When music executive Joe Galante retired from his post as chairman of Sony Music Nashville in 2010, he and his wife, Phran, were ready to shed their frenetic, high-profile lifestyle. For a fresh start, the couple purchased 1½ acres in the city's quiet Woodmont Estates—a 1937 neighborhood created by Olmsted Brothers to flow with the landscape—tapping Hastings Architecture to design a more intimate home than their existing 13,000-square-foot suburban residence.
According to principal in charge David Powell, the Galantes wanted “an open, sun-drenched house” with ample glazing, around a central courtyard, and maximum privacy—a tall order within their new urban environs.
Situated on a gently sloping site, the 6,500-square-foot, single-story house is tucked behind an expansive paved forecourt and protected by retaining walls to the north and west. In keeping with the client’s request for secluded quarters, the architects devised a 160-foot-long by 16-foot-high cast-in-place concrete wall for the north facade that, in essence, masks the remainder of the house from the street. They veiled this elevation with a sculptural row of weathering-steel panels that, in turn, conceal its only fenestration—a thin band of windows along the main living space inside.
“We discovered the Galantes’ love for masks and illusion,” says Powell, “so we used that as a jumping-off point for the design.”
The load-bearing concrete wall, insulated with a layer of rigid foam, supports the steel structure of the home’s core volume, a spacious living-dining-kitchen area. The building's roof, a folded plane, is visually detached from the large room's periphery by edge skylights and clerestory windows that maximize daylight penetration. Flanking this central space, two wood-frame wings accommodate the master suite, gym, two small guest rooms, and a pair of personal offices.
C-shaped in plan, the three volumes emerge at the rear of the house with glass window walls and doors that open onto a fully furnished and equipped south-facing courtyard. Deep ipé-lined overhangs control solar heat gain and glare and appear to spill into the main space, where the ceiling and floor are surfaced with the same rich wood.
Fittingly, the architects’ imaginative, seclusive strategy is most apparent (and surprising) at the home’s entrance, which is indicated by a raised weathering-steel panel extending out beyond the concrete wall. Pierced with a pixilated pattern of acrylic-rod peepholes, the red lacquer pivot door has no visible hardware. That’s because this large, satiny portal can only be opened from inside. The homeowners enter through the garage.