When the owners of a modern home in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood wanted security, privacy, and connectivity, Hoerr Schaudt took an unusual approach and integrated visual access from the street with spaces of privacy and enclosure to unite a horticulturally-rich garden with a home’s modern aesthetic and urban context.

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Creating spaces flexible enough for child-play, family dining, and entertaining, the design team worked closely with the architect, Booth Hansen, on the final layout and siting of the home to create a landscape that could be just as enjoyed indoors. Multi-story windows at the central stairs look out onto a courtyard garden, and a screened porch at the back of the house topped with a 320-square foot green roof links two other distinct landscapes.

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Complementing the home’s bold and potent architecture, the team incorporated stone and iron into the garden design, serving both to reference the house and to balance its scale. Massive slabs of Eden Stone at the front walk create a clean, uncluttered experience for the entry, while a heavy iron gate serves to deconstruct the building’s mass with its contrasting color. Large swaths of pachysandra and lawn soothe the eye in the side garden, and groves of large birch trees create an alluring foreground to the lawn beyond. In the back gravel garden, free-form plantings that move into the gravel relax the hard geometry and create a more casual space.

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One of the greatest design challenges on the site was the absence of one of Chicago’s common neighborhood features – an alley. The clients wanted to attach a three-car garage, but feared a suburban aesthetic. The solution involved more than 40 design concepts, our team ultimately arriving at a birch grove that would visually “pinch” the entrance drive near the street, making it appear less visible and more fluid.

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ASLA Illinois Presidential Award 2008