Glen Lake Great Lake Story 2017
Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four
Chapter Five | Final Chapter
Collectively recommended by project architect Joseph Mosey, R. A., builder Eric Render and interior designer Nicole Withers, ASID, principal designer Jeffrey Hennig of Environmental Artists in Leland branched into the challenge of recrafting Mike and Molly Beauregard’s storm-battered site for their New England getaway on Glen Lake.
“Simply put, I refer Jeff on every project where I know the clients are serious about creating an integrated and beautiful landscape,” shared Mosey. “Jeff’s approach to site design is very complex and has many layers, but at a basic level, his designs emanate from the architecture of the site.”
This includes natural site features and man-made structures including buildings, topography, natural land forms and existing foliage, he noted. “There is nothing random,” Mosey said. “Jeff’s designs feel integrated in to the natural landscape, but further, make our buildings feel integrated in to the landscape.”
As diligent and team-driven as the Beauregards’ architect in Northville, builder in Traverse City and long- aligned interior designer based in the couple’s home city of Birmingham, Hennig infused his own unique brand of ingenuity to enhance the project: an authentic wood-shake, Nantucket-style house that recalled the essence of more than a decade that Mike, Molly and their three now-grown kids had first happily lived, then annually vacationed at a family cottage on the East Coast.
The couple wanted their new, much closer-by retreat to be that great kind of traditional Shingle-style home they always saw and loved built up on fieldstone, with sweeping views and a sense of history.
“This house has a soul,” said Hennig, who first visited the Beauregards’ long, narrow stretch of undulating land on Glen Lake while clean-up of debris and trees downed by the severe winds of early August ’15 was underway. “What did we want its story to be?”
If this cottage had been built in the 1900s, he noted, its surroundings would be elegant but understated. Led by this aesthetic, Hennig studied the site, took cues from the architecture and began working the gestalt of place backward in time.
To illustrate: Reclaimed granite cobblestone from Boston streets over a century old were imperfectly reconstructed as the forecourt of the house to suggest the remains of an antiquated barn floor. “What it all comes down to is a specific feeling from experiencing the place as a whole,” he said.
The methods Hennig’s firm utilizes to create their work are cutting edge. The geometry of the site, architectural plans and surrounding properties are mapped within an inch and built into a 3-D working model. Drone ortho-photography, data point clouds and various software allows them to test the vision and emotional responses down to the sunlight on a particular day and specific hour of the year.
Jeff ’s designs feel integrated in to the natural landscape, but further, make our buildings feel integrated into the landscape. They are often an extension of the geometrics of our structures and link site and building in
a way very few designers can.
— Joseph Mosey, Architect
Hennig also projected ratios and proportions that Mosey used into the landscape. “Great architects like Joe follow certain rules of design,” he noted. “Hidden within his architecture are reference lines that showed where to end this arc, set the level of a grade plane or even determine the height of new plantings. It’s the underlying math that makes things beautiful.”
The opening act of this landscape scheme is a park-like, elliptical-shaped green surrounded by a narrow one-way gravel drive that wraps up to the cobblestone forecourt. Large, old-growth trees that were saved look like they actually grew into the green and forecourt over the years.
“As you pull into the property, it looks pretty humble,” noted Hennig, whose insightful centering of the green on the home’s axis (through the front door and out the back) set the scene for everything surrounding it. “You approach the green on this two-track gravel driveway that feels like it’s always been there.”
Winding toward the home, Hennig has limited the site’s palate of plant material to perhaps only six or seven species, but he’s set them en masse: Large stands of juneberry, tamarack, witch hazel, white pine and spruce each put on powerful shows that span the four seasons.
Evoking a sense of the Hamptons, Environmental Artists also built precise grade planes on the lake side for sprawling terraces including a beveled grass slope, a flat game lawn further down toward the lake and an almost entirely level beach.
“Our way of thinking and design processes are complex,” Hennig reflected. “But the end result appears very simple, and the fact is, you may not even know we were here.”
Learn more about each of the team members who crafted the Beauregards’ retreat on Glen Lake in BLUE’s upcoming Fall Issue 2017 (October/November).
Great Lake Story is a continuing series chronicling exceptional waterfront homes and those who design, build and own them. Find out more at Michigan BLUE at mibluemag.com.