Small backyard wins landscape award
Architectural Gardens of Lake Forest, Ill., has won an Excellence in Landscape Award transforming a featureless backyard into an urban-like outdoor living area.
AG’s award-winning project was styled to bring the feeling of an urban rooftop garden to a standard suburban backyard.
Owner and designer Margaret Morrissette removed all traces of a typical suburban backyard — lawn, deck, storage shed and paving brick. The re-design effectively screens out views of the neighbors’ houses and garages and instead focuses on the space within, particularly the ground plane. The surrounding mature trees in the neighborhood are metaphorically like the skyscrapers of the famous Chicago skyline.
The small square yard was subdivided into distinct outdoor rooms for grilling and dining, a place for growing herbs (potted), a teen lounge and a comfortable area for entertaining guests around a large masonry fireplace. Structures and surfaces serve dual purposes; the tall fireplace serves as a privacy screen, large tubs of culinary herbs divide the grilling area from the dining area, the patio surface of natural stone adds beauty — both unifying and sub-dividing the space according to use, as well as directing flow. Trees inserted between spaces act like architectural columns and help to balance the mass of paving stones.
Menards to take on Detroit
Midwestern retailer Menards is planning four stores in the Detroit market, where it currently has no presence, according to an article in the Detroit News.
Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott told the newspaper that the home improvement chain hopes to open stores in Warren, Livonia, Belleville and Chesterfield Township sometime next year.
In Metro Detroit, residential building permits rose 25% in 2011, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. But high unemployment persists, affecting the overall economy.
Residential construction rises in April
Figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department put overall construction spending during April 2012 at $820.7 billion, a 0.3% rise over the adjusted figures for construction spending in March 2012.
Spending on private construction was reported at $549.7 billion, 1.2% above the revised March estimate of $543.4 billion. Residential construction saw some of the biggest gains at $256.1 billion during April 2012, a 2.8% increase over the previous month.
Non-residential construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $293.6 billion in April, 0.2% below the revised March estimates.
In public construction, the estimated annual rate of spending was $271.0 billion, 1.4% below the revised March estimate. Educational construction was almost flat at 0.9 %. Highway construction was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $77.3 billion, or 0.4% above the revised March estimate of $77.0 billion.