Alwavs Been

Vi liv did designing the W ashington Monument grounds have to wait

IT SEEMS INEVITABLE that the grounds of the Washington Monument would someday be like this.

The slight rise on which the monument was originally erected has been sculpted into a shallow earthen dome. Elliptical paths ascend this rise in a spatially dynamic manner that is consistent with the baroque urbanism of Pierre L'Enfant's 1791 plan for the capital district. The smooth ground laid out in repose amplifies the iconic minimalism of the tapered obelisk.

It is as if it has always been—yet it took more than 120 years. And without the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, as well as the hijacking of Flight 93 on September 11, 2001, the monument would still be standing in an unstructured landscape, on misshapen ground, with an array of spotlights, makeshift structures, and concrete barriers (placed after the domestic terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City) cluttering and degrading America's tribute to our first president. Because of the 9/11 attacks, however, Rinding emerged and the renovation of the monument grounds was initiated as a security project by the National Capital Region of the National Park Service and funded by the U.S. Congress, which had, until then, rejected funding proposals for the monument grounds for more than a century.

The misshapen and cluttered grounds of the monument are finally resolved by OLIN (formerly Olin Partnership) with a boldness and clarity that make the solution seem to have been obvious all along. Yet, as with many urban landscapes, the renovation of the monument grounds was bundled into a project that was not initiated from the idea that the design of landscapes in cities—even one as prominent as this—is, in and of itself, an enterprise of merit.

Why can't the design of landscapes such as this be commissioned without being initiated by security measures—and why did it take 120 years and the prospect of a terrorist destroying the monument (or using it as a sniper's position) to complete this

landscape? Why can't we fund and construct landscapes because they are socially, culturally, and spatially essential to great cities?

Ti ie plan for ti ie original Washington Monument, an 1836 competition won by Robert Mills, included a Greek Revival pavilion wrapping the base of an obelisk. Construction took from 1848 to 1885, as it was prolonged by financial shortfalls and the Civil War. The effort was so challenging politically, economically, and technically (the monument was the tallest state-

The orange fencing and Jersey barriers, opposite, were banished by the redesign. Vertical elements on the grounds were rigorously limited to the monument itself and the 50 flagpoles that encircle the obelisk, here cure in rhe world at the time of its completion and remained so until it was surpassed by the Eiffel Tower) that the project ended with the completion of only the obelisk.

Subsequent unbuilt plans for the grounds include Andrew Jackson Downings Monument Park, a study in elliptical path compositions, and the McMillan Plan of 1901, which proposed a monumental terrace that spanned the entire width of the National Mall. More recently, Dan Kiley's planting proposal from 1965, in association with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), structured fr«IMMMWW

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the landscape with orderly grids of canopy trees and an understory of cherry trees that drifted out into the area around the monument. Despite all these grand plans, John Parsons, FASLA, the former assistant regional director of the National Park Service who directed the project, says that "the pile of dirt that the Army Corps of Engineers dumped on the site in 1890 was the same pile of dirt that was there until five years ago."

The new plan emerged from a hastily convened invited competition of four landscape ar-

The plan of the monument grounds from the competition, above, shows the geometry of the paths that circumnavigate and ascend the shallow earthen dome on which the monument now stands. The let- § ters correspond to photos in this article, showing the | corresponding views from those locations. The grad- I ing and planting plan, left, includes localized anom- ° alies that preserve the grading around a specimen £ mulberry tree southwest of the monument.

The competition schemes by (top to bottom] Diana Balmori, Balmori Associates, with David

Childs, SOM; Arnold Associates with Tsao + McKown; and Michael van Valkenburgh Associates included security screening and a visitors center that were later eliminated from the project. The new grounds replace haphazard paths and drives, bottom left, with a clear organization.

The competition schemes by (top to bottom] Diana Balmori, Balmori Associates, with David

Childs, SOM; Arnold Associates with Tsao + McKown; and Michael van Valkenburgh Associates included security screening and a visitors center that were later eliminated from the project. The new grounds replace haphazard paths and drives, bottom left, with a clear organization.

chicects in November 2001: Henry Arnold, fasla, with Tsao + McKown Architects; Diana Balmori, Balmori Associates, with David Childs, som; Laurie Olin, fasla, with Hartman/Cox Architects; and Michael Van Valkenburgh, fasla. The quick-fix solution that preceded the competition, which was unable to gain design review approval at any level, was to install bollards at 40 inches on center in the grass halfway up the existing slope. It was clear, Parsons believed, that it was necessary to seek the expertise of nationally recognized landscape architects—who, it should be noted, have rarely been the lead professionals working on the National Mall.

