Tall Wood Comes to Atlanta this Summer

Numbered are the days of stodgy office buildings and sterile cubicles, now giving way to large open floor plans characterized by natural materials, exposed timber, and ample areas for shared workspace and collaboration. Sometimes referred to as superwides for their spacious floor plates, there is a rising demand for these tenant-winning offices as businesses discover employees are more productive when they intermingle, unobstructed, on the same floor.

Come this summer, T3 (which stands for Timber, Transit, Technology) West Midtown, an open floor-plan 7-story tall timber office complex will complete its rise above Atlanta’s 24/7 dine-shop-live-work Atlantic Station neighborhood, giving businesses and employees a cutting-edge workplace designed for this new more collaborative approach to office life.

With its nimble construction methods and aesthetic appeal, mass timber is proving to be perfectly suited for this growing movement in commercial office design, something the real estate developer Hines is capitalizing on, with the T3 West Midtown under construction, the second in a series of tall timber buildings they’re putting up across the country.

Their first, T3 Minneapolis, could be likened to a gamechanger for the commercial building industry and a milestone for mass timber.  The seven-story building , designed by Michael Green Architecture and DLR Group  and tenanted by online retail giant Amazon, was the largest mass timber structure in the U.S. when it opened in late November 2016. A third tall wood building is on the boards—the Chicago-based T3 Goose Island development.

Besides sharing a common developer, these tall wood commercial office buildings also share a common architect-of-record: international firm DLR Group.  The T3 West Midtown project is a collaborative effort between Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA), as design architect.

“DLR Group is at the forefront of mass timber design and construction,” said DLR Group design leader and principal Steve Cavanaugh. “And each of these projects is an opportunity to show off the uniqueness of the T3 concept.”

And that concept is growing in its appeal, driven by major shifts in demographics and employment trends. “There was this demand for a new type of office that is more authentic, more sustainable. It was aligning with the values of today’s tech companies. And when that market demand started to push in it was married with the development of wood technology,” adds Cavanaugh.

T3 West Midtown’s 205,000-square-foot mass timber design will feature heavy timber columns and beams, exposed wood decking and floor-to-ceiling windows.  In addition to office space, it will also include 15,000 square feet of amenities including ground-floor retail space, a fitness center, and rooftop lounge. It’s described as an amenity-rich spacious loft office concept that provides the character, and warmth of late 1800s heavy timber buildings with the advantages of modern, class-A construction.

And Cavanaugh believes this trend is only going to continue, as he recently reflected earlier this year in an ArchitectChats Podcast, as part of the Timber on the Rise Series.

“I’m excited about architectural design, turning away from imagery and flash and coming back toward authenticity. There is a new type of design that is going to emerge that is much more satisfying and more authentic.”

Put another way, what’s old is new again.

And so, it seems fitting and fortuitous that Atlanta, once dubbed “City in a Forest” for its unique tree canopy, is reviving this centuries-old building, natural and authentic material, in the erection of T3 West Midtown.

1 MASS APPEAL | Mass timber columns and wood decking accommodates spacious open floor plans

2 OLD IS NEW AGAIN | T3 offers the warmth of century old timber buildings with the advantages of modern construction

3 NO “I” IN TEAM | A growing trend is more open work environments that cater to informal col