AIA ATL Headquarters
Builder Address: Jamie@structorgroup.com 770.226.8096
Jordan & Skala Engineers, Inc.
The design of the new 2,000 square-foot offices neighboring each other shines a fresh and welcoming light on the space where architecture and design leaders convene and preserve the standards and principles of the trade.
Starting the Conversation on the Street Corner
Floor to ceiling glazing with windows on both sides of the corner space open the building up for connection at the street level. Sixteen-foot-tall storefront windows showcase big and bold articulation of the AIA ATL brand that captures immediate attention, with block sans serif lettering gracefully placed on a patina zinc wall, acting as a unifying bar enveloping the space. A stunning quarter-sawn white oak wall, sustainably constructed from local “forest free” oaks, creates more contrast with the grey zinc.
Also visible with the new open design is the working, active headquarter office where AIA staff choreograph the advocacy, standards, education, and public outreach programs. The open program space visible from the street is a fresh and inviting location for exhibitions and gallery presentations with a range of meaningful content for AIA Atlanta and AIA Georgia programs.
The goal for the design was to connect with the community, while leveraging the Woodruff building’s history in the downtown area. While opening up the space to view from the street level in an exciting conversation, we continued the expression of the building’s original character by exposing as many existing building components as possible.
The concrete waffle slab, structural columns, existing brick flooring, original bank vault, and tenant separation walls were all taken down to their bare material surface. We superimposed our own series of active and passive planes defined by materiality within the existing raw elements. This transformed the space into an inviting and welcoming destination for AIA.
By combining exposure of all structural components and opening up, the space has established a defined and stronger visibility for the office in the midst of this center of Downtown Atlanta vibrancy and activity, making it a city and state hub for design.
Continuing Dialogue Inside: Maximizing Space with a Great Wall
In the interior, the design for AIA Atlanta accomplishes the need for separate, yet joined spaces.
The design intersected four main program elements with a functional datum, or bar of rooms. Within this programmatic datum resides study and meditation rooms, surrounded by a large office space, galley/entry space, meeting room and a kitchen/catering/meeting room overflow space. All of these spaces connect to one another to allow for either inclusion or isolation – collaboration or concentration. This is done through a series of sliding, pivoting and folding doors.
The central elements of transformation in the design are a large vertical bi-fold door and single pivot door on the front main wall. With the doors closed, spaces can serve a specific function; but when splayed open, a large meeting room, classroom or lecture hall is generated, with gallery space for public events and receptions or a multi-use room for conferences and group collaboration.
These two programmatic elements, datum wall and separation wall also take into account the request for sustainable materials and multifunctional elements. The front separation wall and movable doors are all clad in forest-free white oak (otherwise destined for a chipper), while the programmatic datum bar is clad in a patinated flat-lock zinc panel.
Behind the large wood wall adjacent to the main space is the headquarters for AIA Georgia, with an office created from a former bank vault. The highlight of the space is the preservation of the original 18″-thick concrete bank vault used as a pedestal for a mezzanine-level executive office. The two story element is a key form in the office, creating a sense of verticality in a single story space with 22′ ceilings.