"Architects make architecture," says Parsons, and he hoped that the problem of security could be solved with manipulation of the landscape rather than the addition of structures. The invitations were therefore given only to landscape architects, who had just 30 days to deliver the competition proposals due to the perceived urgency of the security threats. The competition resulted in a close contest between the proposals by Olin and Balmori. The Olin scheme was selected in December 2001 only after the National Park Service acted as the tiebreaker for the divided review panel of agency representatives and blue-ribbon professionals. The decision came down to the preference for the landscape-based

A granite wall that recalls Olmsted's robust wall on the grounds of the Capitol Building, here, defines the toe of the slope and barricades against vehicles approaching the monument. Laurie Olin's sketch, below, shows how his design borrowed from the ha-ha wall concept.

A granite wall that recalls Olmsted's robust wall on the grounds of the Capitol Building, here, defines the toe of the slope and barricades against vehicles approaching the monument. Laurie Olin's sketch, below, shows how his design borrowed from the ha-ha wall concept.

solution of Olin's over the slightly more architectural solution of Balmori's. The project opened to the public in July 2005—more than four years after the competition—without the security checkpoint and underground tunnel to the base of the monument that had been part of Olin's original design (see "Invisible Barriers," Landscape Architecture, September 2002).

Concurrent with the design of the Washington Monument grounds, Olin was working on two similar projects. "My obelisk

period," he laughs, included the renovation of Columbus Circle in New York (ASLA Design Merit Award, 2006), where a traffic roundabout was transformed into a vibrant meeting place at the southwest comer of Central Park, and the renovation of the Memorial to Martyrs at Targu-Jiu, Romania, a commemorative path of sculptures by Constantin Brancusi that terminates with the hilltop sculpture The Endless Column. With these contemporaneous projects, Olin studied sequences of approach and the relationship of horizontal surface and vertical staicture.

Olin cited Karl Popper's Open Society audits Enemies in declaring one of his primary objectives in the design. He insisted that a family—or a carload of students—visiting Washington, D.C., for the first time should be able to arrive at the monument, even at two o'clock in the morning, and walk directly up the hill to jiat the base of the obelisk that honors the first president. The physical act of commemoration— to touch the thing—was fundamental to Olin.

Of great concern to Olin was reducing the vertical elements in the landscape to only two: the monument itself and the 50 flagpoles that surround it. To achieve this, the usual cluttering array of light poles, handrails, signs, and historical markers had to be suppressed. The profusion of text that is usually present at such sites is also reduced so one can actually concentrate on real things—the structures and spaces of the site. The paths are slightly recessed into the

ground to aid the visual continuity of the lawn and, because they are designed with an accessible slope of 4.5 percent, do not require handrails as would be necessary with steeper paths that might directly ascend the hill. There are no retaining walls that require guardrails, and the installation of ground-mounted lights eliminated light poles. Again, in an era that seems to celebrate adding "stuff' into landscapes, the restraint in this project is remarkable: one monument, 50 flagpoles, three paths, one wall, a ring of benches, and a very shapely mound of lawn.

The project also includes about 100 trees of mixed species that add mass at the edges of the grounds. Olin's notable restoration of Kiley's cherry groves from the 1965 plan is a gracious gesture to history and a reminder to designers that good ideas, even by others, are worth coming back to.

FOR THOSE INTERESTED in the space-making potential of landscape form, the earthen plinth of the Washington Monument is to be celebrated. In an age of micrograding design, when small teardrop-shaped earthworks reveal hydrological action or where obliquely tilted planes activate the surface of landscapes, the construction of the Washington Monument landscape reenergizes the proposition that large-scale earthworks can also create space in cities.

The interlocking ellipses of the paths that encircle the Washington Monument remind me oi the complex urban geometries of

Olin was working on two other obelisks: Columbus Monument in New York, above, and the Endless Column in Targu-Jiu, Romania, below, at the same time as the Washington Monument grounds. The security screening for entrance into the monument remains in a small hut at the base of the obelisk, bottom.

