2017 Honor Award

Hudson Highland Cottage

Category: Residential Design

Landscape Architect:

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects


Project Team:

Thomas Woltz Principal

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Role: Landscape Architect

Jeffrey Longhenry

Senior Associate

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Role: Landscape Architect

Maggie Hansen


Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Role: Landscape Architect

Larry Weaner


Larry Weaner Landscape Associates

Role: Landscape Architect

Sharon Davis


Sharon Davis Design

Role: Architect

About the Project:

Located in the Hudson River Valley, on a historic road dating back to the Revolutionary War, the site is ensconced in an environment of forest, stone walls, clearings, and old farmsteads. The cottage was re-imagined on the footprint of an old farmhouse – with a stern façade to the road while a two-story rear curtain wall provides prospect over the two-acre forest clearing. The landscape design responds with a wildflower meadow providing a colorful and exuberant habitat for sensory enjoyment of the open field. A restrained planting palette in immediate proximity to the house references species from surrounding woodlands – ferns, amelanchier – and meadow – tall grasses and wildflowers – along the terrace walls, which amplify the meadows beyond.

Project Location: Hudson River Valley, New York

Special Factors

The landscape was designed in close collaboration with the architect whose vision for this residence was a contemporary cottage perched on the edge of a clearing. Derelict fieldstone walls, extracted and assembled by colonial era farmer settlers, trace the edge between the two-acre meadow and the surrounding woodland.

Breaking with the established patterns of the site and its surroundings, dynamic design gestures assert a strong sense of intervention, reacting to the sensitive expansion of the residential structure and traffic flows, while graciously navigating the challenging topography of the site. Grading, site walls, and terraces are designed as bold, contemporary, dynamic gestures directing circulation and sculpting a spatial connectivity between the cottage, the two barns, and the larger landscape.

The palette of materials includes board-form concrete walls, on-site fieldstone, bluestone and gravel paving, and corten steel, which in certain light conditions mimics the red of the adjacent barn. In one detail, the corten provides a datum for the grading and the siting of the house – barely detectable as flush edging at the entry, but graduating to an assertive presence along the front stairs and becoming retaining walls at the back terrace.

The meadow was rehabilitated and exuberantly planted with a lush and profuse palette of native wildflowers, grasses, and sedges. The close proximity of the meadow to the clean modern lines of the house provides a stunning visual dichotomy, and draws the eye to woodland beyond.