SPRUCING UP: LAND­SCAPE BUILT AMID THE TREES

Lifescape As­so­ci­ates’ $250,000 land­scap­ing project at Polo Club home wins grand prize

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Colleen Smith

Her­mann Hesse, the No­bel Prizewin­ning au­thor, called trees “the most pen­e­trat­ing of preach­ers.” When the own­ers of prop­erty in Den­ver’s Polo Club neigh­bor­hood scraped an ex­ist­ing house to build their dream home, the trees on the lot dic­tated the de­sign.

Ar­chi­tect Don Rug­gles of Rug­gles Mabe Studio, in Up­town, sited the Santa Barbara-in­spired house to ac­com­mo­date ma­ture trees.

And the de­sign­ers at Den­ver-based Lifescape As­so­ci­ates rose to the chal­lenge of sav­ing spruces 50 feet tall and an even larger old elm while de­liv­er­ing the land­scape their clients wanted. The project was com­pleted in 2014; Lifescape re­cently won a 2016 Na­tional Grand Prize from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Land­scape Pro­fes­sion­als for their de­sign.

“This is a stately old neigh­bor­hood, and part of keep­ing its his­tory alive is keep­ing these trees alive,” said Troy Shimp, a se­nior de­signer for Lifescape. “We painstak­ingly took care of these big trees to help them sur­vive.”

Ma­ture trees sup­port es­thet­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ter­ests and also in­crease prop­erty value. On this site, spruces pro­vide pri­vacy. The elm adds a liv­ing canopy to a court­yard. And, as Shimp noted, trees of­fer wildlife habi­tat.

To save the trees, Lifescape care­fully as­sessed and pro­tected root sys­tems. The firm en­gi­neered a per­me­able, heated-paver drive­way that al­lows for air and wa­ter cir­cu­la­tion for tree roots. Large dry wells were added to pro­tect the flat lot in the event of a 100-year flood. They in­stalled curvi­lin­ear paths and square-cut flag­stones set into checker­board walk­ways in the lawn. Their un­der­stated, tex­tu­ral gar­dens of box­woods, yews, white rose bushes and hostas ac­cent clas­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture.

As for the in­te­rior, “These clients had a sense of hu­mor and a sense of style,” said in­te­rior de­signer Eric Mandil of Den­ver’s Mandil Inc. “They al­lowed us to make some ec­cen­tric state­ments.”

“We wanted this house to feel like a ren­o­va­tion rather than a new build. Our goal was to make this feel like one of the orig­i­nal houses in the Polo Club of the ’30s and ’40s,” Mandil said. “Ev­ery­thing has a patina of an older era.”

Built by Montare Builders, the res­i­dence’s style draws from Tus­cany and Santa Barbara, yet also feels grounded in the Mile High City.

“Den­ver has its own au­then­tic vibe, en­vi­ron­ment and his­tory. We cel­e­brate that. There should be a le­gacy,” Mandil said.

Lo­cal color comes from his- toric col­umns pur­chased from an ar­chi­tec­tural sal­vage shop.

“We re­con­sti­tuted the cap­i­tals from a Jac­ques Bene­dict’s bank build­ing. We used them in the de­sign and made them into ta­ble bases on the pa­tio and in the gar­den. We’re cu­rat­ing and for all per­pe­tu­ity sav­ing this ar­chi­tec­ture and rein­cor­po­rat­ing it,” Mandil said.

Ad­di­tional ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails pre­vent the new con­struc­tion from cookie-cut­ter pre­dictabil­ity.

“The carved stone arches with their own pat­terns: It’s like jew­elry on the house. That de­tail nor­mally gets cut due to ex­pense,” Mandil said.

The ex­te­rior’s gold and buff lime­stone with a red-tile roof sets the tex­tu­ral and color palettes for land­scap­ing de­tails. The de­sign team se­lected an­tique pots and other time-worn ap­point­ments that lend a lived-in qual­ity to out­door spaces.

“It’s not in­tim­i­dat­ing or pulled too tight,” Mandil said. “We bal­anced mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine.”

An out­door fire­place adds the el­e­ment of fire. Wa­ter is in­tro­duced from a hand­some wall foun­tain rimmed with re­pur­posed tiles sal­vaged from a 1930s Florida es­tate.

“The in­ner court­yard foun­tain can be seen out of ev­ery win­dow on the side of the home,” Shimp said.

Sight lines from in­te­rior to ex­te­rior are im­por­tant for the home­own­ers, who don’t ac­tu­ally spend a lot of time out­doors.

“We zip­pered the in­side and out­side to­gether so it’s vis­ually stim­u­lat­ing. It looks a lit­tle like Paris when you look out at the an­tique faux bois fur­ni­ture,” Mandil said. “These are ro­man­tic pock­ets. Even if you’re not in the space, you can imag­ine your­self in it — like mini-stage sets.”

Pho­tos by Ron Rus­cio and pro­vided by Lifescape As­so­ci­ates Inc.

Lifescape As­so­ci­ates re­cently won a 2016 Na­tional Grand Prize from the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Land­scape Pro­fes­sion­als for their de­sign work at a home in Den­ver’s Polo Club neigh­bor­hood. “This is a stately old neigh­bor­hood, and part of keep­ing its his­tory alive is keep­ing these trees alive,” said Troy Shimp, a se­nior de­signer for Lifescape.

The Santa Barbara-in­spired home in Den­ver’s Polo Club neigh­bor­hood was de­signed to main­tain ex­ist­ing trees.

Lifescape As­so­ci­ates in­stalled curvi­lin­ear paths and square-cut flag­stones set into checker­board walk­ways in the lawn. Pho­tos by Ron Rus­cio, pro­vided by Lifescape As­so­ci­ates Inc.

The ex­te­rior’s gold and buff lime­stone with a red tile roof sets the tex­tu­ral and color palettes for land­scap­ing de­tails.

Wa­ter is in­tro­duced from a hand­some wall foun­tain rimmed with re­pur­posed tiles sal­vaged from a 1930s Florida es­tate.

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