Olin was working on two other obelisks: Columbus Monument in New York, above, and the Endless Column in Targu-Jiu, Romania, below, at the same time as the Washington Monument grounds. The security screening for entrance into the monument remains in a small hut at the base of the obelisk, bottom.

Piazza San Pietro, the forecourt to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Following the mathematical and scientific advances of Copernicus and Galileo, among others, the circular geometries of the Italian Renaissance gave way to the ovals of the late Renaissance and the orbital ellipses of the baroque. It is from this later period that Pierre L'Enfant's plan for America's new capital district emerged, and it is this period of geometric and spatial invention that is the heritage of the new earthen dome of the grounds of the Washington Monument. The geometries of the new grounds are more sympathetic to L'Enfant's baroque conception of monumental D.C. than that of the influential City Beautiful-era McMillan Plan. The work also falls into a continuum of notable monumental earthworks such as Asplund and Lewerentz at Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm, Sweden, and the work of Olin's teacher, Rich Flaag, FASLA, at Seattle's Gas Works Park.

The design of the grounds is really a "mitosis" plan of two ellipses encircled by a single, larger one. According to Olin, the plan of the two elliptical paths that ascend to the monument was derived by a technique that has been employed by landscape architects for generations. After determining the vertical rise and a fixed accessible slope of 4.5 degrees, a length of string was cut and laid on a scale plan and quickly manipulated. The ellipses emerged out of this simple device.

The project also draws from the 18th-century English landscape design to establish a secure perimeter around this iconic

The elliptical paths, above, reinforce the baroque urbanism of Pierre L'Enfant's original plan for the city. The Washington Monument is surrounded by haphazard roads and paths in an early aerial photograph, below, that also shows temporary buildings on the Mall during World War I. Ninety years later, the grounds were hardly improved.

American structure. Below the monument, at a "setback" distance that is safe from truck bombs, is a stone wall that encircles the bottom of the hill and serves to prevent vehicles from approaching. The wall is 400 feet from the monument—rather than just the 200 feet required—so that it would nestle into the toe of the slope. This wall, derived from the ha-ha that separated manor grounds from grazing pastures without interrupting sweeping views across the landscape, follows the elliptical paths at the base of the hill and pinches together where the paths begin to ascend the hill. The pinching establishes a threshold that allows visitors to enter onto the hill while keeping vehicles safely away. Olin is adept at accommodating human comfort in landscapes, so it is not surprising that the wall, which would be uncomfortably tall due to security height criteria, is enhanced with a low, wide curb at its base that makes the height of the wall comfortable for sitting, especially for those watching soft-ball games at the adjacent fields.

Nevertheless, the project's construction was not free of problems. At a site meeting when the granite pavement at the base of the monument was being installed, Olin saw that the mitered corners of the pavement failed to meet the precise corners of the monument as required in

The elliptical paths, above, reinforce the baroque urbanism of Pierre L'Enfant's original plan for the city. The Washington Monument is surrounded by haphazard roads and paths in an early aerial photograph, below, that also shows temporary buildings on the Mall during World War I. Ninety years later, the grounds were hardly improved.

the drawings. "How do you miss that?" Today, careful scrutiny of the installed pavement discloses a subtle change in pattern where the reluctant contractor inconspicuously remedied the error.

"O

lin's design for the monument grounds, while modest, is quite skillful," says G. Martin Moeller, curator of the National Building Museum. "Seen from the perimeter of the monument grounds, the slender ring that Olin added does provide a minimal but welcome visual base for the obelisk. Meanwhile, the curving ramps that lead pedestrians to the monument itself allow for a more dignified approach than the seemingly accidental paths that preceded them."

"From the north you get a completely natural vista—no buildings in sight," says Washington, D.C., architect Robert Sponseller, "just landform and monument against the sky and treetops."

The National Mall—America's front yard—is a fiercely contested landscape burdened with local and national interests. It also represents the many public landscapes that have unnecessarily languished from inaction, that have been calcified by timidity, that have suffered from poorly scaled spaces, or that have been construct-ed with materials that do not endure. Here, however, is an example of urgency giving rise to aclient seeking expertise from accomplished professionals to design a long-neglected site that also happens to be one of the most prominent in the nation.

