The landscape analysis, design and details for this hillside house on a busy neighborhood street in Portland, Oregon's southwest hills. It aimed to make outside life more usable and appealing through well-drained, floor-level outdoor spaces and pathways protected by curving walls.

A site analysis identified issues and aspirations, like the need for drainage improvements, off-street parking, privacy, protection from street hazards and a more identifiable front entrance.

The design built on the issues identified. It proposed a pair of curvilinear waist-height stone walls topped with a cedar screening trellis to sculpt front yard spaces and contours.

Front Yard - 8" x 12" study model

The front wall design responded to practical needs for diverting street drainage away from the garage and creating parking spaces in front of the house. It was viewed as a standalone sculpture shaped by the activities it contained and by how it received and shed street views.

It also enhanced the view from kitchen window to a small garden, improved front door access from the street and garage, created an outdoor patio for taking in the valley view, blocked nighttime headlights from house windows and protected the house from cars sliding down the hill on ice and snow covered street.

The wall battered slightly on both sides and added warm colors to cold fall and winter days with a blend of Sunset Gold and Green Mint quartzite flagstones. The Cedar trellis softened the wall's overall barrier appearance and joined the two walls together as an entry arbor.

Front Yard Fence - material and concept sketches.

For the backyard, a single level select Cedar plank deck extended the house and garage into the back yard at floor level.

A smooth concrete border merged the deck seamlessly into the yard for a mow strip on the high end, and a bench seat with low plantings avoid the need for railing along the sloping side. Details included a hatch door for hiding hoses and other yard maintenance accessories.

Construction began with the back deck. The format and language of construction drawings and specifications made it possible for the do-it-yourself homeowners to build on their own as time and budget allowed.

Back Deck - contract drawings


Landscape design, modeling, presentation materials and contract documents.

Role: Landscape Architect

Setting: Freelance

Location: Portland, Oregon

Year: 1992

Media: India ink and Pantone marker on white tracing paper, India ink on bond paper, Plastilina clay