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The Best Commercial Architects in Atlanta

November 7, 2017 23 Min Read

Atlanta is characterized by a traditional Southern landscape, rich in lush scenery, parks, and botanical gardens. Its local community is renowned for its interesting diversity of workers, thinkers, and artists. The city is also home to some globally-recognized landmarks, from the world’s busiest international airports, one of the world’s largest aquariums, to other signature structures and institutions, such as the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Most importantly, to help shape and reshape the city’s ever-evolving architectural landscapes, the city is supported by some of the region’s biggest architecture firms. These companies have designed many significant commercial properties in the city, many of which have provided places for entertainment, the arts, and social engagements for the city’s varying demographics. The list below features the top Atlanta architects whose work proved to have a notable impact on the city’s culture and economy, and whose designs have shaped some of Atlanta’s most unforgettable and well-known landmarks today.


Wakefield Beasley & Associates

5200 Avalon Boulevard, Alpharetta, GA 30009

Led by its chairman and CEO John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr., Wakefield Beasley & Associates has offices in a variety of cities nationwide. Although not headquartered in Atlanta, Wakefield Beasley & Associates qualifies for this listing for its iconic contribution to the city: the mixed-use portion of the home of the Atlanta Braves. The firm has designed office buildings, movie theaters, theme parks, golf course clubhouses, conference hotels, and resorts. It has also contributed to the creation of several civic, courthouse, and educational structures in the American South, including communities throughout the state of Georgia. Operating with teams, each led by experienced designers who excel in a particular project type, the firm strives to achieve optimal results through both specialization and collaboration, encouraging design teams to challenge one another and to seek shared solutions. The firm aims to create beautiful and sustainable buildings that are highly flexible, marketable, and cost-effective to own and operate.

Comcast Regional Headquarters

For its most notable achievement in Atlanta, Wakefield Beasley & Associates collaborated in the design of a large-scale, mixed-use complex to accompany the stadium that is home to the Atlanta Braves. The structure dubbed as “The Battery” houses 500 residential units, a hotel, a number of offices and corporate spaces, multiple restaurants, and retail spaces. National and local brands can be found in this massive facility. Locations for international brands like Coca-cola, Roxy, and other some of the highlights of this development. The design also includes a building dedicated to Comcast’s regional headquarters, a nine-story tower with an innovation lab, a restaurant, views of SunTrust Plaza, and several office spaces. The building alone houses 1,000 local employees.


Gensler

999 Peachtree Street, NE, Suite 1400 Atlanta, GA 30309

Composed of more than 6,000 professionals across its over 40 locations in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, and Asia, Gensler is one of the most established companies in the world. As a design firm, it has contributed to shaping the commercial, retail, and mixed-use architectural landscape of many metropolitan areas. Its Georgia office has worked with giant brands, such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull, to complete several locations in different parts of the region. The company has also designed modern corporate offices and headquarters for a wide range of high-value markets through its interior and full architecture planning and design services. Its Atlanta office is led by Principal Robert Fischel, a member of the AIA and a LEED-accredited Professional (LEED-AP). Tory Winn, IIDA, NCIDQ, and Kevin Songer, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, RDI, are the location’s co-managing directors. Songer, known for his thought leadership and innovations in the retail design industry, serves as the firm’s Retail Practice Area Leader for the Southeast Region. In 2019, he earned the Retail 40 Under 40 honors.

Zara USA

The firm partnered with retail giant Zara USA to complete the architecture and interior design of multiple offices across the US. The retail giant has locations in Georgia and other stores around the country, including a flagship store in New York City’s Broadway area. In order to adhere to US building codes and adapt to the local market, the company worked with Zara’s Spain-based team to make the necessary modifications to its original design standards. The collaboration was also meant to, despite the adjustments, stay true to the brand’s renowned “sleek and modern aesthetics”. In the end, the partnership produced 14 stores, with location sizes that range from 20,000 to 35,000 square feet, and buildings that feature one to two-story structures.


HKS

191 Peachtree St NE, #5000, Atlanta, GA 30303

HKS is an international interdisciplinary company that serves ten different markets. Beyond architecture and interior design, it has expanded its global team of experts to cater to a more diverse, complex, and high-value clientele. As a veteran firm with the commercial industry as one of its major sectors, it has worked with major brands and Fortune 500 companies through its services in architecture, planning, interior design, and branded environments. Over the years, it has earned awards from Architizer A+ magazine, Design+Construction, Dezeen, and ASID. In its Georgia office, the company has worked with established companies such as Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Cousins Properties, Piedmont Healthcare, and Emory Healthcare, to complete healthcare, aviation, commercial, and mixed-use properties. Julie Volosin, Office Director and Principal for the Atlanta location, is a LEED-AP and a member of the IIDA. Volosin is an interior designer that applies a hands-on approach to every project. She works closely with the client and her design team to deliver creative and functional design solutions that answer the specific needs of the project and the brand that it represents.

