Case Study Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Designer Showhouse

Case Study

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Designer Showhouse

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra partnered with Atlanta Magazine to design and build the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Designer Showhouse. The city of Atlanta is known for its rich music and arts culture, so the Showhouse needed to honor the Symphony’s glorious past and brilliant future. That’s why the project required the expertise of Atlanta’s best designers, who could bring a completely unique approach that wouldn’t detract from its cultural significance.

The region’s most talented designers contributed to this historical project, and the results are impressive. 

The project’s head architect was inspired by classical composers to create what Atlanta Magazine called an “architectural masterpiece.” Atlanta is known for its stately and stunning architecture, but Robert Tretsch III, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Modern Studio Director of Harrison Design, envisioned a residential design that wasn’t so traditional. 

“We wanted a modern, contemporary design for the Showhouse,” says Tretsch. The end result also needed to inspire a fresh audience and new patrons for the Orchestra. The style of the Showhouse is a nod to modern design and appeals to a younger Atlanta demographic who might not know about the depth or history of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

Tretsch wanted a façade that would intrigue visitors: “I knew I wanted an exterior material that was reflective, and I thought about glass, but couldn’t use that all over the exterior because I had a budget to work with.” 

A few months prior, the head architect was referred to Nichiha’s Miraia line of fiber cement architectural wall panels for another project he was leading. “I didn’t use them in that project, but when the time came for specifying materials on the Showhouse, I realized Miraia might just be the right fit.” 

Miraia fiber cement panels were so groundbreaking when the line launched that it was featured among Architect Magazine's favorite finds at the AIA Conference Expo in 2018.

“The panels were perfect,” said Tretsch.

The fiber cement cladding delivers a glossy, sleek style to buildings of any type. “They’re used in commercial designs, but not usually on homes,” says Tretsch. Miraia panels are a great budget-conscious alternative to other exterior products and offer a low-maintenance cladding option that plays well with other materials, especially the brick and concrete used on the Showhouse exterior.

The panels gave Robert Tretsch the reflective visual surface that he was after without the cost or maintenance of glass or metal cladding. The impressive black panels enhance the style on the rest of the front exterior, creating a dramatic entryway to the Showhouse. 

The drama and character behind the design don’t end there, however: Entering the home reveals one delight after another. “Approach the door, and you’ll immediately feel tricked,” writes Mike Jordan for Curbed, “because the front exterior is hiding a 6,995-square-foot interior with lots of natural light and loads of smart-home technology, while balancing creative energy, whimsical sophistication, and modern-classic appeal.” 

The 65-foot pool is another nice surprise and offers an additional reflective medium in which light can bounce and play around the home -- further reinforcing the original architectural vision for modernity and reflection.

Some of Atlanta’s most renowned professionals helped to create the stunning and glamorous interior design in the Showhouse. Each room showcases the unique vision of Atlanta interior home design, a testament to the history of excellence in Georgia’s capital city. 

While the project and its many moving parts certainly made for a complex construction process, Nichiha panels helped to smooth out the installation for the builder, ADCO Properties. “It went up really fast,” remarked Tretsch.

Nichiha panels are easy to install, which is great for installers and builders. But fiber cement cladding also provides a highly durable solution for exterior protection. 

“The rainscreen protection that Nichiha provides is excellent,” assures Tretsch. Because the Showhouse exterior is enhanced by fiber cement cladding, the owners can expect uncompromising aesthetics and exterior protection for decades, even in Atlanta’s warm, wet climate. 

The glossy Miraia panels used on the exterior are a first for residential design here in the States, making the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Designer Showhouse one of a kind.

When asked if he had any trepidation about his choice of exterior cladding, Robert Tretsch shook his head confidently and said, “When I saw the first section of the panels go up, I was elated. It did everything I wanted it to do.” 

“When I saw the first section of the panels go up, I was elated. It did everything I wanted it to do.”
Robert Tretsch III | Harrison Design
The Challenge

To honor the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s history and celebrate its future, the new Showhouse project was launched with local designers. The Showhouse design needed to evoke the tradition and culture of Atlanta, but architects also wanted a modern exterior that was stylish, functional and easy-to-install.

The Solution

The design team selected the glass-inspired Miraia panels from Nichiha. The panels’ reflective surface delivers a sleek, contemporary exterior to the front facade of the Showhouse. Nichiha’s panels were also more affordable and smoother to install than glass or other exterior material alternatives.

The Results

The Miraia panels delivered “perfect” results, according to the project’s architect. The low-maintenance but high-class cladding panels offer a totally unique style to the Showhouse, the very first of its kind in U.S. residential design.

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