August 03, 2015

New Gold House to Glorify Nature

By Tom Bailey, Jr.
– The Commercial Appeal –

The same architect who designed Bill Gates’ $100 million residence is choreographing an “experience” for a private golf club near Collierville.

James Cutler has not merely drawn plans for a beautiful golf house of glass, stone and exposed Douglas fir trusses at Spring Creek Ranch.

He has plotted what he hopes to be a dramatic transition for everyone who enters the property off Collierville-Arlington Road.

One of Cutler’s favorite movie scenes occurs in “The Wizard of Oz when the film suddenly switches from black-and-white to color as Dorothy lands in Oz.

That’s the kind of eye-opening change Cutler has tried to orchestrate five miles north of Collierville.

“The first time you walk in that front door; you are going to go, ‘Aaahhh!’ predicted the 55-year-old from Bainbridge Island, Washington.

“He’s not talking so much about the golf house, although he and his Cutler Anderson Architects firm design as many award-winning structures as just about anyone.

Rather the wow-factor will be the beautiful woods and lush valley that his design reveals.

Cutler worries about the future because of urban sprawl, overpopulation and global warming.

He fights back with the overarching goal of his work, which is to reveal the beauty of nature so that it stirs an emotional response.

He wants his work to help connect people with nature.

“Where our hearts go, our minds and actions will follow,” he wrote in the foreword of a 2003 book showcasing his work.

Construction on the golf house has started and should be complete by late next summer, said Robb Meyer, project manager for the six year old golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Spring Creek’s members and guests will start experiencing Cutler’s work as soon as they turn onto the drive off Collierville-Arlington Rd.

He’ll take them on a road that winds through a heavily shaded thicket of tall trees.

As they approach the L-shaped golf house, first by car and then by foot, they will walk from the forest’s shade toward the natural light shining through the front door.

“You open up that door, and here the whole golf course will spread out 180 degrees,” Cutler said.

The golf house will be perched on a high spot overlooking a lush green valley of fairways, lakes, streams and woods.

“The intent is to reveal the forest by contrast with the opening of the golf course and reveal the golf course in a way that it’s a powerful and emotional experience,” he said.

Cutler studied under the influential Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. Memphis architect Jim Williamson was a classmate and remains an old friend of Cutler’s.

“I think it’s fair to say that he’s one of the most widely recognized architects of the current generation,” Williamson said.

“Jim (Cutler) has found a way to very powerfully integrate building with the natural world. In many cases it’s fair to say the natural character of the site is improved by his buildings.”

Cutler acknowledges that initially relatively few people will experience his golf house at the exclusive Spring Creek.

“If it’s really exemplary, it finds its way out to the world,” Cutler said. “That’s the intent, to try to do exemplary work.”