We had some good news around healthcare this year. In February, we were told it achieved a rating of Gold for a hospital we helped design. Way back in 2010, chambersdesign started working with WakeMed, a healthcare provider in Raleigh, NC to create one of the greenest hospitals in the world. With the news about our LEED rating we found out that the project is now one of only 15 to score so high on the planet.
As 2018 comes to a close, I thought it’s a good time to review the last 12 months. This year has been full of exciting clients, projects and experiences. Along with all of that, we also won an award from the US Green Building Council - New Jersey Chapter (USGBC-NJ) this year. I should have written about our success when first honored with the news, but I haven’t had time until now. Winning awards is always a great surprise and extremely humbling. They help gage whether or not the ideas and practices put into action through projects are making sense to the larger world. Design and construction are often so focused on the end results and juggling the many parts of the process that the wider conversation about ecology, urban design and nature are overlooked. However, receiving this award brings that all back into focus and gives me fuel for the future.
We all love a great patio or walkway. They command attention as well as lead you to the front door. The decisions you make about a hardscaping project will determine if it is sustainable or not. Contemporary design easily couples of ecological concerns. Together, they make magical places in a yard. But what makes a patio or walkway sustainable? Let me tell you in this blog.
Watch the first video of a series we are creating to help you Envision Your Dream Project. This video takes you through a few example of how to find ideas that can inspire you.
Last week, I posted a blog about selecting the right paver for your project by walking you through an active job I have. This week, I wanted to follow that up with how everything turned out. In my opinion, this is exactly how any project should go. It really is a full-scope design approach with excellent installation.
Front walkways are an amazing opportunity to refresh a yard. I have a project going right now that really reflects just how much of an opportunity a small project like this can make. It takes the right design, of course. It’s a great lesson on selecting the right materials and blending them with insight about your house and expressing who you are.
I’ve worked with several clients that have traditional styled houses that want a more contemporary look for the property. The exterior of a house has many options to make this easy to do. This blog goes over one project that has started the transition from old-fashion to clean & modern.
This week (on Nov. 15, 2018), we got a surprise snowstorm that blanketed our area. And I thought what a great opportunity to go find a few flowers still in bloom amongst the white flakes. One of the first places I thought I could go was one of our client’s yards to take some photos. To my delight, I found several flowers still in bloom. What’s better than a reminder of warmer days as the winter digs in? If you have ever wanted to create a garden where the colors of summer stay even into late autumn, then this blog entry is for you.
Most of my clients want more style in their lives. Style should make your life easier and more fulfilling. When it comes to landscape design, a master plan is an important step for turning that desire into reality. The best result is to showcase a sensibility that is about sustainability, materials, warmth and modern living. Landscape design enlivens any home. When done right, a master plan navigates decisions a project so that new and old elements of a home look awesome together. It does take time to think through all of the details. Of course, taking the time to do it correctly will pay for itself.
I wanted to do a quick update about the Rain Park. It’s been an amazing year for the project. We have built a huge group of volunteers and contributors. We saw it spring to life. As summer faded, we doubled our efforts to prepare for next year. Public projects like the Rain Park want to be a catalysis for new connections between people and nature. They foster real dialogue between different perspectives as well as help us relax. We are only at the beginning, and the future looks bright.
Another weekend, another Olmsted Park. This time, I found myself with my family in Echo Lake Park in Mountainside, NJ. I realize I’m late to the game in knowing the Olmsteds designed boatload of parks in northern New Jersey, but I’m excited about it anyway. The opportunity to see so many examples of late 19thand early 20thcentury park design is unique. Yet, public parks have had a rough history and many these incredible places show the scars.
This weekend, I took my family to Anderson Park in Montclair, NJ. It’s a beautiful park and a great example of how green spaces hold a unique place in city life both philosophically and literally. When I first found out about it, I was having coffee with a friend. The firm established by Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park. Though most famous for Central Park in Manhattan, Olmsted and his design studio left a legacy spread across the United States. The exact number of parks, campuses and private gardens he and his office completed is well within the thousands. A treasure trove of public parks dots New Jersey…something I didn’t know until I started doing a little research about Anderson Park. Now that I know there’s such a wealth these places, I want to explore them all…and blog about them. Which is why I’m writing about Anderson Park.
We had our unofficial first frost last night. It wasn’t the official, official first frost…that should be around Nov. 10ish. But last night we got a frost that hardly coated windshields and melted at the first sign of sunshine. This first frost marks an important moment in the changing of the seasons. It means that within just a couple more weeks all of the grasses and perennials in our gardens will go dormant and we won’t see them again till next spring. So now is the time to turn your sights on bring nature indoors to enjoy.
Colonial Modern Meadow
The last project I wanted to show exemplifies the opportunity for contemporary design with any style house. This project was master planned in 2015 to 2016. It took three phases over three years to implement entirely. The backyard was overgrown with trees. The trees had grown into the fence in several places and made it a haven for mosquitos. Mulch had been used as a way to define a play area and deal with weeds. During the master plan phase, we looked at hundreds of different options for patios, decks and plantings. The final design called for the backyard to turn into a wildflower meadow, replace an existing hardscape with a new patio and create an area for a vegetable garden.
The first example was a contemporary house that used contemporary landscaping. There aren’t as many modern houses on the market as other styles of homes. This example falls squarely into the more traditional residence type. It isn’t a true colonial but it is definitely in the colonial revival camp. When I met with the owners they were interested in adding a pool in their backyard. They wanted to do something that felt newer than the current look of the house.
The goal is to make this blog a resource for helpful tips and sustainable ideas. I create original content that shows projects in progress and the behind-the-scenes of installation. And, I try to have as much fun as I can doing it.