The best friend on earth of man is the tree: when we use the tree respectfully and economically we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.
Situated adjacent to Teton County’s busiest highway, the Rendezvous Bistro provides customers with a warm, inviting atmosphere that starts with the distinguished architecture of the landscape. As you enter Jackson from the south along Highway 89, the Rendezvous Bistro is the first architecturally significant building. Situated along the bend that transitions you into the heart of Jackson, the building is displayed prominently, yet subtlety blended into the landscape.
The site of a former Denny’s, the Rendezvous Bistro is sandwiched between nondescript, commercial box buildings and Highway 89. The decision to keep the existing building created a large challenge for the team of designers. As architect Peggy Gilday of Gilday Architects (formerly of Tobler Duncker Architects) described, the challenge was to “de-Dennyize the location that had been known as Denny’s while creating an inviting,French Bistro atmosphere with a modern twist.”
The site featured its own challenges of overcoming the bland, suburban, corporate landscape where a large, plastic sign was the only feature meant to entice patrons. Harry Statter of The Tree and Landscape Company (TLC) started from scratch and sought to match the rustic yet modern appeal of the structure while creating a contemporary landscape that would stand out from its surroundings and blend into the regional vernacular.
This was accomplished by using a variety of scale and texture in plant materials together with innovative hardscape. The larger spruce and aspen trees provide a visual barrier between the large buildings to the north and south while the tall bunch grasses and day-lilies provide the perfect amount of separation between the highway and the restaurant. Two mature Douglas Hawthorne trees were chosen for their size and texture to directly compliment the architecture of the building while transitioning between the large scale trees and the grasses on the ground plane.
The signature plant material used on the project was the Karl Foerster grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’) — bringing a previously unexplored texture and landscape motif to Jackson Hole. Karl Foerster grass is known for its upright architecture and feathery texture of the seed heads. The seeds of the non-native Karl Foerster are not considered invasive, which is a large factor in the delicate ecosystem of Jackson Hole. TLC considered the use of other bunch grasses such as Basin Wild-Rye, but ultimately decided to incorporate Karl Foerester into the design. This was not without risk, as Karl Foerster grass is characterized with hardiness to zone 4-5 where Jackson was 3a. TLC took the chance to include the grass by considering to the local heat island effect from nearby parking lots, as well as the consideration that the USDA’s plant hardiness zones are shifting slightly, putting Jackson into zone 3 to 4a.