ASLA Online ASLA Online ASLA Onine American Society of Landscape Architects
ASLA Online ASLA Online ASLA Online What's New Contact Us Site Map Search

Merit Award - DESIGN

right click to download print version
right click to download print version
right click to download print version

Jackson Meadow
Marine on St. Croix, MN

Coen+Stumpf+Associates, Inc.

Shane Coen, ASLA
Landscape Architect, Coen+Stumpf+Associates, Inc.
400 1st Avenue North, Suite 710
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Tel. 612-341-8070;
Fax 612-339-5907

Project Scope

The program was to create a residential development in a manner consistent with the existing village of Marine. The current zoning allowed 64 dwellings on 5-acre lots. In order to preserve the site's rural character and open space, a planned unit development was designed with the 64 dwelling units grouped on only 30 percent of the site. The cluster arrangement became a way to emulate and translate the traditional village structure, and to connect settlement to a landscape infrastructure. The architecture responds to Marine's cultural history by using vernacular form materials and details, as well as spatial organization. Ultimately, the collaboration of the landscape architects and architect focused on how a study of topology can lead to a site-specific typology, as the form and materials develop from the specific systems and place of Marine.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The design team, consisting of landscape architect, architect and developers, collaboratively developed project program and design guidelines. Landscape architect, in lead master planning role, guided the project through plot approval and construction of infrastructure. Landscape architect works with the architect and every new homeowner in the sting of each building, identification of all finished floor elevations, and the design of each landscape site plan.

Special Factors and Project Significance

Marine on St. Croix is a village that has traditionally resisted proposals for new development. The challenge in this project was to create a residential development that complements existing Marine, yet translates the village structural system into a modern design proposal. In studying Marine and the potential of extending it as a precedent, we noted that the existing architecture, landscape and accompanying infrastructure systems evolved as an incremental response to place. The Marine precedent ultimately gave rise to architecture with spatial and vernacular origins.

By responding to context as precedent, we developed a "mean of reference" for the houses and site. Typical Marine houses become a reference for scale, dimension, and materials. These houses in their landscape setting also gave rise to a vocabulary that became the basis for design guidelines, the guidelines address scale, architectural materials, finishes and colors for dwellings; and plants, surfacings, and fencing for the site. The objective of these guidelines is to respond to the architectural and planning heritage of Marine, ensuring the sensitivity of the site to the surrounding, and providing a sense of human scale that captures the poetic impression of the village.

The site "mean of reference" was derived from a town plan of buildings oriented around a village center, which established a compact grid. As the village of Marine evolved, more buildings and homes were built along the St. Croix River as a response to its organic line. In designing the large framework for Jackson Meadow, we took the same basic forms of the grid and river and adapted them to the projects site's topography. Smaller homes, detached garages, and studios create spaces between structures that give scale to the lots and model the village form. Rather than relegate accessory structures to a concealed position, they were located and designed to become operative forms in the lot composition.

In order to accompany many of the design objectives, the anatomy of this project had to be made plastic and pliable. Planning and physical infrastructure were recast from the perspective of design. The wetlands septic system is the key technology that allows a higher density of dwellings, because it consolidates septic treatment for each house in one system. Utility and water mains were located under the pedestrian routes in order to reduce rights of way and setbacks (both of which are drive by utility easements). Sixty-foot rights of way became 35 feet, producing a more continuous connection between the street and house the use of inverted crowns on roadways accomplished this same objective. Roads carry water a short distance to filtration areas, avoiding the use of swales and culverts near homes. Zoning codes dictated a 24-foot minimum width on roadways, and through the PUD the minimum width was reduced to 18 feet. Pedestrian paths form the circulation network in front yards, and connect to five miles of trails leading to Marines' school, downtown, and nearby William O'Brien State Park.

From a critical appraisal of the forms and systems of marine, the political process became as important a design tool as any drafting board of architect's scale. By using the existing familiar forms of Marine, we began with a layer of experience and recognition that resonated with the public. We then pushed the familiar forms and adapted them to the site. This extension avoided a literal copying of Marine, and added layers of the new and unfamiliar to the project. Arriving at the final design solution involved over 40 public review meetings, and entailed changes in plan details regarding setbacks, road widths, and pedestrian walkways. The design was tested in and grew out of public review, and inspired Marine to reevaluate and revise several codes.

Ultimately, landscape architect and architect collaboratively giving form to both structure and infrastructure illustrates a powerful direction for both professions. Each discipline informs the other in creating systems of place; embarking on such complex programs as a team will inevitably surpass any individual efforts.

2001 Award Winners
Press Release
Copyright  1995-2000 by The American Society of Landscape Architects