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Monday, June 28, 2010

Prayer-Amy Goes to Haiti

This is my dear friend Amy.

She is one of the fab for those of you who have been around a while. She has a heart for missions and has traveled the globe serving the Lord. She is actually Dr. Amy. She graduated from Pharmacy School at Auburn a few years ago.

Amy sent the message below this morning. If you have a few moments this week please lift her up in prayer as she touches the lives of the people of Haiti.

(This is a picture from one of Amy's other mission trips. This was in Ghana)

Her message is below:

"Hi friends,

Please keep me in your prayers this week! I left yesterday to work with a medical clinic in Haiti for the week. I'm with a team of 7 nurses/doctors from Nashville working about 2 hrs outside the capital in a town called Petit Guave. It's one of the farthest points of the earthquake damage, near the epicenter of the second shock. The Nashville church I'm working with (Brentwood Baptist) has partnered with a local Haitian church to rebuild houses all summer (4 teams) and do a single week of ambulatory care clinic (our team). The conditions in Haiti are some of the most destitute I have ever seen, but it is not from lack of aid or western resources. It is from years of slavery and colonialism followed by poor infrastructure and western dependence. The extreme damage is more a result of poorly built homes (plastic or cement with no rebar) than the severity of the earthquake.

So how can I help? What difference can one week really make, especially with no way to ensure follow up or provide the next month's supply of medications? The only thing of lasting value will be sharing Christ's love, His hope, His ability to provide comfort and peace to broken people.

Pray that I will love boldly and speak words of truth and encouragement. The Haitian church has claimed Psalm 46 through this time: 'God is our refuge and strength, always a ready help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when the earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea...'

Love you all!


She is a special friend who is doing something so great. Please take a few minutes to support her in prayer.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Residential Landscape Design: The Riley Residence……and a little bit more!

Judd here, when Abby started “THE LANGHAM PROJECT,” I was forced to sign a contract stating I would contribute to the cause. Okay, okay…..I did not have to sign anything, but she has put a “LITTLE” pressure on me recently to contribute to the blog. When we decided to start a blog/platform to share our interests, concerns, and lives, we thought that we should include a section to include all facets of design, specifically landscape design. If my beautiful wife has failed to mention, I am a Landscape Designer/Urban Designer/Planner. I have a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with an emphasis in Landscape Design from Auburn University.  I enjoy educating others about landscape architecture. The landscape architecture profession is gaining recognition as a vital player in today's “green” and “sustainability” movements, and we designers are starting to get recognized from Capital Hill to small southern towns around the region.  If you are not familiar with the term landscape architect, please allow me to give you my definition.  A landscape architect is one who designs or envisions spaces that promote social interaction and enhance life while maximizing preservation and conservation of environmental resources - biological, physical, cultural and economic.  That was a long and detailed explanation, and definitely spliced together from a variety of sources, but I think it speaks volumes to the diverse skillsets and talents that most landscape architects provide.  Representatives of The Olin Studio (where I formerly served as a Landscape Designer), a landscape architecture firm in Philadelphia, PA, eloquently described landscape architects as “advocates for the artful creation and transformation of the public realm, and practice in a range of scales, including ecological and regional systems, urban districts, campuses, civic parks, plazas, and intimate gardens.”

Okay, on to my first project post. Our firm was approached to do a residential design a few blocks from my house in Homewood, AL. The client, the Riley’s, were building a new 8,500 sq. ft. house that was three stories. Most of the house had been completed at the time of my involvement and the Riley’s asked that the project be completed in 3 months. Therefore, I started the project in February of 2009 and completed it at the end of April.

The landscape design itself was influenced by the "Lutyens-Jekyll"garden style. The vernacular of the house resembled the works of the popular 20th century English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.  Lutyens was known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. Specifically, Lutyens chose indigenous and relative materials and often emphasized innovative local building techniques. He designed many English country houses in the classical style. Lutyens' longstanding relationship with Gertrude Jekyll, a prominent English garden designer (or planter), resulted in a perfect combination that would eventually influence an entire movement within the field of landscape architecture.  The English Garden movement influenced prominent American Landscape Architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted and others and ultimately became the foundation of the Riley residential design. The Riley residence planting scheme portrays the "Lutyens-Jekyll" garden style overflowing with hardy shrubbery and herbaceous plantings rooted within firm classical architectural elements of steps, stone walls, and terraces around the base of the house. This combined style, of the formal with the informal, exemplified by stone paths, softened by billowing herbaceous borders, full of liriope, lilies, ferns, and various perennials, is in direct contrast to the very formal bedding schemes favored by the gardeners in the Victorian era. This "natural" style was to define the "English Garden" until modern times. The following is a depiction of the design process from concept to implementation. Enjoy!

Before you dive in head first into the the conceptual phase or envisioning aspect of the design process, I always encourage finding a few precedents. Besides, everyone needs a little inspiration. Check out these award winning residential designs from various landscape architects across the nation (you can find them all on the ASLA website) that depict the very idea of blending the formal landscape elements with the informal. The natural planting schemes are in direct contrast to the very formal bedding schemes and the overall symmetry of the house in addition to the geometrical edges or hardscape elements favored by the gardeners in the Victorian era.







