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Fabric structures shield members from errant golf balls

Exteriors, Features | July 1, 2008 | By:

A prestigious country club in Oregon calls for fabric structures to protect members and their expensive cars from errant golf balls.

In April 2005, I received a call from Howard McKee, architect for Bandon Dunes Resort, saying he had a problem that he thought I might be interested in solving. Mike Keiser, the Chicago greeting card entrepreneur and golf enthusiast, had created three world-class public golf courses on the southern coast of Oregon, near Bandon, Oregon. They had become highly acclaimed and financially successful, but they had a problem. The first hole was located very close to the general parking lot, and thus was regularly taking incoming errant golf balls. Not only was it a concern for the many often very expensive parked cars, but it also risked injuring the patrons.

Howard asked if I would design several fabric structures to offer protection for the cars and people at risk of being wacked in the parking lot. Of course, I was intrigued by the project, visited the resort and went to work. Landscape architect, Bruce Johnson gave me a tour of the site, supplied documentation and explained the detailed scope of the problem. The site is a landscape of undulating sand dunes on bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, one of stunning views and immense scale. The climate is mild and affords a long playing season.

I designed two solutions.

The first is a tall undulating wall, 18–24m high, constructed of wood timbers and a windowed scrim stressed fabric intended to shield the parking lot but also to act as a landmark both by land and sea. When illuminated at night it would be seen from a great distance as a sculptural element in the dune landscape on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The second solution is a canopy designed to cover the entire parking lot that protects cars/people from errant balls but also provides a large open pavilion for the variety of events and programs that take place at the resort. Again, the structure is constructed entirely of large dimension poles and timbers that refer to the dramatic forest landscape for which Oregon is so famous. In this case, the stressed fabric membrane can be either shade material or a water tight vinyl/polyester or Teflon-coated glass.

I presented two large models at the resort in August 2005 and they were well received. However, there was a third option under consideration: moving the first hole. In late September, they decided that moving the hole would be their best option. End of story — at least for now.

Kent Hubbell is an architect and the dean of students at Cornell University, New York. He has designed numerous tensile structures, most notably the Chene Park Amphitheater in Detroit, Michigan, designed in collaboration with Schervish, Vogel, Merz and structural engineers Robert Darvas Assoc.

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