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Cheekwood announces seven winning designs for 2012 treehouses exhibition
This year’s crop of submissions was reviewed by a panel of 6 judges, including Bob Oglesby, Gary Gaston, Clay Bright, Carol Nelson, Jennifer Smith, and Jane Offenbach. The judges reviewed 27 designs from Nashville architectural firms, choosing the seven winners based on creativity, imagination, interactivity, visual appeal/aesthetics, family appeal, in addition to many other criteria.


NASHVILLE, TN.- Cheekwood has selected seven designs to be constructed for its 2012 summer outdoor exhibition, Treehouses. Opening May 26 and running through September 2, the exhibition will feature large-scale outdoor treehouse structures inspired by great works of literature.

This year’s crop of submissions was reviewed by a panel of 6 judges, including Bob Oglesby, Gary Gaston, Clay Bright, Carol Nelson, Jennifer Smith, and Jane Offenbach. The judges reviewed 27 designs from Nashville architectural firms, choosing the seven winners based on creativity, imagination, interactivity, visual appeal/aesthetics, family appeal, in addition to many other criteria.

“Cheekwood is once again pleased to offer the Nashville community an entertaining and educational outdoor exhibition that the entire family can enjoy this summer,” said Hillary Steinwinder, Director of Education and Public Programs.

This year’s installation will be part of a season-long literary focus, in celebration of Cheekwood’s new Sigourney Cheek Literary Garden, opening May 19. The exhibition will also celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the first summer exhibition at Cheekwood, Terrific Treehouses.

In conjunction with the Treehouses exhibition, Cheekwood’s spring and summer programming will include a photography exhibit organized by the Cultural Landscape Foundation titled Every Tree Tells a Story (May 26 – September 2), which will focus on trees associated with historically important people and events that have shaped communities and cultures. The Temporary Contemporary gallery will also host Anthology, (March 24 – September 2) a collection of modern paintings by Hans Schmitt-Matzen, inspired by the spatial experience of being in a library.

The winning Treehouses designers and their stories are:

The Rainbow Fish
Firm: Tuck-Hinton Architects


Designers: Dale Brackeen, Josh Hughes, Curtis Lesh, Rich McCoy, Adam Nicholson, Blake Rutland, Scott Wenz, Janie Wright and Oren Yarbrough; Salem Forsythe, Contractor

"The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left and right, and the more he gave away, the more delighted he became. When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he at last felt at home among the other fish." – Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish, 1992

Inspired by a simple, beloved children’s story about sharing, this treehouse will create a friendly space for children and adults to play. Guests will enter the mouth of the Rainbow Fish via an ADA-compliant ramp; once inside, they will peer down to the water’s edge to see their own reflections. Inside the fish, children will find shiny, detachable scales to “share” with other, smaller fish placed within the surrounding landscape. Just as the Rainbow Fish in the story shares his scales with others, children will role-play the story’s message of sharing and friendship around the grounds at Cheekwood.

The Jolly Roger
Firm: ESa


Designers: Lee Davis, David Joffe, Jessi Menish and Jeremy Thompson

Inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, 1911.

Cheekwood visitors of all ages will be invited on a high seas adventure through Neverland on board the infamous ship of Captain Hook. Reflecting the novel’s themes of youth and young at heart, this treehouse will invite hours of imaginative play. Turning the ship’s wheel will change the direction of the compass, and a look through the cannon sights will reveal painted images depicting scenes from the book. As children assume the roles of Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook and Tinkerbell, the century-old story of Peter Pan and Wendy will come to life every day at Cheekwood.

Ocean of Notions
Firms: Hawkins Partners, Manuel Zeitlin Architecture, Nashville Civic Design Center


Designers: Brian Phelps (HP); Leslie Beeman, Mark Bixler, Michael Goorevich and Manuel Zeitlin (MZA); and Betsy Mason (NCDC)

“He looked into the water and saw that it was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different colour, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity; and Iff explained that these were the Streams of Story, that each coloured strand represented and contained a single tale.” --Salman Rushdie, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, 1991

The inspiration for this treehouse is the magical “Sea of Stories” encountered by Haroun and his storytelling father, Rashid, in Salman Rushdie’s only published children’s book. As visitors explore this structure, they will find a giant, twisted ball of vibrantly colored ropes, representing stories flowing together in different streams. Children will climb in and play the role of Mali, the Floating Gardener, untangling the stories and watching them unfold.

Up and Down Again, A Hobbit's Tale
Firm: PLAD Studio, PLLC

Designers: Takuma Johnson and Max Plummer

Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, 1937

A true feast for the senses, this treehouse structure will feature an underground retreat, slide, living wall, wooden fort, tunnel, ramp, climbing space and a garden landscape, all designed for hands-on exploration. The inviting sculptural form will emerge seamlessly from the ground, wrap between two trees and reach toward an adjacent pond, creating two worlds: one above and one below. Cheekwood’s guests will delight in climbing, sliding, and discovering a secret passage as they experience both the underground world of the Hobbit’s hole and the beautiful view from the top of the treehouse.

Walden Treehouse
Firm: Pfeffer Torode Architecture


Designer: Jamie Pfeffer

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Inspired by this quote from Thoreau’s famously introspective work, this back-to-nature treehouse will take its visitors high up into the tree canopy to a fairytale retreat, designed in a romantic architectural style. When visitors climb up to the floating house, they will find the perfect setting for daydreaming and coming back to earth inspired.

Conch House
Firm: Anne Daigh Landscape Architect, LLC and Pfeffer Torode Architecture


Designers: Anne Daigh and Jamie Pfeffer

"His ordinary voice sounded like a whisper after the harsh note of the conch. He laid the conch against his lips, took a deep breath and blew once more. The note boomed again: and then at his firmer pressure, the note, fluking up an octave, became a strident blare more penetrating than before." -- William Golding, Lord of the Flies, 1954

Cheekwood’s curious visitors will be drawn to this giant, stark white canvas shell, representing the symbol of democracy, leadership and purity among the self-governing group of deserted boys in the famous William Golding novel. This structure will encourage children to assemble before entering to create rules for their own “tribe”. Once inside, the first child to reach the top platform will blow the horn and become “chief.” The structure itself will lure visitors from across the grounds, with its large, solid surface creating a striking contrast against the soft garden landscape.

The Giver Tree House
Firm: Chasm Architecture LLC; Bell Construction, Building partner


Designer: Travis Parker

Inspired by Lois Lowry’s The Giver, 1993

The layout of this treehouse will be based on the experiences of Jonas, Lowry’s main character, who navigates a world of Sameness and wrestles with the knowledge of a fuller and more vibrant life. The entrance of the structure will be plain and unadorned, painted in grays and whites to represent the Sameness. As the visitor journeys further through the house, the space will fill with color and life, ending with a joyful slide through a colorful wall.






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