Making an Entrance

Sonia Thompson

The spirit of Splinter Creek begins at its entrance, where the thought and care given to the entire community shows through in the design of the front gate. Renowned architecture firm Lake Flato, who also created the boathouse, proved in their design there’s no such thing as an unimportant or unconsidered detail.

The front entrance gate of Splinter Creek.

“One of the things about a place is setting the tone from the very beginning, and so, the gate is important,” says Ted Flato, one of the firm’s founders. “It says something about what you’re going to encounter as you go on through it.”

"One of the things about a place is setting the tone from the very beginning," -- Ted Flato, Lake Flato

For us, that means a design that enhances the natural beauty of the area and respects the land. We wanted something that is at home in the South, but with a less refined appearance. The hope is that everyone who drives or walks through it understands that 650 acres of gentle hills and pine forests they are about to encounter is special.

Arkansas field stone makes up part of the Splinter Creek front gate.

The resulting entrance gate design was formed around traditional building elements, primarily local stone. Fulton, Mississippi-based stone mason Michael Stanford of the Fulton Stone Yard created the gates and other low stone walls on the property using Arkansas field stone, which was locally sourced. It was chosen for a simple reason.

“Working with and taking advantage of local materials is just building smartly,” Flato says. “You’re doing it so buildings are more connected to their particular place because materials are of the place, but you’re also taking advantage of the craft that’s there in the area.”

A gabion stone wall adds to the Splinter Creek Community Porch.

In addition to the entrance gates, Lake Flato helped create the look of the gabion stone walls. These gabion walls -- a term that stems from the Italian gabbione, meaning "big cage" -- were constructed throughout Splinter Creek. Also built with locally sourced river rock, they are a unifying design element that carry over from the boathouse to the Community Porch to the gracefully winding roadways.

A gabion stone wall adorns the walkway to the boathouse.

Both the entrance gates and the gabion walls are in keeping with Splinter Creek’s overall modern and minimalist look.

“The objective on all of Splinter Creek was to create something that is specific and particular to that part of Mississippi, but also something that’s fresh and new,” Flato says. "That notion of the gabion kind of landed in that perfect sweet spot."

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