American Society of Landscape Architects ASLA 2005 Professional Awards
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Major elements of the plan are the stone terraces surrounding the house and the water features, including the source pool by the walkway, connecting the main house to the guesthouse, the water canal and the proposed ponds surrounding the house. The building envelope is denoted by the dashed line (photo: Marisa Santacruz).

View looking east at the causeway constructed of reclaimed timbers on the approach to the house site (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View looking across the constructed wetlands to the house from the entry drive. Wetland plantings along the edge of the pond were transplanted from on site. This photo is after one season of growth (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View of native grass plantings adjacent to the barn (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View of perennial plantings at entry to the main house (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View of the source pool and the guesthouse. Water for the source pool swells up from the bottom, delivered from a well. The cap of the pool is rusted steel. The planter on the left of the pool is filled with wetland plantings (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).

Livingood Residence, Jackson, WY
VLA, Inc., Jackson, WY

"Incredibly engaging. . .takes advantage of the change of light and the climate with reflective water. . . nestled within the water environment. . . very light on the landscape. . . overall, just excellent.."

— 2005 Professional Awards Jury Comments

The project site is located on 23 acres in Jackson Hole and situated adjacent to a levee along the Snake River. The Jackson Hole landscape is a result of catastrophic block fault uplifting, which created the dramatic Teton Mountain Range, and steady grinding from glaciating, which created valleys and canyons, and the Snake River. Historically, the Snake River flowed unrestrained over the valley floor, but in the 1950s the US Army Corps of Engineers began building the first embankments to contain overflows of the river. Today we know that the lush riparian landscape on either side of the levee, which depends on periodic flooding of the river to restore itself and regenerate cottonwood growth, is in jeopardy due to these levees.

Although the project site was impacted by the levees, it was still rich in wildlife values and wetlands. However, further examination revealed that the wetlands were disappearing and the cottonwood forest was maturing without potential for regeneration.

The property had been subdivided into two lots by the previous owner and in the course of attaining entitlements, 70% of the property had been placed in a conservation easement designed to protect the site’s natural resource values. Two building envelopes were created, each approximately 0.8 acres.

The client chose the building site closest to the levee, located in a stand of mature cottonwoods, and surrounded by wetlands. The site was essentially flat except for broad shallow depressions, which crossed the property from north to south. These depressions, or swales, were remnant channels of the Snake River, created during the periodic flood events that occurred prior to the construction of the levees. The bottoms of the swales were considered wetlands, but there were indications that these wetlands were disappearing without the sedimentation that occurred with the flood events. They appeared scoured, consisting only of exposed cobble and wetland vegetation.

The solution lay in a site development approach that emphasized the natural resources present on the site and a plan that would enhance the existing wetlands, while restoring the regenerative process for the cottonwood forest. Meeting these criteria would require an extensive amount of disturbance in the remnant river channels outside of the building envelope. The channels would need to be excavated, lined to control water elevations, and backfilled with suitable soil in order to sustain a healthy wetland plant regime. We were able to build consensus between the wetland consultant, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Teton County Scenic Preserve Trust that we could improve the wetland and resource values on the site through the development of the plan.

The client asked the landscape architects to review the recorded road layout and building site to assess its constraints and opportunities. He has a strong appreciation and respect for the natural landscape and wanted to develop the property in an ecologically sound manner.

The landscape architects' first recommendation was to realign the roadway in order to protect the existing cottonwoods and to build retaining walls along the sides of the roadway where it crossed the wetlands. The retaining walls would serve to lessen slopes on either side of the road which would also minimize impacts to the wetlands. This also created a causeway effect that would enhance the arrival to the home site. Roadway bridges were designed to have a low profile and were faced with timbers that were reclaimed from a railroad trestle that crosses the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The retaining walls were constructed from the same materials.

The building site was very tight for the client’s building program, which included a main house, guesthouse, and a barn. All of these structures as well as circulation and landscaping, would have to occur within the 0.8 acre building envelope. The challenge was to develop a site plan and site development program which would satisfy the client’s program and respect the constraints of the site.

VLA Inc.'s concept for the house site was to create an island in the forest, surrounded by water and wetland reclamation plantings. The swales surrounding the house site were lined in order to maintain a consistent water elevation and water was introduced by means of a well and source pool located between the main house and the guesthouse. Water from the source pool flows under a covered walkway connecting the guesthouse to the main house and cascades over a stone wall to the head of the pond system. Additional water is drawn off of the source pool by a steel water canal, reminiscent of the old logging operation, which took place on the property in the 1950’s. The water canal follows a wall, faced with the same reclaimed timbers used on the causeway, which defines the edge of the building envelope and forms the back terrace. The landscaping is composed of indigenous shrubs, perennials, and grasses.

VLA's role was to create a seamless integration of elements mirroring the client’s desire to have a house embodying a mountain lifestyle, while exemplifying a respect for the natural resources present on the property. They were responsible for preparing the site development concept and obtaining the necessary entitlements. VLA worked closely with the wetland consultant, who advised on existing wetland conditions for the project, and was also the builder. The landscape architects were additionally responsible for all the exterior hardscape and landscape design, including water features, walls, and terraces.

This project was unique in that the opportunity existed to create a dramatic setting for the house site, complimentary of and beneficial to, the existing landscape requiring support from the federal agencies responsible for protection of wetlands and the local agency responsible for overseeing the natural resources present on the site. By understanding the concerns of all parties involved, the landscape architects were able to craft a solution which appealed to everyone concerned and has become an exemplary design model for similar sites in the valley.


View looking from the guest house porch across the source pool to the main house. The cascade out of the source pool is in the foreground. The water canal is just behind the timber bulkhead (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View of the water cascading into the sculptural feature on the back terrace. The rusted steel water canal is in the background (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View looking west across the pond and constructed wetlands south of the house site (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View looking west down the water canal as it flows into the back terrace (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
View of the back terrace and sculptural water feature from across the pond (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
Another view of the back terrace and sculptural water feature from across the pond (photo: Kevin Perrenoud).
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