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January 2008 Issue

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Residential Design Frisco

Graphic Design
Andrea Cochran’s award-winning Pacific Heights residence looks good at any level.

By Susan Hines

Graphic Design

Although she has an impressive list of expansive landscapes to her credit, Andrea Cochran, FASLA, is a master of the small urban lot. Whether she is working on a steeply sloping backyard or a flat rooftop, she demonstrates an ability to create gardens that are simultaneously graphic and experiential. Working with a balance of high-tech and low-tech materials, she weaves tapestries of plants, metal, stone, light, and wood. Craftspeople and fabricators help fully realize her concepts and make every site Cochran undertakes a uniquely detailed vision of what a garden can be.

“You learn from one project to the next,” she says. “Often you are so close to your own work that you don’t get what other people see in it. When I did that show house (see “The Fleeting and the Steadfast,” Landscape Architecture, April 2005) I was struck because when people looked out on it from above, they thought they knew what it was about, but when they entered it, the garden seemed entirely different.”

That show garden, a 2004 ASLA award winner, toyed with perception in a very playful way. A steep slope separated house and lawn. Cochran’s solution was a zigzag grass pathway that led from a deck to the more level lower lawn. To create a sense of journey, triangular beds planted with colorful ground covers separated the sections of the path. “Looking down from the deck, you might have thought it was flat,” Cochran said in 2005, “but it’s very 3-D when you go down into the garden.”

Later that year, Cochran returned to the same hilly San Francisco neighborhood to further

explore the relationships between inside and outside and above and below.

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