Construction at Presentation Academy building
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Arches at Presentation Academy's new building
Arches at Presentation Academy’s new building. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

Brick arches and ornate details can now be found on the corner of Fourth Street and Breckinridge Street in the SoBro neighborhood. Much more brick has been applied to Presentation Academy’s new Arts & Athletics Building since we checked in a couple months ago, and a distinct resemblance to the original Presentation Academy building across the street can now be discerned. A cast stone base was installed a while back (it’s underneath the plastic apron) and the brick facade is nearly complete.

We were struck today at the definite change in street character the newly clad building contributes to Breckinridge Street. Even though this building isn’t all that tall, it definitely addresses its corner site and provides visual interest on the sidewalk level. The old art-deco 900 Building that once stood here was slightly shorter and clad in light limestone. The darkness of the new bricks combined with two other red brick buildings on opposite corners helps to ground the street somehow and helps amplify the lightness of a richly detailed limestone church on the fourth corner.

Equally interesting are new cast details on the new Arts & Athletics Building that are near perfect matches to the original Presentation Academy building. Although the edges of the new details aren’t as sharp as the original hand-carved details (as a result of the casting process), it’s rare to see attention paid at all to such intricate ornaments. Many of the carvings on the original building have chipped and eroded over the years as they appear to be made out of naturally soft sandstone. New new concrete should hopefully hold up for a long time.

The repetition of arches along the sidewalk provides for a dynamic and layered pedestrian experience of the building and is certainly one of the structure’s greatest strengths. Another is its relationship to the corner. Any building situated on a corner parcel in an urban area has a responsibility to turn the corner visually. There are many successful techniques for achieving this, but the new Presentation Academy building chooses an appropriate response. It chamfers the corner and provides an ornamented and taller front entrance at this spot, again with large arched openings.

The most detailed brickwork has yet to be finished at the main and side entrances, but when all the scaffolding has cleared, this should be a nice addition to Presentation and SoBro.

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Branden Klayko

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