By Maria Saporta
Upon being presented the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Visionary Award,” veteran architect Tom Ventulett shared one of his pet peeves – the ugliness of our highways.
Ventulett, a co-founder of the Atlanta-based TVSdesign architectural firm, first pushed back against him receiving the award.
“When I heard about this award, I couldn’t figure it out,” Ventulet said during dinner at the Atlanta History Center Thursday night. “It’s not the architect that’s the visionary, it’s the client.”
After thanking a number of professionals with whom he has worked during his career, Ventulett made a personal plea – showing why he was deserving of the Visionary Award.
“I just want to make a plea to this powerful group,” Ventulett said. “Our expressway system is ugly, and it’s getting uglier. It’s something we need to watch. Let’s do something to give a better image of the city.”
In particular, Ventulett mentioned the unattractive sound barriers that exist along the borders of several of our city’s interstates.
Ventulett then talked about a recent trip to Europe where he saw sound barriers in Switzerland and France where there were openings in retaining walls where people had planted flowers and ivy. That softened the barriers and made for a much more pleasant travel experience.
In some cases, glass elements were added to blend the walls with the horizon and the natural elements of the environment.
“Somebody is thinking (in France and Switzerland),” Ventulett said. “Nobody (here) is thinking about what we are putting up. The interchange of 400 and I-285 is really ugly.”
And then Ventulett ended up sharing a comment that could be applied to just about any part of our built environment.
“If you are going to build it, make it beautiful,” Ventulett said. “But for God’s sake, if it’s ugly – don’t build it.”
Spoken like a visionary architect.
Here are some alternatives for sound barriers that I found in a google search: