Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Residential Landscape Defined By a Lack of Plants

In September, I had the unique opportunity to tour the The Frank Lloyd Wright designed Edward R. Hills House (also known as the Hills-DeCaro House), a historic landmark in Oak Park, IL. The Hills House is an example of Wright’s transition from his traditional prairie style of architecture to his experimentation in Japanese architecture (note the pagoda style roof features). Wright believed that the house should blend in harmony with the natural surroundings. The landscape of the Hills house does just the opposite – the current owners, Mark and Sallie Smylie, did not want plants to detract from the magnificence of the house.
The landscape at the Hills House is in stark contrast to the residential landscape of today, where we design foundation plantings that smooth the sharp angle of the house and the yard.


If you owned this home, would you change the landscape? In a sense, I agree with the homeowners, that foundation plantings might detract from the home. But my own personal style might lead me to incorporate a landscape that was more in concert with Wright's style, perhaps a Jens Jensen inspired landscape that tied the house closer to the original ecosystem (which I would guess in this area would be an oak savannah). What would you do?

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