San Juan Island, WA (1993–2003)
Straitsview Farm is a 100 acre farm located in the rain shadow of Washington State’s Olympic Mountains, meaning that it receives a mere 20 inches of rain per year. The goal of the MVVA master plan and its implementation was to let the site's natural resources and its history of cultivation guide the restoration of the landscape.
The island farm landscape runs right down to Puget Sound, with vistas across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic range beyond. Driving along a new entry road through the woods, the landscape opens on a long view across a large collection pond that is designed to be the farm's water storage system. This pond is cooled by the surrounding woods to reduce evaporation and is crossed by a bridge that fords the feeder stream. As one emerges from the evergreen forest into farmland, the road aligns with a half-mile evergreen hedgerow along the eastern edge of the property, providing for view protection and a dramatic counterpoint to the open fields.
Obliquely visible from an architectural compound consisting of main house, guest house, and barn, a pair of new irrigation ponds receives water released by the upper woodland pond as needed. Long and thin, these “whale ponds” were designated an homage to the humpback and gray whales that are frequently visible in the straits below. The water, read as an interruption in the surface of the meadow, imitates the emergence of the whale’s body as it breaches the surface of the water.