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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
     Monthly Newsletter
June 2010
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: Landscaping a Grand Entrance

Design Company of the Month: Petrow Gardens Landscape Design

Helpful Links for Architects

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Devonian Stone Terrace NYC Welcome to the June issue of our newsletter! If you have a project you would like to share with us, please contact us and tell us about it. If chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues, which goes out to architects and building industry professionals across the country. Click here to find out more about us, or visit us on our new Facebook Fan Page.

Design Company of the Month: Petrow Gardens Landscape Design

Petrow Gardens 1Petrow Gardens Landscape Design creates unique landscape solutions by integrating classic design principles of repetition of shapes, harmonization of colors, and use of contrasting textures and forms with artistic expression. The resulting gardens promise to be inviting to explore and stimulating to your senses as you take in a wide range of what nature can offer you. We focus on native and non-native plants that provide seasonal interest for both you and the wildlife in our region.

Petrow Gardens Landscape Design offers complete landscape design services including master plans, foundation plantings, perennial gardens, natural meadows, flagstone patios, stone walls, pools, fencing, and landscape lighting. Personal attention to clients' needs and creative and unique solutions are the company's strengths.

Jay Petrow, the owner and principal designer of PetrowGardens, is a former magazine art director who studied at the New York Botanical Gardens Landscape Design Program. Jay's creative vision, coupled with his horticultural knowledge, produces extraordinary landscapes for his clients.

For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: Landscaping a Grand Entrance
Petrow Gardens 2
When Jay Petrow of Petrow Gardens Landscape Design decided to change career paths from magazine designer to landscape designer three years ago, he was not only following a lifelong passion for gardening and the outdoors, but he also found that there were many similarities between his old job and his new one, including the selection of colors, textures, and structure.

One of Petrow's recent projects is a grand staircase that helped to create and define the entrance to a home in Westport, Connecticut. Petrow explains, "This project was for the Garden Club President of Westport and she gave me a call saying that even though she was President of the Garden Club and had a broad knowledge of plants, her design experience was somewhat limited and she didn't know how to approach this particular problem, which was how to direct visitors to her property to the front door. When you drove onto the property into a parking area, the garage and a side of the house was there, but the entrance door was nowhere to be found. One area was totally run down and had a slope of tree trunks that had been cut down, weeds and mud that had the remnants of some kind of stairway with rotted timber that actually led to the main front door of the house, which was ten feet in elevation below the driving area. There is another stairway around the corner that was finished and led down to another side entrance. When I went to the first interview, I was totally confused as to where to go because the side entrance seemed more like a private courtyard and the main door was pretty much inaccessible. What I wanted to do in the design was to make it really clear to the visitor that here was the entrance, here's where they should go knock on the door if they've never been there before, and so forth."

"I put a couple of large stone pillars at the top of the staircase and had directional lights facing down so even in the evening it is very clear that this is the entrance. I created a very wide staircase made out of stone. The house is a traditional colonial house, white with black trim. The owner was in favor of keeping traditional sort of boxwood type plantings and hedges that were evergreen that didn't require a tremendous amount of upkeep because she has other perennial gardens on the property that she likes to spend time gardening in, but she didn't want the entrance area to require a lot of work. Because the staircase was going to end up having seventeen steps, which is quite a long staircase, I wanted to have an intermediary platform where people could pause on the way down. The platform could actually be a sitting area where the owner could wait for guests coming or guests could wait for her. It also could be developed into just a sitting area to overlook the rest of the property. As it turned out, we eliminated some sitting walls, but we did keep the platform and the waiting area so that it does break up the descent, because seventeen steps down would be a long way to go without a pause."

In regard to the circular stone design in the platform, Petrow explains, "As you're coming down the stairs, I wanted to put some kind of design on the platform, and in most of my designs I try and keep it to a more simple, classic design rather than overdesigning. When I was a magazine designer, in terms of designing layouts, and now in designing landscapes, I always find I'm editing out more because that's when you end up with the essence of the design. It's the simpler designs I always appreciated myself when looking at other designers and I always try to emulate that. It can be difficult. I think one of the hardest things of the design process is to eliminate things that you think will look good and you want to add more in, you want to give it more pizzazz, but sometimes in the end, more is actually not better than keeping design elements simpler. So on that I just used a relatively simple circle and introduced Mexican beach rocks into the circle outline that gave it a little bit of a textural difference and a little bit of a color shift in that they're a little darker than the bluestone. It's basically a simple design, but I think it adds a lot as you come down the steps. It gives you a focal point to look at and actually in the evening there are lights that shine on it."

"Since we finished the project, the two areas on either side of the platform are no longer being used as sitting areas. The homeowner has been putting pots with flowers and other ornamental objects there, so it looks almost like a sculpture garden and adds a little bit of interest as you're descending the stairs."

Petrow used natural Connecticut fieldstone for the staircase. "There were some stone walls on the property already and actually, at the bottom of the steps there was a stone retaining wall that we had to match. So we kept to that natural stone look that seemed to go with the classic house. The planting materials are boxwoods. There are some oak leaf hydrangeas in there that do give a little bit of color, a little seasonal color and a couple of other plants. I put in a couple of dwarf crabapples at the top that are just going to end up being ten to fifteen feet tall, just as focal points. They're called coral burst crabapples. They definitely help to frame the entrance and give some vertical dimension to the stairs.

"The design took roughly six weeks with some back and forth with the owner on some of the design ideas and concepts, but the basic concept was approved. The mason, Carmine Caratozzolo, actually rushed through this project really nicely and was done in about a month. The installation took about a week, with 3-4 days between the plants and the mulch. We had to add some topsoil because the grade was rather steep, so we needed to fine tune the grading around the stone walls. I was overseeing the project on a daily basis to make sure they were following the plans, and I always find that in any design installation there are always adjustments that are made in the field, whether for design purposes or construction purposes. There are choices to be made, so I'd rather be involved throughout the project. With the plant installation I'm involved in terms of buying the plants and basically running a crew to install them."

"The staircase has a very classic look. I would say that my design style ranges pretty far at this point. I enjoy designing different types of landscapes, including a lot of natural landscapes where I use native plants and it's less structured and less formal than what this is, but I also enjoy doing this kind of thing. I was actually a math and science major, so I have that side of my brain that likes the geometry and the structure of a classic design. When I design more native and more natural landscapes, I look for certain patterns within nature and groups of plants that in an underlying way has a structure, but then the trick is to make it look more natural. So that's my goal with landscapes that I design."

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community
The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit:

Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:

Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit:

The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.

Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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