Sunday, May 23, 2010

Atomic Crash Party 6 - Indianapolis

A recent invitation from Baz of Atomic Indy to travel out and attend an Atomic Crash Party has been fullfilled. Last weekend Cincinnati Modernation made the short trek to Indianapolis to tour this jewel of a modern in addition to touring Atomic Indy's MCM ranch and also driving by some local MCMs. Before we begin, I must hand out many thanks to Baz, the homeowners, the Cohen family, and Indianapolis modern citizens for their welcome hospitality.

The main subject at hand is a white post and beam special set in a deeply wooded lot. It's obvious on arrival there certainly is no shortage of posts nor beams. The open repeating structure frames a horizontal screen wall leaving one bay void for the axial entry. The screen wall encloses a large outdoor courtyard on one side of the entry, a higher garage volume to the left. The ultra thin horizontal profile of the roof floats above the beams minimally and can be seen following through the entire house.

The architectural theme here is transparency and privacy. While the house is enclosed on one portion of almost floor the ceiling glass, the house retains an exceptional level of privacy. Continuity of the post and beam-athon runs throughout the house, thanks to the homeowners removing many 'enclosing' walls. They have been in the house for quite some time, with many additions and refinements to the house along the way all done by them. A huge portion of the interior is built-in millwork with very little consumer furnishings.

The style of the built-ins are very unique with a Wrightian influence. Inside the floors are white, the walls are white, the millwork is natural wood, and the ceiling's exposed wood finish runs continually from outside in. Visual connections run from one end of the house to the other, complete with a social bathroom configuration. At the front door a gravel planting bed recessed into the floor runs from outside to in. There are two twin bedrooms for the children near the main entry, both feature custom hanging bed and built-ins galore.

Back outside and at the back of the house the layout comes together with the full view across the back of this 3,800 sq ft modern. The homeowner's work can be seen in full effect with all the terraced geometric landscape work. Although still in progress, there's plans for a waterfall feature with retaining pool. The concrete work for the upper part of the waterfall is complete, as you may have read in past posts I'm a huge fan of concrete landscaping work. I may have to make another trip to see the waterfall up and running.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mid Century Modern Curb Appeal - Spring Plantings

I tell you, it's all in the prepwork. Since we've moved in, we've been dying to get our hands dirty and personalize our landscape with a little MCM style. If only we were in Palm Springs or even Hawaii we'd have an xeriscape-fest and an easy go with chosing super appropriate arid plants that maintain themselves. Instead we're in the Midwest, climate 'transition' zone 8/9 and our soil is a little finicky, and our particular area we are planting is a somewhat sunny, somewhat shady area. Couple this with a husband and wife trying to select plants we BOTH like, this landscaping stuff isn't always the easiest.

The first two years we didn't plant anything, really we just ripped things out. and pondered, and started raising kids, I digress. We finally poured the landscape walls last year, planted a bunch of bulbs at the sunny end, and looked at the very lonely Magnolia, wondering what should keep it company. Along the road of decision making, we were able to narrow down our agreed approach. We wanted a lot of color from spring until frost, we planned to plant geometrically, two square beds in front of the porch and linear lines of plants in front of the studio. Prepping the existing soil was also a task we tackled last fall, tilling and adding plenty of compost and manure.

We started with the 'anchor' plant that will eventually grow to screen the front of the house, Azalea. We picked a sweet pinkish fuscia color and got five of them. In front of the Azalea we went with the tried and true Phlox, along the front wall of the landscape bed, it will eventually cascade over and stay low to allow us to layer to the taller Azalea. A couple weekends ago, we planted these two plants for round 1. Made sure to add some peat moss and compost with the soil on the Azaleas. Both of these plants are early spring bloomers and hold their flowers for around a month, before giving us some green foliage for the remainder of the summer.

In the first few photos some of the flowers of both plants are still hanging around. It's interesting how much the gray of the house becomes a background color to the bright flowers. We're totally going for plush color continuity. One thing to note about our linear approach is it makes it easy to lay the plants out and space them, then time to dig. I always overdig the holes for our plants and mix in some compost and adjacent soil as I plant.

The color of the Azelea is intense, the photo here doesn't do the color justice. Some new growth already kicking in.

We bought 6 flats of creeping Phlox to go along the wall. This Phlox is the same color as the stuff we've had in our gray planter for a few years, proven to do well so we can't go wrong.

End of round 1 ended with a soaking rain chasing
me along planting the Phlox, no worries as the plants were welcomed by a good soaking, finally a little color a greenery.

The width of the front of our house is our reference width to space the plants by, eventually the Azalea will become a hedge along the front of the house. I'm debating shaping them into a giant rectalinear block, I still have time to think about it as it will take several years for them to rise up and mature.

Two weeks later and many trips to the local gardening centers we started round 2 of planting today. After looking at books, researching online, checking stock of desired plants found online we were ready to pull the credit card out. We decided on a couple of flowering annuals, Torenia and Browallia, a dozen of each. Both plants have purpleish flowers that will flower through fall = maximum value + they will mound and fill in.

Having all the dirt prepped and ready makes it easy to plant. Our soil in the planting bed has been referred to as black gold, as it's very soft and potent, ready for plants. The Torenia is a little lower of plant so it goes in front of the taller Browallia. Both are in rows in front of the Azalea filling the gap in front of the bed.

Messing around as work progresses, we can't wait until these flowers really start to take off.

About 45 minutes after unloading the car, the new plants were in ground and watered. Wendy and I cranked out some work quickly while the kids rested. From the street we now have a complete 'green' line in the planting bed. We also planted some Impatients around the Magnolia that will mound and overflow the bed in a couple of months, they start off small.

Here's a view of the linear vision in full effect. Gotta keep everything nice and aligned. Our next step is to plant some ground covering behind the Azalea to cover the remaining blank area. The area is almost full shade so we'll have to look at our options.