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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
July 2012
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: An Historic Garden Restoration in Brooklyn

Architectural Firm of the Month: Robin Key Landscape Architecture

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone Chatham Bars Inn Welcome to the July issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. If you are chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, and highlight your firm as well. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.

Architectural Firm of the Month: Robin Key Landscape Architecture
Robin Key 1 Robin Key Landscape Architecture (RKLA) is a landscape architecture firm based in New York City. In practice since 1987, the firm - which is certified as a Woman-owned Business Enterprise in New York City - has worked on a diverse range of projects including institutional landscapes, multifamily properties, country residential properties and city townhouse, terrace and rooftop gardens. With each design, the firm strives to create spatial richness through the expression of clean, solid lines and inspiring views.

Aware of the role landscape architecture serves within the community and the larger environment, RKLA's work emphasizes sustainability and maintainable designs. The firm's design team, all of whom have a strong background in the sciences, draws from an extensive knowledge of native plant material and sustainable design methods. The firm values design solutions that both respect and enhance the social, architectural and natural site conditions. RKLA holds LEED accreditation.

In 2009, RKLA was named by The Architect's Newspaper as one of the best landscape architecture consultants in New York City. The RKLA design team received two 2010 Design Merit Awards from the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. The firm's work has appeared in such publications as Dwell, Interior Design and New York Spaces.

For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: An Historic Garden Restoration in Brooklyn         

Robin Key 1  When Robin Key of Robin Key Landscape Architecture in New York, NY was asked by the homeowners of an historic townhouse in Brooklyn Heights to redesign and rebuild their garden, she knew the project would be a special one, which it was. What Robin Key recognized immediately was that the garden was originally designed by Alice Recknagel Ireys, a famous landscape architect, as her personal garden.

Key explains, "The minute I saw the garden I remembered that I had seen it in a book that I own. I immediately did some research. This was Ireys' childhood home and the home where she lived as an adult. This was one of her own garden designs. That was very exciting because I admired her work."

Before starting the project, Key consulted Ireys' first book, "How to Plan and Plant Your Own Property", published in 1967. "The book had her planting plan, so we were able to recreate the plant material as well as the layout. We wanted to keep as much as we possibly could of the original garden."

Ireys' layout for the garden consisted of an upper and a lower terrace, which were maintained. The primary goal for Key was to somehow connect and create a natural flow between the different levels. Key explains, "The challenge was to make this garden fit with modern day use and make it so that all these levels flowed together. We wanted to be able to get from the kitchen on the ground floor to the garden and from the parlor floor to the garden in a very well-connected way."

"Originally there was no access to the house from the lower level. It was actually filled in. The previous owners dug out immediately behind the house in order to get to the garden from the ground floor. This became new usable space. They also installed a staircase that ran the entire width of the back yard. When you looked out the kitchen windows, you saw this giant staircase. In its place, we designed a curved stone staircase that took you from the lower level all the way up to the parlor floor with a custom bronze handrail. From the middle of that stone staircase, you could enter the garden space."

The middle level garden area is particularly enchanting. "The middle section is the exact same layout as Ireys', but instead of making it all one level, we brought it down two steps in order to create a seat wall.  In the center of one side of the gracefully curved seat wall there is an inset with plantings that give the area a colorful accent. Key explains, "The inset was original, but it was a fountain that was made out of a sink. We reset the sink in the same location and plant it every year with seasonal color. The clients did not want the hassle of a fountain. You get a big splash of color, in the fountain area as well as in the two terracotta pots that were also added."

"The center part of the garden was paved with bricks. The original bricks, which were very porous, had been laid flat in a running bond. We brought in new bricks and laid them on end in a running bond. It's very similar to what was originally there, but with new brick."

"Most of the plant material throughout the garden is the same as what Alice Ireys had originally specified in her planting plan. Much of the original material that was still in the garden was either overgrown or not doing well. We replaced those plants with newer versions of the same, but it was hard to find all of her original choices. There were a couple of plants we couldn't get, like a sassafras. We're planning on planting it there, but we haven't done that yet. We tried to be true to her original planting plan and layout, however the perimeter fence is all new design. There was an old stockade fence there but it was in disrepair.

"This was a fairly long project, it took about a year. The homeowners are really happy with the garden. I think that visually they enjoy it from the house interior. The seat walls were included because they like to entertain. There's nothing like having that additional seating for parties."

"My favorite part about this project," explains Key, "is that the parlor floor access is traditional and historic. Often the garden access is changed. We were so inspired to keep true to the Alice Ireys' design. It really influenced how we worked."

"This is such a classical garden and our style varies greatly between project to project. We don't necessarily want people to think that this is the only garden style we work in. We actually work in all different styles."

Robin Key won a New York ASLA Design Award for the project. "In this particular case we were lucky because we were able to maintain the integrity of the Alice Ireys design and improve the way the existing homeowners use the garden. I think that's why we won the award. We connected the levels of the garden beautifully and functionally. It is a successful flow between spaces."  


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

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.

Copyright Devonian Stone of New York, Inc. 2012. All Rights Reserved. Content may not be copied or reproduced in any way without the written consent of Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.