Located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta’s Art’s Center District, our team was entrusted with a critical design challenge to convert and transform an existing un-occupied and unrecognized building into a viable building asset that was both fitting for its location in midtown and new office tenant occupancy.
The existing building, built in the 1960’s consisted of a large precast façade with only two windows that faced Peachtree Street, ribbon windows on the North and South building facades, and an existing unwelcoming pedestrian plaza that was cut off from the street. The reposition of 1372 Peachtree balances design with functional requirements and our client’s real estate strategies. In order to fully realize its value, 1372 Peachtree had to be desirable to today’s office user, which is achieved through density. This occupancy requirement resulted in a landmark design opportunity. Rather than just adding an egress stair for functional use, the design team chose to celebrate the stair; providing an iconic design feature, that defines the new building elevation and utilizes lighting and color to draw visitors in both day and night.
The final design solution removed the existing precast façade and replaced it with a highly transparent curtainwall system that creates a much-needed visual connection from the building to its surroundings. The design team opted to celebrate the new egress stair and make it a focal point that’s fully integrated with the overall composition of the architectural reposition. The design and detail of the stair was carefully evaluated to be economical in cost but not in appearance. The new stair is shrouded by a custom louvered screen wall system that helps to buffer and soften visibility of the stair from the street, while the back wall of the stair area is painted a vibrant golden-yellow color which visually filters through the screen and stair architecture.
The new building entrance seamlessly transitions to stadium seating providing Midtown with its own outdoor living room. Through the integration of lighting into the hardscape, use of modern materials including crushed granite, board-formed concrete, and wood, our team transformed the public realm in front of the building into an amenity that serves both patrons of the building and the general public.
During the early stages of the design process with building ownership, it was brought to the design team’s attention that WeWork was interested in occupying the entire building because they felt that the proposed renovations to the building would be an ideal match for their third Atlanta location. Subsequently, WeWork decided to occupy the entire building and the same design team was retained as the architect of record, responsible for the interior fit-out of the office space. Now designated as WeWork’s southeast headquarters building, 1372 Peachtree has experienced a transformation from a derelict and unrecognized building to an invigorated and engaging urban reposition that has effectively realized and added a “new building” to midtown Atlanta’s stock.
Design ChallengeOne challenge presented early on had to do with the density of potential office tenants that would occupy the building; as the egress capacity of the existing stairs was not sufficient for higher densities seen in current office space environments. In order to address this challenge, it was essential that an additional stair be incorporated into the building. The design team chose for the stair to be outside the building footprint to maximize existing square footage and it also provided an opportunity to celebrate the new stair and make its connectivity a centerpiece of the new façade, with its architectural louver screen system and brightly illuminated wall.
Working with an existing building and in an urban site always has its challenges and this site is no exception. With parking located under the building, special attention was given to maintaining the integrity of the building as improvements were made. With narrow frontage, significant amount of program needed to fit along the Peachtree façade, including an existing transformer. The team redesigned the outdoor space to include an ADA compliant ramp, new exterior stairs leading to the front of the building, relocating the transformer, while still providing ample gathering space between these programmatic elements.
One of the most significant challenges we faced with this project was related to the structural system of the building. Originally constructed in the 1960s, the building’s structural system is atypical. The system consisted of steel joists metal wire mesh laid over the top chord of the joists, with five layers of brown craft paper placed over the wire mesh, and a 3 inch un-reinforced concrete slab poured overtop. This uncharacteristic floor slab construction meant that nothing could be hung from the deck above, requiring a unique overhead support framing system be applied to the underside of the existing joists allowing for connections of new infrastructure such as lighting, conduit, duct work, etc., to be installed.
Physical Context1372 Peachtree brings new life to an existing 1960’s low rise building that was surrounded by over-scaled high-rise structures. Located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, our design team saw this existing three-story building as an opportunity to reestablish a human scale in this area. Dwarfed by adjacent high-rise offices, 1372 brings back a much-needed sense of place as it relates to the pedestrian and urban environment.
Character of Materials
The overall design approach for both the building and plaza renovation was driven by two key design principles: maintain an aesthetic connection to the arts center district (including the High Museum located two blocks away), and to create a unique and memorable pedestrian-focused interruption to the existing context. The final materials selected for the project express this design approach clearly while also responding to the need for durability within an urban environment.
“Plaza As A Room”
The design intent of the reimagined plaza creates an “exterior room” that provides respite within the context of the existing urban fabric, this approach is in direct response to the existing highly active pedestrian sidewalk along Peachtree Street. The new plaza incorporates a large bleacher style seating area, which is intended to be enjoyed by the building occupants and public; offering a comfortable and habitable exterior room. At the center of this seating area is a new large select specimen oak tree that provides shade to the seating area and to create a more pleasant experience while occupying the plaza space.
Replacing the main building façade with a new curtainwall system was done to encourage and promote greater visual engagement between building occupants and its context (a complete reversal of the building’s previous condition). Additionally, due to the solar orientation of the building’s main entry façade (northeast), there was value added and benefit to introducing a large expanse of glass along this façade with limited impact to HVAC systems.