There may be no more noble and more challenging design problem than to design public spaces and landscapes in America. It is not the towering office buildings, the august museums, the domed government buildings (or the domed sports stadiums), or the houses of worship that constitute Americans' common ground.

If American highway and utility infrastructures are in need of renewal, then certainly the same can be said for public spaces. These surely call for the same urgency, determination, and expertise gathered at the Washington Monument to accomplish in 2005 what had languished for 120 years.

Ron Henderson, ASLA, is founding principal ofL+A Landscape Architecture in Providence, Rhode Island, and associate professor of landscape architecture at Tsiright/a University in Beijing, China,

PROJECT CREDITS Client: National Park Service. Funding: United States Department of the Interior. Landscape architect: Olin Partnership (now OLIN), Philadelphia (Laurie Olin, FASLA, partner; E. Allan Spulecki, ASLA, and Kate John-Alder, ASLA, project landscape architects; Matt Chu, ASLA, Xiaodi Zheng, ASLA, Chris Grey, Bryan Suchy, Hallie Boyce, Les Bishop, and Frank Gamier, project team). Blast consultant Applied Research Associates Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lighting design: Fisher Marantz Stone, New York. Structural engineer: James Madison Cutts LLC, Washington, D.C. Wayfinding and signage consultant Joel Katz Design Associates, Philadelphia. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineer Joseph R. Loring & Associates Inc., New York. Irrigation consultant Lynch & Associates Limited, Annapolis, Maryland. Soils engineer Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, New York. Civil engineer Wiles Mensch Corporation, Reston, Virginia. Architect for the competition: Hartman Cox, Washington, D.C. General contractor Grunley-Walsh, Rockville, Maryland. Masonry contractor Lorton Stone, Springfield, Virginia. Planting contractor Davey Tree Expert Co., Chantilly, Virginia. Lighting contractor Cole Lighting, South El Monte, California, and MUSCO, Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Generously scaled Georgia marble benches define the summit of the hill and comfortably accommodate foot-weary mall visitors.

Generously scaled Georgia marble benches define the summit of the hill and comfortably accommodate foot-weary mall visitors.

USAN SULLIVAN AND CONNELL COWAN have been together for more than 20 years. They never did have any children. Instead, their relationship produced a garden. "For the two of us, this was our offspring," Sullivan says. "[The project] was an interesting adventure into what he wants and what I want. It was a bonding experience that we both enjoyed immensely."

Sullivan is an actress, best known for her roles on Falcon Crest and Dbarma & Greg. Cowan is a psychologist, author, and artist. They live in Los Angeles, but during the 1990s, they purchased a beach house near Santa Barbara, California. The house is located on a private road that is built out with houses on only one side. The front yards of these houses look out on the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve and the mountains in the distance, and their backyards offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands. The area has long functioned as a weekend retreat with

Susan Sullivan and Connell Cowan relax in their garden, opposite, which looks out on the Pacific Ocean. The rear garden, above, called Dune Room, uses plants native to California's coastline.

modest cottages; however, some of these homes have recently been replaced by large mansions.

The couples house, a modernist design from the 1960s, was originally a mere 900 square feet—a bit too small for them—but rather than knocking it down and starting from scratch, they worked with locally based Neumann Mendro Andrulaitis Architects to remodel and expand it. In 1999, while the house was still under construction, Van Atta Associates, a firm in nearby Santa Barbara, was hired to work on the surrounding landscape—a set of gardens that it calls Two Pacific Rooms.

Van Atta Associates strives to create projects that are both beautiful and sustainable. For many years, the firm has worked on habitat restoration projects throughout the area. It did restoration work at the adjacent Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, and its design for Lagoon Park, another wetland restoration project that integrates social spaces, won an ASLA Honor Award in 2008. Before pursuing a career in landscape architecture, the firm's founder,

Susan Sullivan and Connell Cowan relax in their garden, opposite, which looks out on the Pacific Ocean. The rear garden, above, called Dune Room, uses plants native to California's coastline.

\ seaside garden in Southern California has gone through a pnmher nf nhap{p as thft owners make it their own.

