A few years ago, one of Fort Worth architect Norman Ward‘s clients took him to a hilltop that was a part of his family’s ranch. This site was the client’s favorite place on the ranch. Two years later Ward received a call from the client’s father to say that he was developing a small residential community on part of the ranch and that Ward should come out and pick a spot for a home. Ward knew exactly the place he wanted to build his house—on the hilltop that overlooks the rolling hills of Cresson, 24 miles west of Fort Worth.
Ward is fascinated with the landscape and terrain on that hilltop where there are five types of prairie grasses, one of which is Bluestem which thrives in prairie ecosystems. In honor of the grass, the architect named his house Bluestem.
The house is composed of four pavilions that rest under a single low slope roof that echoes the nearby gentle hills. When Ward thought about how to landscape the house he noted that he wanted to feel like a quail in the brush because the idea of nesting in this vast open landscape seemed to be exactly what he was doing.
Ward cut a roof portal with a steel perforated panel above each breezeway to allow the movement of the sun’s light to be cast onto the east and west walls thus creating an awareness of the passage of time. He also raised the walkway under the roof canopy so that it becomes a bridge that connects the landscape on the south with the landscape on the north.
Windows either frame a view or are operable to admit a breeze.
There is weathered limestone in the ravines leading down to the creek near Ward’s house and the architect used the colors for the house. The grey became the color of the concrete masonry inside and outside; the stucco is cream. Because there’s lichen on some of the rocks Ward also used a rust color to complete his color choices.
The living room of the two-bedroom house seems spacious because of floor-to-ceiling windows as well as door frames that reach to the ceiling.
Two breezeways, visually connected on the interiors and open south to north, allow the southern breezeways to flow under the roof canopy
Concrete floors reflect light that pours into the interiors via the entry.
Ward’s studio pavilion is on the right, facing south to a view of the rolling hills.
The pathway through the courtyard is the approximate width of one’s shoulders, which forces people to walk single file through the courtyard.
Landscape at Bluestem is an ongoing project. It was important to Ward that the landscape materials would be believable for the hilltop so he selected plants like yucca and big grasses that would survive without a lot of maintenance.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY RALPH LAUER
THIS POST BROUGHT TO YOU BY THESE GENEROUS SPONSORS: