Design Leadership Network

FALL 2023

At Water’s Edge: Glenn Gissler Turns a Steep Bank Into a Backyard Escape

by Glenn Gissler

This was a newly built Colonial Revival with almost no landscaping on a three-quarter acre property on the Hudson River. At the back of the house was a very steep, sloping yard to the river and a rickety narrow metal stairway leading to the dock. Our clients were looking to build a sizable pool and cabana, set into the steep slope going down to the river, with stairs to the river’s edge and the dock, and a level yard near the house.

Our biggest challenge was incorporating the engineering and structural aspects of the retaining walls needed to support the pool and house on a steep, sloping yard while maintaining a graceful appearance. This undertaking required a team including a landscape designer, engineer, the pool company, and architects.

The entire process took about a year: We broke ground in the late fall after a few months waiting for permits, had to take a long pause during the harshest days of winter, and started right back in the early spring. The pool and landscape were finished just in time for an early August swim.

Now, the pool area has become somewhat of a private resort; it’s the focus of almost all summer activities. All told, the yard now includes a pool cabana, an infinity edge pool, a variety of covered and open porches and patios, a barbecue area, flower garden, water’s edge walk, a big dock into the river, and a swing all overlooking a spectacular view of the Hudson.