Mount Soledad Residence
San Diego International Chapter of American Concrete Institute Project of the Year, 2000. Dramatic sculptural patio and raised deck create a dynamic outdoor living space. Design includes a water wall and water gardens, planted grotto and fountain, framed and enhanced by trailing vines and lush plantings.
After a newly framed room addition had swallowed up part of the rear yard, the owners realized they needed help. Existing conditions included old and rotting railroad tie walls, and a steep, overgrown rear slope.
The program included a complete “re-make” of the rear and side yards and renovation of the front garden. The owners wanted to re-gain lost yard, maintain privacy and recapture a lost view to the bay. Existing brick paving was to be retained, where possible, with the remainder re-used in the new work. They wanted a restful setting, quiet greens, a possible water feature, warmth in the sun and yet, respite from it. The owners also had an affinity for plants.
The usable areas in the rear yard were small. Carving so deep into the existing slope would require large retaining walls. Somehow, these walls could not feel overpowering. Creating an intricately woven series of curving walls, forms and water features (there are 3), would require careful design, detailing and execution.
While the owners had a general program, they gave the Landscape Architect complete design freedom. The Landscape Architect’s work included all exterior improvements from walls and stairs, water features, paving, drainage, woodwork, lighting and landscape. The structural engineer worked for, and under the direction of the Landscape Architect. There was some consultation with the Geotechnical engineer. Since construction was an extremely critical component of the work, its prosecution was carefully guided by the Landscape Architect throughout the entire construction period. The role of the builders, especially the concrete contractor, was essential to the success of this project. Each of these poured-in-place concrete walls was essentially a one-time casting that had to be completely prepared, sequenced and finished before the next pour. Any patching would show in the finish.
The project demonstrates the effect good design (and a command of the elements) can have on the quality of a place, the ability of Landscape Architecture to be transformative or transcendental, to be able to foster tranquility, serenity, a sense of wonder and oneness with the environment, and awareness of the precious nature of its elements. This garden is a composition in time, with a constant framework (the masonry) altered by the seasons, the years, color, sky or mood (evening use).