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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
June 2015
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: An Eclectic Landscape for a Craftsman Style Home

Design Firm of the Month: Ginkgo Leaf Studios

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Welcome to the June 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! Your project could be featured in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.

Photo Courtesy Westhauser Photography


Beautiful landscapes begin with an exceptional design by Ginkgo Leaf Studio. Design principal James Drzewiecki specializes in custom landscape designs for residential clients, from small intimate gardens to large estates and a wide range of commercial properties. We focus on creating stunning and inspired exterior spaces designed especially for you. 

Our 26 years in architecture and horticulture combined has influenced our design style, which is recognized for landscapes that encompass strong geometric lines, bold flowing curves, innovative architectural elements, and unique plant compositions. Both inventive and technical, we believe exceptional landscape design is creating art through nature's inspiration. This is our passion.

For more information visit:

Photo Courtesy Edmunds Studios 


When owners of a Craftsman Style home in Brookfield, Wisconsin wanted to renovate their back yard patio area so that it would be a larger, more aesthetic outdoor living space, they hired landscape designer James Drzewiecki of Ginkgo Leaf Studios, who completely transformed the space. The house, which is a modern interpretation of the Craftsman Style, served as the primary inspiration for the eclectic new landscape design.


Drzewiecki designed low garden walls to match the home's veneer, which was one way to create a landscape that fit with the style of the home. The low garden walls also offer a sense of enclosure to define the public and semi-private spaces in the front and back of the house. Drzewiecki explains, "I wanted the entire landscape to have a bold, architectural feel as influenced by the home. Detailing that isn't fussy and a simplified plant palette also reflect on the home's character. I did not want the landscape to compete with the home. Rather, I hoped the landscape would appear as if it had been designed and built at the same time as the home."


The back yard space which once had an uneven paving surface and was crowded with diseased and invasive plantings has now been redesigned to fully utilize the space in the most harmonious way. Drzewiecki explains, "It's always easier to design the outdoor spaces when a home has a strong architectural style. My degree and background in architecture certainly helps me to pick up on the little details that lead to a harmonious design. I use lines of force from the house to help define the spaces. Using the same materials, from the aqua-colored mortar in the walls to matching the thickness of the coping on the house and repeating it in the new walls, all helps to pull the design together."


"The bluestone on the existing front porch was repeated in the "foyer" at the end of the front walk and at the transition landing between the two patio levels. Even the new bluestone medallion/concrete control joint pattern in the paved areas mimics that of the existing side patio on the home. I believe details such as these are subconsciously noticed and make a space feel special."


Upon entering the back yard through the home's breezeway, a stunning set of convex and concave limestone steps integrate with patterned bluestone to create the dramatic landing. Drzewiecki explains, "The concave/ convex step and landing was a detail I had always wanted to try. The grade change between upper and lower patios, coupled with the strong visual axis to the circular fire pit, created the ideal situation to use it."


The circular fire pit which is perhaps the signature element of the new back yard design, is a hundred-year-old cast iron fire pit which was originally used as a syrup kettle in which sugar cane was melted. It still shows the foundry mark from Georgia. When asked how he came across such a find, Drzewiecki replied, "I do a lot of research and reading of various design and trade magazines and had saved the kettle supplier in my "idea folder" for future use. For this project, the shape and material of the kettle felt very Craftsman, yet modern to me, so I suggested it to my client. Even though my client initially said "they weren't really fire pit people," they loved the look. The stone seat wall with backrest creates a backdrop while uplighting the bowl from below adds a bit of a dramatic touch. It is the first thing you notice when entering the patio from the breezeway of the home."


As far as challenges during the project, Drzewiecki explained that there were two main challenges, the first was determining which of the many existing trees would stay or go. The second was, "Contacting multiple masons and going through over two-hundred colored mortar samples until we matched the exact shade of aqua on the house. That was definitely one of the more unique challenges we faced."


"My favorite part of working on this project was being able to incorporate all of the details I previously mentioned. More importantly, it was an opportunity to work with a client who trusted me one-hundred percent. I'm very blessed to be able to work with lots of great clients. Projects like these only happen when a client shares your vision for creating something special."


This project by Ginkgo Leaf Studios won the 2012 Gold Award for Excellence in Residential Landscape Design and Construction from the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association and the 2015 Gold Award for Best Specialty Wall Project in Residential Design. The project also won the Wisconsin Masonry Alliance Excellence in Hardscape Project of the Year. 



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.

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