By Daniel Josi, Associate asea

The house, outlined in blue, below, sits on a narrow lot between a marsh and the ocean. Unlike the rear garden, Van Atta Associates designed the interior courtyard to have strong geometric forms, right. The front entry, above, hints at the garden beyond. Parts of the entry were redesigned by Sullivan and

Cowan after a multistem tree that was a major part of the Van Susan Van Atta, ASLA, earned a degree in environ- Atta Associates design for that mental studies, and she is currently writing a book area, left, was lost in a windstorm, about gardening with California natives. But her influences are varied—everything from gardens she visited in Japan to nearby Disneyland.

Residential design makes up a little less than half of the firm's work. While Van Atta's commercial and institutional clients are expressing a greater interest in sustainable design, she says that few of her high-end residential clients are asking for it. Sullivan and Cowan were more interested than most and actually requested some naturalistic native plantings.

These photos show the path through the interior courtyard before any improvements were made, above, as it was designed by Van Atta Associates, below, and as it is today, left. Since the courtyard was constructed, the tree near the door was lost in a windstorm and the owners have replaced the black mondo grass in the outer ring so that the ring is now entirely chipped slate.

These photos show the path through the interior courtyard before any improvements were made, above, as it was designed by Van Atta Associates, below, and as it is today, left. Since the courtyard was constructed, the tree near the door was lost in a windstorm and the owners have replaced the black mondo grass in the outer ring so that the ring is now entirely chipped slate.

But the plantings aren't all naturalistic or native. At Two Pacific Rooms, the garden rooms reference the two shores of the Pacific Ocean. Zen Room, the courtyard between the garage/guest room and the main house, combines strong geometric forms with an Asian flavor. Dune Room, which has views out to the Pacific Ocean, has a more natural look with plants native to California's coastline. These two rooms don't just have different looks to them; they are experienced differently. As the firm wrote in a recent awards submittal, one is a "space to see" and the other is a "space to be."

Zen Room

Sullivan and Cowan played a large role in imagining their new landscape, both its major themes and its details. "One of the things I really love about this garden is the red door," says Van Atta. "That was their idea." The red front door, which serves as a gate to the interior courtyard, is one of the first things you see as you approach the house. In both the front yard and the interior courtyard, it acts as an important accent in the landscape.

The area in front of the house—a field of gravel edged with plantings along the property lines—is beautiful in its simplicity. As you walk over the irregularly placed pavers that lead toward the front door, carefully positioned rocks on either side of the entrance and a clump of bamboo provide hints of the garden beyond.

Moving through the doorway and into the courtyard, you enter through a narrow hall. The path is straight, and the pavers are arranged in a pattern that is more commonly found with flagstone pavers than the concrete pavers used here. Two types of bamboo— one on either side of the path—obscure the wall of the garage/ guest room and screen the neighbor's fence.

As the space opens up, a narrow ring of chipped slate edged with concrete curbing intersects the path. A small grouping of rocks interrupts the ring, softening the space's strong geometric character and acting as a counterpoint to a simple rock sculpture at its center.

Photographs show the interior courtyard area before the garden was designed, opposife lop, as it was designed by Van Atta Associates, below, and as it is today, Ifere. The plantings around the sculpture h<rye~bgen simplified by the owners.

The plans for the sculpture, designed by Cowan, evolved considerably over the course of the project. Cowan originally imagined the sculpture as a group of concrete columns with water flowing over them, but Sullivan convinced him to go in a more natural direction. "I didn't want to undercut Connell's creative vision, but I was worried I was going to walk by it and hate it," she explains. So instead of concrete, Cowan chose three pieces of basalt and arranged them so they have a familial feel. Paul Lindhard, a sculptor familiar with the porous volcanic rock, helped execute the design, setting the stones to Cowan's specifications. Pipes were installed to produce a weeping effect.

Two myoporum trees that already grew in this area were preserved, and they flank the sculpture on either side. These trees, which have a sculptural character themselves, frame views along the path. Their silvery-white trunks contrast with the dark green and black-stemmed bamboo and the red door. From certain vantage points, it appears as though one of the trees is growing up through Cowan's sculpture; however, the trees actually obscure views of the sculpture as you approach it from the entry.