The photographs below show what I inherited. The house itself was built into the hillside which helped to hide its shear size and volume from the street. With a little landscaping, the 8,500 sq. ft. house would seamlessly blend into the existing vernacular which consists of turn of the 20th century bungalows typically found in the historic suburb of Birmingham.

DSCN3529 080524 DSCN3519

The Riley’s initially centered and positioned their house around a towering 100+ year Southern Red Oak Quercus falcata. On my first site visit, however, when we turned the corner to see the tree I immediately gasped.  The tree was in major shock and all of the foliage had turned brown. The contractor not only changed the grade to cover all of the existing roots, but he piled debris around the base of the tree causing compaction. I can appraise and assess trees; however, I’m not a certified arborist. At that point, anyone could see that the tree was dying. In tree preservation, standard procedure is to rope off an area under the tree drip-line. This means to rope off and protect everything under the entire expanse of the tree canopy. Sure enough, a certified arborist assessed the tree and concluded it was biologically dead as opposed to aesthetically dead. If this happens to you remove the debris and try and correct the problem. A sure sign of a tree too far gone is to watch for leaf drop. If the brown leaves fall off, then the tree has a fighting chance. If the leaves remain……it’s too late and cannot be saved.

The concept! Aided by a friend of mine (thanks Haley), we started the initial conceptual drawings.

riley - 001

riley - 002

The end design used a combination of English Garden design principles combined with existing natural elements that resulted in a hybrid design that accommodates the existing topography as well as fits within the overall residential context. Sweeping planting beds wrap around the house to help transition the home’s formal architecture into the natural and informal landscape. The asymmetrical planting beds also help to negotiate the grade change and transition the user from the roadway (highest point) to the front door (lowest point).  A small gathering area or hardscaped landing/courtyard was designed to take the place of the quintessential southern front porch. The design stresses the importance of the pedestrian through appropriate scale and movement through the site, and it lessens the visual impact of the vehicular access. The street edge and sidewalk treatment was designed to be a welcome mat that will gather and channel movement from the street to the doorway as quickly as possible while providing the family some privacy when sitting within the courtyard. The backyard was designed to provide space for recreational opportunities as well as a variety of areas for more leisurely activities. The layout establishes the framework for phase II…….the swimming pool! However…..that is a few years down the road. Until then, there is ample space for plenty of fun to be had. 


Perspectives of the concept…..081117-Backyard-Perspective081114-FrontYardPerspective-summer

Construction begins……



The finished product……a month after installation. I will give everyone an update on the site soon. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saved By The Bell Oil Spill

The gulf coast oil spill, or should I say gushing leak, is no laughing matter.
My friends, however, are a laughing matter.

They are funny.  I mean, every single time I am with them or correspond with them they make me laugh, funny.  It's good to have friends like that!
Below is a conversation that just took place between us via email within a matter of minutes.

Apparently the oil spill episode of Saved By The Bell was so traumatic for everyone in my age bracket that it will be forever imbedded into our brains and hearts.



The following took place between 11:39am and 12:07pm:

Amy P.- Did anyone see the saved by the bell where they struck oil on the football field? 

Jamie S.-Of course! Remember the duck that died?
Susan T.-Stop the drilling.  Stop the oil!!! Get it, Jessi!
Terri W.-I did not. Remember I'm the weird one who did not watch SBTB.
Allison M.-Terri, you should be kicked out of the compound for that. (Blog readers, we have an inside joke that I just made an outside one by sharing this. We tease that we, as a collective FAB unit, are all going to develop a compound and live there together so as to never be separated by jobs, school, husbands, etc. ever again) Bonus points for anyone who can tell me the ducks name...
Abby L.-I think her name was Becky.
Allison M.-VERY GOOD ABBY! I am impressed :) I figured Sus. would be the only one with that level of knowledge.
Jamie S.-Ur so good! I was thinking Mrs. Belding!
Abby L.-What can I say? I am a wealth of useless knowledge. Sus, you should bring your SBTB board game to ATL. Ha.
Susan T.-I totally would have answered.  I missed the question!! An oil-encrusted Becky will always live in my heart.
Leslie S.-Ha, I thought everyone would remember that poor little duck's name! RIP Becky. You would think after all the SBTB gang went through they would be the ones leading the oil clean up effort!
Susan T.-Ser. Jessi is asleep at the wheel on this one. nice.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Space Saving Idea

With all of this going on at the farm a whole bunch of dreaming, planning, building, and sweating has been taking place.

The exterior, as reported by my mother-in-law, was supposed to be completed yesterday!!!!!  We officially have all new windows, new log siding, a newly screened porch, a new covered patio and deck, a new steel roof, and a new bedroom and bathroom. 

To coincide with all of this newness on the exterior, it is time to finish up inside.  As you can tell from the photos above, the cabin is rather small.  The bedroom and bathroom are really small.  They’ll be just the right size for our needs, but they are what I would describe as quaint. 

There is really not any room for the bedroom and bathroom doors to open into those rooms.  We could install traditional interior doors that open out into the one room living area; however, that would take up a significant amount of space.

I ran across this picture below and thought it might be a good space saving idea for us.  What about sliding doors that run flush along the wall???  What do you think?  Neat idea?  Or is it a little weird?


courtesy: Coastal Living