitor."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

This project is a single family home and guesthouse located on a six-acre site in Chilmark. The site is primarily open meadow, with rough stone walls bounding and dividing the site into three unequal parcels. The site slopes gently from a wooded northern edge to open meadow, with a wide view southwest to the Atlantic Ocean. A small house existed on the middle parcel and several very old stone buildings were integrated with the wall.

The landscape architects collaborated with the owners, who are collectors of modern art and have three young children, and the architect to site the main house, guesthouse, and pool. Located in the northern corner of the larger parcel, the main house was sited to take advantage of long views to the meadow and ocean. This location enabled the landscape architect to incorporate the existing vegetative context, hedgerows, meadow and wooden wetland, into the site design, thus reinforcing the existing landscape structure and integrating the house with the site.

The site entry gate of granite, oak, fir, and bronze hardware, was designed with staunch geometry reflecting the structure of the site design.

Fieldstone walls sustain a plinth to place the house creating a boundary between meadow and lawn. The majority of stones for these walls were salvaged from the existing site. The plinth was inserted into the hillside, limiting parking to a small, visually discrete area. The existing house (located in the middle parcel) was removed and a guesthouse was constructed. The stones of the old granite foundation were salvaged to construct the pool coping and retaining wall.

The landscape architect collaborated with a local sculptor and metalsmith to locate several events in the walls: a granite table to be used as a stage by the children, a sundial, and other carved pieces. Entry and service gates designed by the landscape architect were fabricated by local craftsmen, in granite, oak, fir, and bronze. The work of many other local artists is featured inside the house.

Planted forms were developed as hedgerows, orchard, and grove, to bolster the structure of the existing stone wall and create microclimates for wildlife habitats. The density of the existing red cedar and black locust hedgerows were increased to provide screening. Tupelos abutting the meadow were extended from the woodland edge into a natural swale in the meadow, to provide screening between the bedroom and the entry road. A beach plum orchard planted on the sloping meadow above the auto court and pool screens neighbors and visually links the main house landscape to the pool garden. A tall, curving privet hedge and stone wall with perennial borders complete the enclosure of the pool area. Several large deciduous trees were planted near the kitchen and family rooms for shade. The ocean view remains unobstructed, underlined by the long edges of the stone walls, flush with the lawn. Paths are mown through meadows, providing access to the beach through the undulating topography.

The design augments the strong natural features of the integration of an ambitious building and landscape program with the site. Native plant materials, preservation of existing meadows, and dry laid granite walls reinforce the original physical setting and link the built landscape to its greater context.


View from house of raised lawn defined by site walls and granite steps (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
Direct view into pool terrace: stone wall, granite steps, wave gate, and perennial border (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
Pool coping incorporates salvaged granite from site (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
View along wall that pierces privet hedge and becomes steps (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
A secret stair descends from the pool lawn through the privet hedge (photo: Charles Mayer Photography).
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