Camiros, Ltd. and William R. James
West Bench Project Analysis; Salt Lake City, UtahClient: Private

Client: Salt Lake County, Utah
Engineer: Wilbur Smith Associates
Consultant: Bay Area Economics
Category: Planning & Analysis

Charged with entitling a proposed development situated along the west side of the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, Salt Lake County representatives commissioned the landscape architect for advice on how to respond, as this was no ordinary development plan. It encompassed 75,000 acres and contained a program calling for 200,000 residential units and 59 million square feet of commercial and industrial space. The plan was to take the form of a series of new, transit-oriented development (TOD) towns at the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains.
Exceptional in many respects, the West Bench Project Analysis holds great significance at the local, regional, and national levels. At its core, it represents a framework for the application of an established regional smart growth strategy. Building on that strategy, and the planning initiatives and TOD prototypes it launched for the greater West Bench area, the West Bench Project Analysis advanced specific proposals for public policy to facilitate and manage TOD development in this rapidly growing region.
Specific goals for the project analysis included:

  • establishment of policies and prototypes for TOD towns to be established around light rail line extensions
  • analysis of projected development impacts including fiscal, economic, transit/traffic, and land use
  • preparation of ordinances to manage development and to establish entitlement
  • advisement on future development entitlement issues
  • preparation of a ‘toolbox' of analysis and management products to monitor and manage development over time

The unique size and scope represents a singular opportunity to shape quality of life on a regional scale. The project breaks new ground through the translation of a series of abstract TOD planning principles into actual development policies supported by ordinances and agreements. In doing so, the project establishes the regulatory framework necessary to facilitate the kind of transit-oriented development envisioned in the regional growth management process.

This private residence in Harbor Springs, Michigan, is distinctly Midwestern; unfussy and seamless, enclosed and expansive. It honors both the architecture and the surrounding rural landscape.

The project is located on ten acres in a semi-rural area peppered with farm fields, woods, and prairie. Past the remnants of the site's history-an old barn, crumbling stone walls, and outbuildings covered in vines-the entry drive leads to the reveal of a contemporary house and central courtyard space. To the east of the house, a sunken lawn and elongated lap pool are surrounded by rich swaths of Russian sage and native grasses. To the west, a terrace marked with a bosque of maples through which one views the native landscape in the distance.

A kind of ‘planned indifference' unfolds throughout the landscape to allow the sophisticated house to meet the landscape in an honest way that is both vernacular and artful. Extensions of the architecture, the home's exterior spaces are complementary in form, scale, and materials. This symbiotic relationship of space is a direct result of early collaboration between the landscape architect, architect, interior designer, and client to create a seamless environment between interior and outdoor spaces, and enhance views from within the home.

Stone walls define the ‘edges' of these programmed spaces and provide a transition from structure to expanse. As the landscape moves away from the house and these boundaries, it becomes increasingly less stylized, blending into the area's inherent characteristics in both form and native plant palette. There is a constant push-pull between the natural and designed, between chaos and control.