Cumberland Journal

Montgomery Bell Academy Wallace Hall

Date: 2011
Client: Montgomery Bell Academy
Location: Nashville
Architect: Hastings Architecture

Wallace Hall — MBA dining facility
Hogwarts. Massive opening. Apex of the ceiling is probably 30 feet. We built these huge trusses that are laminated white oak then panels where they have etched glass that has lasered in all of the graduating classes going back to the 1800s when the school was founded. We made the panels as the backdrop for the etched glass.

The logistics was interesting, mostly because it was such high work. So we had to get the lifts to set everything, but mostly because our paneling had to be cut into supply diffusers. So we would cut out a diffuser and get with the HVAC company and build grills to allow proper airflow. The square footage dictates how big the holes have to be, we would factor that in and cut it out, so you’d have a wood panel that goes up and there would be these grills to allow the HVAC to work.

Zimmerman Room — MBA Board Room

Aside from the Iroquois Room at the Belle Meade Country Club, this is probably the nicest room in Nashville. Classical architecture. We worked with the architect, Hastings Architecture, and they came to us and said hey look, we need help with the proportions for the size of the room so it will be true classical architecture. Primarily, when you work with classical architecture, you look at a house or a pediment of a house and you say, it just looks wrong and it’s always the proportions. So if you have a column, the size of the column is directly proportional to the size of the entablature. The entablature what tops the column with a fascia, a soffit, and the size of the moldings and crown is all tied together with a specific ratio of size to the column. So we worked with them on issues with the limitations on the height of the ceiling, and issues on the windows and where they time out, where do the doors time out. We played a significant role in the design of the moldings and the sizes of it. And it’s all butternut which is very similar to walnut, but a softer, richer brown. But you can’t get butternut in veneer, so it’s all panels, it’s all lumber, consisting of glued up boards, which is very difficult to make. So it was essential old style construction, because back in the 1800s they didn’t have veneers, so this is the way they made panels.

Within the pediments, above the doors and windows, are carvings of oak leaves. We did several of them, and we had a partner that we work with out of Massachusetts do some of the carvings. We did the two that were the focal points over the doors and they did the ones that work all the way around. They are hand carved. The cool thing is, and I always tell people to look, is that we hand drew all the leaves for approval from the architect. They are oak leaves and acorns, and if you look closely every so often you’ll see twigs and acorns, and in about two or three spots the acorns are missing and there’s just the cap, like it would be in nature. So there are two or three acorns missing and you have to really look to find them.