American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2007 Professional Awards
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Two courtyards interlink the residence allowing each interior room to enjoy the visual landscape. The outdoor spaces are designed for small intimate groups or entertaining large gatherings. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

A rivulet of water at the base of a narrow window cut within the stone wall, oriented to a distant peak, creates a welcoming gesture in the garden. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

From the courtyard side, a slender channel of water spills on to a single concave slab of stone. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

An enclosed courtyard exposes the rooms of the house to stone slabs, a misting fountain, and creates a landscape room. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

Native plants were used in the reconstruction of the mountain landscape surrounding the residence. Designed as a plant community, species from grasses to trees have been intermixed to recreate the sub-alpine zone. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

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Woody Creek Garden, Pitkin County, Colorado
Design Workshop, Inc., Aspen, Colorado

"A stunning example of how the landscape can complement the architecture without being a slave to it. The colors, distinctive detailing, and striking stonework are beautifully appropriate to the site."

— 2007 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Project Statement

Two courtyards interlink the residence allowing each room to enjoy the visual landscape. The garden is built as a functioning green roof over a portion of the residence, leaving the steeply sloping site undisturbed. Water is the unifying element in the landscape design. Atmospheric mist, single rivulets, cascades, and still pools portray water in its various states and forms. Just beyond the walls, the native landscape has been retained and preserved.

Project Narrative

Quality of design and execution
A walled entry garden in a pinwheel arrangement of granite slabs on the horizontal plane is contrasted by naturalized groups of quaking aspens acting as vertical punctuation. The slabs function as sculptural seating benches and tables. The garden surrounds a central stone misting fountain influencing the enclosed space with an intermittent ethereal ambiance.

The second garden, in comparison, is an expansive, promontory entertainment space. The design program anticipated large gatherings of the owners’ friends. With frequent afternoon rains, the space is designed to include the possibility of tenting the entire yard. A cascading wall of water forms the backdrop to the garden, disappearing suddenly into quiet reflecting pools, one of which also functions as a recreational spa. A separate, geometric pool of shallow water is located in the center of the courtyard. From the promontory above, this plane provides a mirror to the dramatic ever changing sky. The promontory garden is elevated above the surrounding landscape to celebrate the dramatic views at the very edge of the skyline.

Environmental sensitivity and sustainability
By limiting the disturbance with walls and adapting the home to the hillside site, the residential garden becomes part of the natural setting. Sustainable design elements include:

  1. Plants native to the sub-alpine life zone were utilized in the landscape design. Often unavailable from commercial nurseries, some species were specifically grown for this site.
  2. The concept of the garden was adapted to the conditions of high altitude with selections of plant materials, soils on the site, and revegetation methods to establish native plant communities.
  3. The inclusion of a green roof created energy savings for the residence and significantly shelters the heating required by the home.
  4. All drainage has been captured from roofs and terraces and retained in dry wells on site, resulting in no net increase in run-off.
  5. Sustainable site development guidelines have been followed that were established by the local county and include enhancement of wildlife habitats with the planting of certain plant species.

    The residence is located at an elevation of 9,000 feet on a sloping site of mixed conifers and aspen. Views are expansive to the west and north; other aspects are hidden in the hillside. The residence and garden are contained by retaining walls to avoid disturbance on an ecologically fragile site. A climate study was completed to design strategies to shelter outdoor spaces from the wind and capture sunlight. Access to sun and climate led to flexible terraces allowing furniture to be adjusted depending on the time of day.
Project Resources

Poss Architecture, Aspen, CO

Landscape Contractor:
Landscape Workshop, Carbondale, CO

General Contractor:
Silich Construction, Aspen, CO


Walls and terraces emphasize the elevated feeling of the garden, a green roof over the space below. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

Reflective visual drama of the surrounding natural landscape is contrasted with the rough stone materials of the garden walls. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

The rectangular pool defines the promontory edge. A thin sheet of water mirrors the sky, introducing the reflected light and pattern to the courtyard. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

An edge detail allows the pavement and water to create a continuous uninterrupted surface. (Photo: D.A. Horchner/Design Workshop)

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