Curtis Park Residence

Summary

The Curtis Park Residence landscape was designed to reflect the vibrant neighborhood in which it sits. Curtis Park located north of downtown Denver, is a neighborhood that embraces its industrial heritage, celebrates art, community and creativity in a real and raw manner. The intent was to celebrate and honor that context with a fresh and modernist approach. The owner, a father of two daughters, wanted a pool, outdoor fireplace, outdoor dining, rock climbing wall, basketball court, lawn space, a rooftop garden and a dog run. The landscape architect was able to harmonize the indoor and outdoor spaces while complementing the modernist architecture with clean lines and geometric forms. To further honor the context of the site, the landscape architect worked to preserve trees, structural elements, and reuse brick from the original structure with a careful and refined approach. Walls made of the reclaimed brick frame the space while new concrete is interconnected with existing structures. Enveloped within those walls each area of the garden has its own unique and intimate feeling and purpose.

Narrative

The significance of this project is the truly unique aspect of each detail within. The client pushed the design team to approach the project with a fresh approach, each detail is based on instinct rather than precedent. Marrying the modernist design with the historical setting and materials presented a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of how to refine the use of reclaimed materials in a clean and contemporary manner. Developing a design that was thoughtful and reflective of the site while employing a modernist approach was a close collaborative endeavor between the landscape architect, architect and contractors.

The defining ethos of the design was led by the landscape architect and collaborated on by all participants. In initial design studies the owner contemplated subdividing the lot and developing the south half of the site. As the design progressed, the landscape architect convinced the owner of the unique opportunity the site presented to craft truly special and meaningful outdoor space for the home and the family. Along with creating an inspired context, the programming was extensive and required thoughtful site planning. The landscape architect strived to work collaboratively to refine and resolve project solutions to incorporate all of the elements requested by the owner.

Throughout the design process the landscape architect led the site planning, layout and grading, ensuring to carefully preserve existing trees and the 100 year old foundation walls of elements being sought to be preserved on the site. The landscape architect fully designed and detailed each exterior element, including the pool, poolhouse, firepit, basketball court, rooftop garden with undulating turf landforms, lighting and planting plans. Pressed with a tight budget, the landscape architect had to work hand in hand with the contractor to adapt and provide thoughtful details and construction methods. Each design element required extensive collaboration and close coordination with the architect, masons and landscape contractors to develop and refine the detailing to ensure the overall intent of the project was met.

Being set in Denver, a city with a growing modern design vernacular that has a heritage of mid-century and international architectural design styles from the 1930s-1960’s, The Curtis Park project set out to create a residence that was modern but born of its context. The design team and the client continually asked “does this design represent the Curtis Park neighborhood, is it something that can only be found on this site?” This led to an authenticity and richness in the overall design, the modern elements were carefully interwoven with existing elements in a refined manner.  Sitting at the crossroads of a residential community and thriving and busy arts district, the bounds of the site were pivotal to balancing the need for privacy while embracing and honoring the raw industrial urban setting. The East side of the property is exemplary of this, where the 120 year old walls constructed of brick, concrete, and wood adorned with graffiti were carefully preserved and tied into new concrete walls. The result provided privacy from the alley while creating a mosaic of color and texture that tells the story of the site. Doors, windows and structures such as the old coal storage from the late 1800’s were also preserved onsite and unified by the concrete wall which defined the datum for the basketball court and pool house. While on the south-west side of the property a wall was constructed with reclaimed brick from the previous residence with dry set mortar to enhance the character of the brick and elevate the pattern. By contrast the rooftop terrace was created using synthetic turf to create a sinuous landform set on high-density foam flanked by Ipe decking with inset pin lights for nighttime stargazing. The overall project was a push and pull of the juxtaposition of the modernist design within the historical and vibrant setting. Pushing at each turn to craft a project that embraced the craft and creativity of modern design while being constantly informed by its setting.

Plant List

Ornamental Grasses

‘Morning Light’ Maiden Grass

Blue Lyme Grass

 

Deciduous Trees

Quaking Aspen

Swedish Columnar Aspen

‘Shademaster’ Honeylocust

Northern Catalpa

Documents and Media

Planning Docs (if applicable):

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