(Above) Dan Gordon created a traditional-style landscape, complete with a rectangular pool, for Pond’s Edge Estate. He designed a pair of terraces – one for a dining area, one for the poolscape – that nestle into the steep slope of the property’s backyard. Photograph by Neil Landino.
Whether he’s designing in a traditional or a contemporary style, award-winning landscape architect Dan Gordon lets the lay of the land guide his eye and his hand.
“In each of our projects, we strive to create an environment that’s humanistic,” says Gordon, whose eponymous studio is based in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “We design places that have a garden feel that people want to be in. They are integrated into the landscape yet have clearly defined spaces that have a sense of place.”
Two properties – Pond’s Edge Estate in Boston’s Chestnut Hill area and Cliff Ridge Estate in Wellesley – illustrate his philosophy, which is based on the great estates of Frederick Law Olmstead and Charles Platt that he explored when he was growing up in the history-rich Boston suburb of Brookline.
At Pond’s Edge, Gordon used the steep slope at the back of the 1911 craftsman-style house in a park-like setting to create a pair of oval terraces that connect the pool with the larger landscape, making it part of the traditional composition.
The terraces, which are made of bluestone in blues, tans, and rusts, step down the slope. The top one, which is softened by a holly hedge perimeter, contains the dining area; the lower one, which houses a rectangular pool with bluestone coping, features a perennial border that seamlessly transitions to the rest of the yard and the pond the property is named for.
For Cliff’s Edge, a 2.5-acre historic estate with a Tudor-style red-brick house, Gordon designed a contemporary backyard landscape, which includes an open-air dining pavilion, to enhance the first-floor renovation that merged the residence with the outdoors with walls of glass that give it the look of a greenhouse.
In this project, which like Pond’s Edge uses a green and white planting palette, the bluestone terrace has crisp, clean lines and steps toward the rectangular infinity-edge pool that is defined by a black onyx finish and black-granite weir stone.
“It’s almost like a reflecting pool,” Gordon says. “Our use of traditional materials, textures and colors blend the contemporary renovations of the house to the landscape that resides comfortably within a traditional context.”
Gordon notes that each of his projects is a collaboration within his office, as well as with nature, with the architect, with the builder and with the client. “It’s a team effort,” he says.