To fully appreciate the landscaping work surrounding the home of Robert and Paula Martinez, it is necessary to look at the house as well because the mason, Bob Martinez himself, did a wonderful job of integrating the exterior with the interior. Built out of structural and modular brick, the house has coral rock and quartzite stone incorporated into the brick structure. The residence is enclosed by 1400 square feet of porches covered with quartzite stone and modular brick, enhanced by 14 brick arches with coral rock keys set into the brickwork. Competition judge Dan Shapiro was particularly impressed by the "nice integration of the porch and entry with the exterior landscaping." The interior of the house also has brickwork and other masonry, including two brick arches, a fireplace made of brick columns and southern ledgestone, and a 9-foot-radius glass-block-and-brick shower with marble and ceramic tile.

A creatively designed, freestanding brick garden wall surrounds the front of the 1 1/2-acre property. "His walls are especially nice looking," said Shapiro, who also admired the project's "walking surfaces." This courtyard, which includes about 18,000 brick, features a "French-style" masonry pattern that Martinez devised himself. He alternated 12-inch-long with 6-inch-long (cut) brick, leaving out half and whole units to create a three-course-high cross pattern. Brick columns at the corners of the courtyard and at the gated entranceway are topped with lighted glass block, offering a romantic ambiance after dark. Martinez conceived and constructed the 13 glass-block light fixtures, placing a 75-watt halogen light inside each and running electrical wires through the columns. In addition, he built a brick mailbox and used brick edging and planter boxes in the courtyard to accent the oak trees that beautify his property.

Martinez, who owns Ornamental Brickwork, wanted to create something beautiful for himself and his family-out of the brickwork from which he has proudly earned a living for the past 20 years. It took him 2 1/2 years to design and build this highly personal project, which emerged from his own artistic vision and love of masonry. During that time, he focused exclusively on building his house and did not take on other jobs.

In judging the entry, Pat Rand gave special recognition to the owner's "individual initiative and passion for doing difficult things with masonry and doing them so well."

Project team
Robert and Paula Martinez
Architect: Robert Martinez, owner
Structural engineer: Johnson & Frey Engineering, New Port Richey, Fla.
Masonry contractor:Robert Martinez, Ornamental Brickwork, Port Richey, Fla.
Masonry supplier: Coloroc, Tampa, Florida