What Are You Walking On?

By Kyle Hoepner

There is architecture. There is nature. And then there’s that in-between zone, where the two come together. Perhaps because I’ve always preferred nature in not-entirely-wild form, I have a fondness for those not-wholly-one-thing-or-the-other places that are the special province of landscape architecture.

And one aspect of landscape architecture I’m particularly enjoying these days—probably because it’s finally not covered with snow anymore—is paving. Underfoot, but hardly beneath notice.

The Monk’s Garden at Boston’s Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.

Photo courtesy of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

Boston’s Chinatown Park, by Carol R. Johnson Associates: a path for feet and a path for water, both lined with stone.

A quiet pool surround in Connecticut by Devore Associates Landscape Architects.

Photo courtesy of Devore Associates Landscape Architects

This hilltop space in Vermont, by Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture, is “paved” with clumps of moss.

Photo courtesy of Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture

At another site in Vermont, the same firm inset stones into a gravel path—hardly a new trick, but the rectilinear geometry and care taken with the textural mix, for me, elevate the result above the ordinary.

Photo by Jim Westphalen

In front of this Mount Desert Island house by architect Peter Forbes, Michael Boucher’s landscape seems to grow out of the underlying ledge rock on which the home rests. (This is one of my favorite images from past issues of New England Home. Click here to see more of the house and it surroundings.)

Photo by Trent Bell

Is it a lawn fronting this house along Massachusetts’s Westport River? Or is it a terrace? Reed Hilderbrand Associates has left the choice, in a way, up to you.

Photo courtesy of Reed Hilderbrand Associates

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