Photo Credit: Darris Lee Harris

United Way of Greater Atlanta

1230 Peachtree St., Suite 2700
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
(404) 888-6600
Marc Hirsch
Business Phone: (404) 946-6738

Project Location: Atlanta, GA
Completion Date: 01/12/2018
Owner: United Way of Greater Atlanta

Architects Involved:
Steve Clem, Principal in Charge Elizabeth Levine, Lindsey Kious, Lead Project Designer Kate Bachelder, Project Designer Raleigh Arrowood, Project Designer

Project Description

United Way of Greater Atlanta’s mission is to foster a community where every child can thrive and has the opportunity to reach their potential: they needed a workplace that facilitates that mission. As the only office tenant occupying three floors of a building they own in downtown Atlanta, United Way’s new space provided both flexibility and opportunity. To prioritize features under tight budget restraints, the designers conducted a vision session, department interviews and surveys. The resulting information found that the top desires were connecting employees, improving workflow, and enhancing employee well-being. From this, the designers planned an open, interconnected stair between the three floors, stacked common areas promoting collaboration on each floor near the stairs, and skylights at the top floor that lend more natural light.
Design in the non-profit world must be purposeful and useful in a multitude of ways. On the top floor, there is a café space with flexible open seating that can be used for solitary work, team collaboration, or rearranged for hosting events. Reception is on the middle floor, which features a living-room style waiting area, boardroom, and a multifunctional wood-slatted wall that hosts their logo on one side and a graphic storytelling of the nonprofit’s history in Atlanta on the other. The slatted wall provides a cost-effective design that is sculptural, cool, and also an asset to the brand. The bottom floor has a multipurpose room and more open seating. With natural light and plenty of opportunities to interact with coworkers, the workplace design nurtures employees so they can help communities they support reach their potential.

Design Challenge

Previously, United Way of Greater Atlanta was located in an adjacent building and split between multiple floors. The team felt their physical separation led to more cultural separation in the workplace, and desired a space that could bring them together and encourage collaboration. In addition, they desired a workplace that could help increase productivity and efficiency in their everyday work. Initially the client worried they wouldn’t be able to fit into their new space because it was smaller. However, the design team maximized the efficiency in their new space by creating flexible environments that adapt to a multitude of work styles and meeting sizes, allowing employees to choose how they work best. The office now features a variety of work environments, including focus booths and quiet rooms for individual work, huddle rooms for collaborative informal spaces, formal conference rooms, touchdown spaces for impromptu conversation and a work café for social engagements. In addition, the offices are in-board, minimizing hierarchy and making windows accessible to all. Lastly, each desk is equipped with sit-stand capabilities allowing employees to choose their own work style. These modern upgrades encourage productivity and collaboration across the floor and between departments.

Physical Context

Connection to the surrounding urban community was a huge factor in the design of the project. The design team utilized graphics and an open staircase to encourage collaboration and connection between employees. Skylights bring additional daylight into the office and have quickly become a favorite feature of employees. “United Way plays the role as convener and catalyst for the community,” says United Way CEO, Milton Little. “The configuration of the new space lends itself more powerfully and poetically to that purpose.”