Text description provided by the architects. Located within the Ozark Mountains the Blessings Golf Clubhouse and Guardhouse is a stand-alone structure set at the base of the hill, with a footprint minimally contacting the land. Acting as a type of covered bridge from the north-facing mountain ridge into the Osage Indian archaeological preservation zone the building creates an entry portal that operates as a breezeway framing the eighteenth green. Conceived as an animate form, the building receives the visitor beneath its cool and shaded underbelly, not unlike the clefts and caves found in the nearby hills.
As winners of a local design competition in Northwest Arkansas for a golf clubhouse, the architects objective was, in the owner’s words, to develop a contemporary structure, unique to the Ozark Mountain region, that resists the prevailing historicist precedents most commonly represented as an antebellum home or a hunting lodge.
The entry portal, paved with stone, provides a transition into the lobby. This entry sequence, together with the parlor and dining room, is choreographed, in section, to slowly reveal controlled views of a Zen garden juxtaposed with the rolling landscape of the golf course and its natural setting. Materials of local hardwoods (cherry and walnut), leather, soft fabrics, and blue stone are composed to give a sense of comfort and dignity that enrich tactile moments at the scale of both the hand and the room.
Located on the second level, the exclusive Men’s Grille provides club members opportunities for social and recreational interaction. Approached from the lobby via a grand stair, the lounge area of the Grille aligns itself with the entry portal below and gives extended panoramic views of the valley through an immense glass curtain wall. A media wall, fireplace, and bar act as independent figural elements that articulate the space providing places for solitude and community. A dropped ‘cloud’ ceiling of walnut plank gives a sense of privacy and intimacy in the custom designed locker area set within the Grille. The wet area, skinned on all surfaces in shades of green-glazed tile, culminates in a double-height sky-lit hot tub. The atmosphere here is intended to be serene…a fusion of color, light, water, and space.
At the exterior of the building, local dry-stacked stone and pre-fabricated copper panels are incorporated as a timeless material palate that will age gracefully with little maintenance. Stone was used to form a strong mass at the base of the clubhouse and at the edge of the cart storage-building wall along the swimming pool. The second-story volume, in standing-seam and flush seam copper panels, sets up views primarily to the golf course through large glass-window walls and porches. The copper volume, in shifts and cantilevers, establishes a detached relationship to its stone base. The foundations of the golf clubhouse were designed to rest on 3 feet of engineered fill, careful not to penetrate into the archaeological zone, thereby preserving the integrity of this ancient site. The building is aligned, along its western edge, with its companion building to the north, the University of Arkansas Razorback Golf Center (completed in 2004). The space between these buildings forms a larger threshold into the valley of the golf course.
The Blessings Golf Clubhouse attempts to demonstrate that a conventional commercial building system can be transfigured into a design solution that recalls a traditional lineage, that of the traditions of the game of golf, while simultaneously transcending traditional responses by commenting on the present. When the owner and originator of the golf facilities first asked us to take part in the design competition for the club I was hesitant, not being a golfer or knowing much about golf. His response was simply “its not just about golf, its about people and space!” As the finished clubhouse comes alive each day with activity and the passing of time, I am reminded that no matter the building type, scope, or size, in the words of Rudolf Schindler, “the perception of architecture is not in the eyes, but in the living.”