Set on twelve acres, this residential property features a 1927 estate house set within towering groves of mature existing trees. The concept of the site design was to build a display setting for the owner’s expansive blue-chip sculpture collection. The Landscape Architect collaborated closely with the artists and their foundations to find or create the ideal placement of each piece.
The overall effect of the property is transforming as one moves from space to space viewing the variety of artwork. Sun and shade are manipulated through the placement of trees to create balance and variation, as well as a layering of spaces both enclosed and implied.
In this update of a classic estate, the clients retained the 1927 residence but commissioned LDG to completely redevelop the twelve-acre landscape. Notably, conventional features such as rose, cutting, and vegetable gardens were replaced with a series of tableaux to display the owners extraordinary collection of contemporary art. For the LaGuardia team, the challenge was to differentiate the respective areas while still respecting the existing collection of mature trees and observing the owners requirement that the views of the various artworks should not overlap. Full-sized mock-ups of the artworks were fashioned out of plywood and moved about the settings to finalize placement before footings for the bases were poured.
One exception to the rule of viewing only one sculpture at a time was observed. A monumental granite sphere by sculptor Walter De Maria is clearly visible from the Corten steel boxes that sculptor Richard Serra created as a tribute to his late friend.
Distinguishing the different areas was accomplished in part by adjusting the different areas was accomplished by adjusting the grade. The swimming pool and surrounding area were sunken so that the view from the house should not be of the required, four-foot-tall surrounding fence. The LDG design team also deployed the plantings judiciously. Of course, the plantings also help to emphasize the themes and set the tone. A garden designed by Edwina Von Gal, for example, which is dedicated to displaying works by sculptor Isamu Noguchi, is tucked into a grove of ginkgo trees which are remarkably sculptural themselves as well as conveying an Asiatic theme. The pavilion that provides weather-safe viewing for this area, is fashioned from Alaskan cedar connected with an intricate Japanese-inspired joinery that includes no metal fasteners.
The planting serves pragmatic purposes as well. The De Maria sphere is set on the apex of a mounded wildflower meadow that drains on all sides into rain gardens planted with moisture-loving natives such as swamp white oaks and witch hazel. One of the most challenging, but also fascinating, parts of this project was the creation of Lay of the Land, a landform sculpture by Maya Lin. This sinuous, 385-foot long sculpture was actually created not once, but twice. First, it was painstaking mocked up with waste soil, and carefully measured as a drainage plan was worked out. Then the full-sized model was removed and the final installation assembled, complete with drainage, precisely to the measurements and sodded. Art is not only intrinsic to this landscape; at least in this instance, it is the landscape.
In the new configuration of the property, the road along which the approach is made is hidden by plantings of native vegetation. The arrival sequence proceeds from the end of the driveway into a carport, from which visitors ascend to an entry court dominated by a six-foot-high wall over which flows a sheet of water; this is the outside of the elevated pool, but the pool itself is invisible. A second staircase, a series of three rises and a landing, leads to the house, through a grove of crape myrtle trees. A turn to the right around a planter puts visitors in the pool terrace; framed in French limestone, this provides a view of the ocean.
On the ocean side of the house, twelve feet of sand were added both to reinforce the dune and to make the house feel more connected to the landscape and beach. A sculpture by Bernar Venet of weathered steel set into the top of the replenished dune helps to focus and frame the ocean views. Planters were installed to modulate the transition from architecture to planting. An oceanside seating area has a view of a meadow of beach grass rather than the beach. The sound of the surf, however, furnishes a soothing background to this serene spot.
Landscape Architecture: LaGuardia Design Group
LDG Team: Chris LaGuardia, Ian Hanbach
Project Location: Bridgehampton, NY
– 2019 New York ASLA Honor Award
– 2018 HC&G Innovation in Design Award
– TCLF Garden Dialogs
– Wall Street Journal
– Gluckman Tang Architects Viewing Pavilion in the De Maria Garden
– Peter Pennoyer Architects Designers
– Edwina von Gal – Noguchi Garden
– Maya Lin Studio – Lay of the Land
– Marders Landscaping
– Wright & Company Construction Inc.
– Loebs & Gordon Poolcraft
– Hamptons Tennis Company
– Tebbens Steel
– LERA Consulting Structural Engineers
– Southampton Engineering
– Orsman Design
– Blue Square Design
– Eric Striffler
– Anthony Crisafulli