July 12, 2023 - As part of being honored as a Palladio award winner, which was celebrated at last night's Traditional Building Conference awards ceremony, New England Farm was featured in an article by Nancy A. Ruhling published in Traditional Building magazine and Period Homes Digital.

Read the full article here.

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Set on 60 acres along Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay is a working organic farm that serves as a summer home for a couple who love nature and New England tradition.

Although the property was defined by mature trees, they were scattered around the estate and there was no cohesive, comprehensive landscaping plan. The farm is part of a larger parcel that runs to 180 acres that is shared among three siblings, each of whom works a separate section of the land.

Chicago-based Hoerr Schaudt was commissioned to bring out the natural beauty of the property, whose hub is a Shingle Style main house and guest cottage, by creating a sense of progression, scale, and discovery that honors the history as well as the function of the farm.

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“We created a slow reveal by breaking things down visually, so you don’t give away everything at once and you can discover how everything fits together,” says senior partner Doug Hoerr, FASLA. “We created a spine with a series of rooms that lead to each other and that live comfortably in this farm atmosphere.”

The team—Hoerr; partner Nick Fobes, PLA, LEED AP; senior associate Stephanie Zawada; and associate principal Ann Weiland—performed an edit of the property, consolidating the vast landscape into a connective structure that holds discreet surprises around every corner.

They created a master plan that continues to evolve with the property and the owners’ needs and wishes.

“I’m a farm kid, and I love the vocabulary that makes that work,” says Hoerr, who called this a favorite project of his 35-year career.

The transformation starts at the entrance drive, which was planted with mature trees to create a rustic allée. “The old drive felt suburban and made you feel like you were swooping in,” Hoerr says, adding that by creating a more perpendicular approach, “we were able to extend the bones of the house out into the landscape.”

The team redefined the residential compound with what Hoerr calls “a patterning of split-rail fences and granite gateposts, fieldstone walls and paths, hedges, and grass-and-gravel lanes.”

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Masses of billowy shrubs and perennials soften transitions and gently shape intimate enclosures and create a sense of connection and identity to the overall site, which includes a cutting garden, a small orchard, a lily pond, and several gardens.

“Every zone is honest to what its intention was,” Hoerr says.

The gravel garden around the guest cottage, which is across from the vegetable garden and orchard, is a romanticized version of an English cottage garden. “The plants—not the path—take precedence,” Hoerr says. “They spring out of it.”

With its simple wood rectangular boxes, the vegetable garden, which is centered around a conservatory, pays homage to the farmer’s precisely planted straight rows of crops.

The preservation of the existing 80-foot-tall century-old horse chestnuts, beeches, and sycamores that presided over the property, which Hoerr says resembled an arboretum, was paramount.

“We worked around them and transplanted them when necessary,” Fobes says. “We also added a large number of mature trees to the impressive specimens already on the property.”

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Indeed, the project required so many plantings that the team set up a temporary nursery on the property and trucked in 40 semi-trailer loads of mature trees from the Midwest and East Coast to create the huge massing that defines the new landscape.

"It was a delight and opportunity to paint on such a scale,” says Hoerr, who likened the project to putting together pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

Part of the project included the installation of a weathered barn shipped in pieces from Connecticut, which is used primarily for entertaining.

The project, which has been done in phases since 2011, is ongoing.

In the beginning, it was challenging, Hoerr says, because the firm had never worked in Rhode wIsland before and had to put together a team of contractors. And the time line is always short: The owners want the work done before they arrive for the summer season.

“It took an orchestrated effort to get things done,” Hoerr says. “We had to condense all the planting into two and a half months.”

Calling the new landscape a “generational treasure for years to come,” Fobes says it gives the farm “a sense of place, a feeling of being there for a century.”

Key Suppliers

Landscape General Contractor: DaPonte Landscaping

Barn Architect: Eric J. Smith Architect

Barn Builder: Kirby Perkins Construction

Interiors: Franklin and Co.; Tom Scheerer

General Contractor: Kirby Perkins

Mason: QMW Masonry

Stone Supplier: S. McClain Stone Co.

Plant Material Sources: Select Horticulture, Kaneville Tree Farms, Cavicchio Greenhouses, Sylvan Gardens Landscape Contractors, Halka Nurseries, Hoogendoorn Nurseries

Lanterns: Charleston Lighting

Path Lighting: SPJ Lighting

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As part of the 22nd annual Palladio Awards, Traditional Building Magazine has recognized 14 firms for outstanding work in traditional design. See more about each winning project here.

Founded in 2002, the annual Palladio Awards honor outstanding achievement in traditional design. The event recognizes both individual designers and design teams whose work enhances the beauty and humane qualities of the built environment. Through creative interpretation or adaptation of design principles, we celebrate techniques developed through 2,500 years of Western architectural tradition.

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