The Gateway project would involve the transformation of the area where Lenox Road meets Ga. 400, which is essentially the interstate entrance into Buckhead.
“The problem is we have a very harsh entry into Buckhead,” Drey, who owns the company d + e = design environment, said Tuesday at the Buckhead Community Improvement District’s monthly board meeting at Tower Place in Buckhead. “There is a concrete-scape 450 feet across. … It’s also confusing.”
He said there would be two aspects of the gateway design, including landscape traditions and innovative “forward-thinking” architecture.
“First, I’m thinking about how beautiful the landscape is, of the houses in Buckhead,” Drey said. “At the same time, I’m looking at the shiny, modern, futuristic, glamorous part of Buckhead, with the upscale shopping and living. … These give us the foundation to begin development of concepts to localize and humanize it.”
He said the gateway would be much greener with a sense of reduced scale, even though traffic lanes will remain the same. His proposal has several parts to it, he said.
“We want to widen the bridge deck, so there’s accommodations of the side of the road beds for future crossings,” Drey said. “We want to rope existing concrete beams into the design aesthetic by echoing them on either side with gabions in the landscape, … with plantings placed on islands.”
He also said the plan calls for ornamental fencing to bring a sense of elegance and refinement, as well as tall trees by each side of the outermost turn lanes.
“It’s so the motorist is rounding the corner and he feels like he is pulling to a side street, as opposed to being on the bridge,” Drey said. “It provides a nice frame to the interior of the bridge.”
He also said the plan will provide people the opportunity to link from PATH 400, the planned pedestrian/bicycle trail, across to Phipps Plaza.
“My hope would be that this would say it all,” said district Executive Director Jim Durrett, nixing an old idea of putting up a Buckhead entrance sign.
The estimated cost of the gateway project is about $5 million, he said.
“We wanted to get [the board] comfortable with the concept to begin building up our case for funding and constructing this,” Durrett said. “Everyone’s generally supportive of this direction.”
All district members agreed they would support the project as it moves along.