One contemporary term I loathe is the word “starchitect.” It presumes that the creation of any piece of architecture is a solo act when, in fact, it’s a team sport. It takes many hands to formulate a built project. Like-mindedness is crucial in creating a seamless project.
Untitled 1On our design paths, we sometimes meet similar souls; recognition sparks and at once, our efforts are made better. Such was the case 20 years ago (wow, time flies) when we met Ben Page and Gavin Duke of Page Duke Landscape Architects. Ours was such a natural marriage, we immediately set off together on a slate of projects – Memphis, Charlotte, Nashville – a design tour de South.

On all these projects, Page Duke was brilliant at beautifully completing our sentences. Where the design of the house ended, their work began. They picked up our thoughts and ideas, harmoniously continuing them into the natural environment. The end result is a coherently orchestrated world – attitudes which began inside, meander outside and find themselves at home there, too.

One of our most ambitious collaborations with Page Duke was the design of an estate in Mountain Brook Alabama. Located on 14 plum acres in the middle of a tony 1920s neighborhood, the Owners of this house awarded us the challenge of creating a house of fine lineage. This lovely hillside site was to be our canvas and authentic materials (stone, timber, slate, steel) were to be our paints. The sizable program resulted in a design of a main house, formal in nature, with romantic out-buildings rambling casually out into the landscape. The landscape design mirrors these attitudes perfectly, formal language is spoken, but an immediate apology follows. Photographs of Ben and Gavin’s masterful work on this epic project are included in this journal entry,

Once you’ve discovered a partner of great alliance, other people recognize this and seek reasons to join you again. As fate may have it, new clients will marry us and like any old friendship, we pick up right where we left off. We share tales of recent journeys and show each another what we’ve recently learned.

Musician and lyricist in place, a new song begins.

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Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. LReeve says:

    Beautifully written. Have admired both you and Page Duke for years. Love seeing the collaborations.

  2. Had I not read your post I would have assumed this estate was a historic home located someplace in Europe. What a spectacular property. Clearly the collaboration between you and Page Duke was brilliant.

  3. Absolutely beautiful! Would love to see pictures of the trees and other shrubbery are in full bloom.

  4. Trudy Crock says:

    What a soulful and simpatico collaboration! The stone walls lovingly caress the land as well as your spectacular buildings. So harmonious and beautifully executed. Like any successful marriage, it is not about oneupmanship or competition. Healthy partners elevate, nurture, respect and inspire each other to greater heights. How blessed you are to have found each other. May you enjoy many, many more years of wedded bliss!

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