2015 ASLA PROFESSIONAL AWARDS:
Mill Creek Ranch
Honor Award, Residential
Vanderpool, TX | Ten Eyck Landscape Architects Inc. | Client: PrivateSource:
Nestled in the Medina River valley of the Central Texas Hill Country, this ranch derives its beauty from its peninsular setting at the convergence of a natural spring and hill country creek. The open-air layout of the new ranch buildings—combined with terraced gardens, water and fire features, trails, and restoration of the site—allow the residents and their guests to be fully, yet comfortably, immersed in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country. A cascading storm water and creek purification feature in the courtyard activates multiple senses and pays homage to the spring, while another feature circulates a rill of spring water to help oxygenate the adjacent creek. Native grass lawns provide spaces for entertaining and children’s athletic activities. Old ranch roads and footprints of former barns now give rise to native grasses and forbs that cleanse rainwater prior to entering the creek and spring.
The new ranch house compound, situated near a spectacular bald cypress-lined spring and a creek, features outdoor living spaces carefully crafted to highlight existing features and designed to accommodate the client’s desire for play lawns, volleyball areas, a meditation area, a boat launch, hiking trails, and engaging water and fire elements. The various spaces are defined by native vegetation and durable hardscape materials—such as limestone, Oklahoma sugarloaf sandstone, natural steel, and board-formed concrete—selected to maintain coherency with the architecture. The architects sited the four building complexes at different elevations and angles, which were resolved by the landscape architect through terraced gardens and creatively routed stone plank paths. Original drawings by the civil engineer showed a catch basin in the middle of the courtyard to manage stormwater runoff; alternatively, the landscape architect developed a cleansing riparian courtyard garden and check dams that cleanse and accentuate the path of rainwater prior to it entering the spring and creek. Water features near the spring intercept small amounts of spring water to enhance the sensory experience of sound in addition to helping aerate the stagnant-prone waters of the creek, here upstream from an existing dam. Consistent forms and material selections respond to variations in site conditions and program to create a dynamic, yet unified aesthetic for the ranch house and ranch manager’s compounds and barn, which features an organic orchard and vegetable garden.