The California Invasive Plants Council labels myoporum an invasive, but it is not as problematic as many other species given this title. It does not spread much vegetatively or by wind; its primary method of spreading is by birds eating its fruit. Van Atta says that while she never plants the species, she decided to leave it here for a few reasons: It's very hard to get anything treelike to grow in that environment; the species is planted as a screen on almost every nearby property; her work in the nearby salt marsh involved removing myoporum, but it was not aggressively taking over that environment and most of what was there was obviously planted to screen an adjacent railroad; and the trees were old and didn't (lower or fruit much anymore, so they didn't strike her as an ongoing hazard.

An oversized glass door connects the guest bedroom to the garden and turns it into a meditative space, reminiscent of the viewing areas in some traditional Japanese gardens. The bedroom is really the only place to linger within the garden; the garden is mainly experienced as the entry procession into the main house.

large wave to ground the structure and hide its unattractive concrete supports.

large wave to ground the structure and hide its unattractive concrete supports.

Dune Room

At the top of the stairs, a narrow pathway alongside the house leads to the rear yard. There, the couple requested more naturalistic plantings that reference the adjacent salt marsh and places to sit and look out on the ocean. Two terraces are connected by a simple sand path that winds through a bed of native plantings. Hedges near the property line screen the garden and enclose the space to make it feel like a room.

Many of the neighboring properties have lawns in the backyard, a difficult feat in this soil, which is nearly pure sand. Planting a lawn here requires extensive remediation to the soil and constant irrigation. But instead of changing the soil, Van Atta used native plants that would thrive in the soil that was there and require little additional water.

Sea pink (Armeria maritima) highlights the edges of the sand path. Farther from the path, the plantings are dominated by blue wildrye (I^eymm condensatus 'Canyon Prince'). Van Atta notes that

As you proceed toward the house, you walk up a stairway that bridges a reflecting pool lined with smooth pebbles. The front of the main house is cantilevered over the reflecting pool to make the house feel as if it is floating on water, an idea Cowan suggested. The pool helped to solve one of the problems facing the landscape architects—how to disguise the fact that the main house was sticking up in the air. Though the cottage is protected by a breakwater, building codes required that the residence be raised a number of feet above sea level so high waves can crash beneath it. Van Atta Associates also designed Cor-Ten steel panels that will break away under the pressure of a

this cultivar was actually discovered by the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on one of the Channel Islands, which are just offshore. Other regionally native plants found within this area include beach morning glory (Calystegia microstegia), maritime ceanothus (Ceanothus maritimus), beach suncup (Camissonia cheiranthifolia), and seaside daisy (Erigeron glaucus). These plants stabilize the dune while tolerating the salty winds that blow off the ocean.

While, as Sullivan notes, the garden isn't big enough to meander through, it provides a number of places to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Large floor-to-ceiling glass doors make a rectilinear patio, designed by the architects, feel like an extension of the house. The surface of the patio is raised to allow water to flow beneath it. Furnishings include two comfortable loungers and a table for eating outside. The furniture is all white, and it contrasts nicely with the gray color of the house. Four large pots are used as accents. Sullivan and Cowan are currently planting them with a type of restio (a group of grasslike plants native to Africa).

Van Atta Associates designed the more irregularly shaped concrete patio that is tucked into the rocks at the top of the breakwater. Here, you are able to sit and look out over the beach. A small fireplace is protected from the wind, making it a comfortable space to catch the sunset, even as the temperature drops. The surface has a salt finish, which looks more at home in this intimate garden than in the big-box retail outfits throughout the Southwest where it is commonly seen. Concrete steps allow you to descend to the beach for swimming, surfing, or a quiet walk.

Fine-Tuning by Owners

The gardens were designed and completed nearly 10 years ago, but only recently bestowed with an Honor Award by ASLA's Southern California chapter. Over that time there have been some changes—changes to the garden itself and changes to the way that Van Atta Associates approaches sustainable design.

Some of these changes were caused by natural forces beyond anyone's control. Four trees were originally preserved in the design, but recently two of these were lost in a windstorm that took down trees all along the coast. In the front yard, where one of the trees was an important part of the design, it led Sullivan and Cowan to rethink parts of that area. "If you move one thing, you have to move 20 other things to make that all work," says Sullivan. "It was sort of like we lost our design, yet a new design came out of it."

