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American Society of Landscape Architects


July 2007 Issue

Plain Geometry
Seamless incorporation of indoor/outdoor spaces is a California tradition. Two ASLA award winners by the firm Marmol Radziner offer somewhat different perspectives.

By Susan Hines

Plain Geometry Marion Brenner

Any long-time reader of shelter magazines can identify an architect’s own home at a glance. Almost always designed in the modernist tradition, these houses are minimalist and extremely rectilinear. Expansive glass windows are used to “break down the barrier” between inside and out. Interiors are sparsely furnished with classic furniture by Eames or Saarian or “new classics” from the architect’s own hand. The gallery-white walls are invariably hung with original art—abstract or pop (for those who can stand a little color). And, other than an occasional piece of sculpture, personal objects are mostly hidden away, although on occasion a child’s toy reeking of “good design” rather than extruded plastic may add a touch of humanity to the space.

Now, two 2006 ASLA award winners offer insight into how architects approach the garden when designing for their own homes. The Glencoe Residence and the Horizon Residence both spring from the Los Angeles-based firm Marmol Radziner and Associates. In each case, client and designer overlapped. Principal Ron Radziner, Affiliate ASLA, created the Glencoe residence and landscape for himself and the garden of the multifamily unit called the Horizon Residence for his partner, Leo Marmol.

These landscapes are located in Los Angeles’s Venice district. The Glencoe Residence is a new home built in a residential neighborhood of bungalows and cottages, while the Horizon Residence sits close to Venice’s busy and grittier downtown.

What happens when architects design landscapes with themselves in mind? Although the firm’s landscape designer is credited with “working closely with the architects to ensure a strong connection between interior and exterior spaces,” especially in the case of the Glencoe Residence, architect Radziner was in the driver’s seat every step of the way.

“As I was designing the house, I was thinking about the landscape and architecture at the same time,” he says. “In each case, we attempted to create outdoor rooms that are architectural and to use landscape and architecture equally.”

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