Celebrating Atlanta's Architecture
Samantha Susock

From New York to Melbourne, Athens to Stockholm, Open House Worldwide is a global initiative aimed at showcasing architecture, old and new, in a way that clearly demonstrates the contributions the built environment makes to society. Considered Architecture for the People, the concept originated in London in 1992 and has since expanded to 33 cities around the world and four in the United States. The Open House movement encourages residents and visitors to explore and experience a city’s unique personality.

This year, Atlanta joined the Open House family by hosting its first architecture festival to help honor the city’s most exemplary and alluring structures.  The inaugural event was held in the third weekend of October with more than 40 buildings opening their doors to the public. 

Heery's Headquarters, located in the heart of Midtown at the iconic Heery-designed 999 Peachtree Building, joined the two-day jubilee by offering tours of the firm’s Atlanta design studio. Local design students, architecture-enthusiasts as well as residents eager discover more about the city they hold so dear, visited our office to learn about the contributions of our architects, designers and engineers and the very space where their ideas come alive. I had the pleasure to welcome our guests in and show them around.

The building in which myself and the Atlanta team resides, 999 Peachtree - located on the corner of Peachtree and 10th - was built in 1987 during one of Atlanta’s most extensive urban development projects. Heery’s design intent was to bring an elegant, modernist spirit to a dynamic, urban landscape. At the time the 28-story, 650,000 square foot mid-rise structure was built, the United States Green Building Council’s LEED rating system was not yet in existence. To comply with today’s standards and optimize building performance, the building’s property management team asked Heery to develop a strategy and implementation program that would earn a LEED Silver certification. The team performed retro-commissioning of all HVAC, mechanical and water systems, the latter of which saved approximately 1,530 gallons per day or 398,000 gallons per year. The building successfully achieved its certification in 2010.

Certified LEED Gold, Heery-Atlanta turned to its experts for its own office renovation project focused on design sensibility and sustainability. The team spent time studying how their colleagues worked in order to design an animated office that reflects the collaborative nature of the firm’s projects. The space was reconfigured to accommodate a wealth of different meeting requirements while the lighting and integrated technology provide a contemporary look. Based on experience with clients from diverse industries, the design team adamantly believed that break rooms should make their own statement. The brightly colored rooms feature high-top counters where employees can comfortably prepare food and dine with peers and offer enough space for informal meetings where ideas are measured and industry discourse eventuates.

During the tour, lighting was presented as a key design element. An abundance of natural light expands the space with interior glass walls, allowing it to flow through the corridors and office areas. Dropped walls in collaboration spaces welcomes light to stream through exterior windows. Energy efficient lighting encompasses the office and uses 27% less energy. Another sustainable element incorporated throughout was the use of recycled materials, including reuse of millwork, lighting, carpet and hardware.

As guests scouted the office, they uncovered the very places where the evolution of the design process unfolds. Pin-up walls display current and past projects with hand sketches, computer renderings and 3D models visible for reference. Presentation rooms and materials libraries are easily accessible, encouraging on-site collaboration. Because our Interiors team recently competed in IIDA Georgia’s annual DRESSED event, guests caught a visit with the “Big Bad Wolf”, the team’s wearable garment submission, made entirely out of industry manufacturer products.

While a rewarding experience for residents and visitors, the weekend was an exciting opportunity to meet those who share an interest in great architecture and design. Since Heery was founded in 1952, the firm has made significant contributions to Atlanta's cityscape. From the 1996 Olympic Stadium (now turned Georgia State Stadium) to the modern and chic Intercontinental Exchange, it was a welcoming open to a new tradition as I enjoyed telling the story of Heery-Atlanta and and the many things and places that make this city one-of-a-kind.