Other things have been changed by Sullivan and Cowan to better suit their tastes. The plantings in the Zen Room were originally much more complex. When Van Atta Associates first designed the area, it specified three rings of plantings surrounding Cowan's sculpture, not just the mondo grass and chipped stone there today. There was originally a ring of scotch moss at the base of the sculpture, a ring of green mondo grass, and, in part of the more defined ring where the chipped slate is today, there was black mondo grass (Ophiopogon 'Nigrescens'). After a few years, the owners decided to simplify this on their own. "It was too much in too small of a space," explains Cowan. Also, "I wanted that

"THE ONLY SUCCESSFUL GARDENS ARE GARDENS THAT DELONG TO THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE."

outer ring to be all in the same thing. I just thought it would have a cleaner look." As Van Atta remembers it, the failure of the black mondo grass to thrive in that environment may have also played a role in the decision.

The look of the bamboo has also changed over the years. In early photos of the garden, before the bamboo matured, it was very lush; today, the lower stems of the bamboo are exposed. Cowan likes the idea of exposing the stems so that they can be lit at night to cast interesting shadows against the wall. But the change was precipitated by other factors. The space is quite narrow, and when the stand of bamboo fills in with new canes every spring, that cuts out light to the lower branches. Eventually they die back and need to be trimmed off. While the couple hires a gardener to do maintenance on the property once a week—mostly trimming and raking—Cowan takes care of thinning the bamboo himself. "There's something meditative about thinning the bamboo, deciding which canes go and which stay," reflects Cowan. "I could have somebody do it, but I choose to do it myself." He's even had an expert come in to give him a lesson.

Additionally, salt burn has been an issue with the golden bamboo (Bambusa multiplex 'Golden Goddess') in the Zen Room. The black-bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra) seems to be less affected, but it is also better protected from the winds. Van Atta says that bamboo is found on lists for seaside planting, but its success seems to depend on where it is used.

The couple is currently debating whether to remove the remaining myoporum trees. "I fought to keep those trees," explains Sullivan. "I wanted to keep anything that was old." But today she wonders whether it wouldn't be nicer to have open views of the sculpture and the house as you walk down the entry path. It's a tough decision to make, made tougher since they lost the other tree in that area. The trees aren't ideally located, but they add a great deal to the courtyard with their contrasting color and the way they frame the door.

The changes in the rear garden have been more subtle. Some things have grown better than others. According to Sullivan, there was originally more ceanothus on the beach side and it died off, although two patches have held on and managed to grow. Plants have also been added here and there. The agave near the fire pit was originally planted in one of the pots on the patio, but Sullivan and Cowan moved it after the other agaves went to seed. Salts in the air and soil also seem to have affecced the Pacific wax

Rather than amending the existing sand soil, above, to grow lawn, Van Atta chose plants that would thrive in these conditions. The sea pink and blue wildrye seem to be particularly happy, here.

myrtle (Myricapacifiia) used for the hedge—something that surprised Van Atta because the species naturally grows along the £ coast—so they are considering options to replace it. One pleasant = surprise has been how the sea pink has grown together, something ; it is not known for.

When Landscape Architecture asked Van Atta how she felt about

| the ways that the design had changed over the years, she said she

% was comfortable with it. "The only successful gardens are gardens a that belong to the people who live there," she says. "Over time,

| they've fine-tuned it, which is the way it should be with a garden."

o She even noted a change she would make, were she designing

5 the garden today. "If I had done the project more recently, I might

§ have arranged [the reflecting pool] more like the water feature at my office." At her office, a small water feature is fed from the roof. This cuts down on the amount of city water necessary to run the feature and helps to clean the roof water before it is released. "[At Two Pacific Rooms], I don't even know where the downspouts come down. Now that's the first thing I ask."

PROJECT CREDITS Client Susan Sullivan and Connell Cowan. Landscape architect: Van Atta Associates Inc., Santa Barbara, California (Susan Van Atta, ASLA, principal; Michael Sanchez, project manager; Guillermo Gonzalez). Architect: Neumann Mendro Andru-laitis Architects LLP, Carpintería, California (Andy Neumann, David Mendro, Bob Pester). Landscape contractor. Monteverde Landscape, Santa Ana, California (Sandor Hadosy). General contractor:

Chismahoo Construction, Carpintería, California (Frank Louda). Sculpture design: Connell Cowan, Los Angeles. Execution/installation of sculpture: Paul Lindhart, Art City Studios, Ventura, California.

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