Quarry Yards

One of the firm’s most notable commercial design projects in Atlanta is the planned mixed-use Quarry Yards. The project will cover 70 acres of development located in West Midtown. The firm collaborated with global architecture firm Populous to complete the architecture of the region’s future gateway to Westside Park. The design is a nod to the locality’s industrial roots. It features a combination of natural materials that include brick, concrete, metal, iron, glass, as well as repurposed shipping containers to accommodate future tenants. The development’s initial phase is a $400 million-worth project. Once completed, the building will be home to 75,000 square feet of commercial retail and restaurant spaces, 300 hotel rooms, 850 residential units, and over 575,000 corporate office spaces.


Davis Architects, Inc.

1000 Marietta Street NW, Suite 304, Atlanta, GA 30318

Davis Architects is highly commended for delivering some of Atlanta’s landmark mixed-use and commercial architectures. The firm, led by Neil Davis, was originally established by E.B. Van Keuren. In 1946, the company evolved to design high-end educational, institutional, and commercial structures. The firm currently operates across Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, and Georgia. In the past, the firm received numerous awards for its work in Alabama and was recognized in many publications for its designs. Its structures have even been featured in traveling art exhibits. In order to best serve the Atlanta community, the firm developed Studio Architects in 2016, a dedicated company created to respond to the city’s demand for modern design and architecture services. Through this, the company has completed large-scale retail and mixed-use buildings, as well as several multi-family residential complexes.

Georgia Theatre

One of the firm’s most unforgettable architecture and restoration projects in Atlanta is the 131 Ponce. The project is an urban infill development designed to accommodate 280 apartment units and a two-story parking structure. The building features scenic views of the city and puts residents and visitors within walking distance to amenities, restaurants, and the historic Fox Theater. For another project in Athens, Georgia, the firm partnered with Wilmot Greene to transform the interior of the 1889 Georgia Theater into a fresh and new Art-Deco style. The transformation blends with the building’s historic exterior. The resulting architecture became famous for its curved and intersecting stairways and balconies. The design fosters excellent views and acoustics that are said to recreate the “magic” that was lost during a devastating 2009 fire incident. A new rooftop restaurant and bar area provide views of downtown Athens. To acknowledge the firm’s contribution to the region’s valuable architecture, it was included in Expertise’s Top 18 Architects Operating in Atlanta ranking.


Portman Architects

303 Peachtree Center Avenue NE, Suite 575, Atlanta, GA 30303

Portman Architects has been selected for the firm’s monumental accomplishments and the undying legacy of its founder, John C. Portman Jr., FAIA. Portman was a world-renowned architect known for trying out big and new ideas. The Peachtree Center, a 14-block complex in Atlanta, Portman’s hometown, showcases a number of his best-known designs. The Peachtree Center started in 1960 and now includes AmericasMart, the world’s largest single wholesale marketplace. Downtown, his work for the Hyatt Regency building received international recognition from The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune. Famous for his mixed-use complexes, his work has been featured in museum exhibits in Atlanta, and the Angel Orensanz Foundation chose him to be Member of the Senate of the Accademia Internazionale d’Arte Moderna in 1966. He served on a number of boards specific to the arts and earned awards, including American Institute of Architects (AIA) medals. His projects appear in six books, and a documentary has been made about his architecture.  Today, the company is led by Robert Halverson, AIA, NCARB, as its President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board. Halverson has been with the industry for over 25 years, practicing in the United States and Asia. Under his leadership, the firm continues to serve people by creating designs rooted in basic, human needs. 

Westin Peachtree Plaza

In the past, the AIA awarded the Peachtree Center with the Building of the Decade award during the Atlanta 100 Years of Atlanta Architecture awards ceremony. Covering 18.9M square feet, the building is the city’s biggest mixed-use structure, containing offices, hotels, AmericasMart, health clubs, meeting and event spaces, retail, and entertainment venues that fill 14 city blocks. The structure offers interior and exterior parks and plazas, many of which display large sculptures. Another timeless project contributed to the city is the Westin Peachtree Plaza, an AIA Medal awardee under the Innovations in Hotel Design category. With 1,100 rooms, an exhibition center, and a ballroom and meeting space, this 73-story building takes up 56,548 square feet. At the building’s center sits a 90-foot tall lobby skylight that features different works of art. At the top of the building sits a multilevel, revolving restaurant made out of glass that showcases sweeping views of the city.


Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates

319 Peck Street Suite I-9, New Haven, CT 06513

Roche Dinkeloo & Associates, recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ Firm Award, is highlighted for its famous achievement in Atlanta: the design of the Bank of America Plaza. The firm is pioneered by Kevin Roche, an architect with decades of experience. His son, Eamon Roche, assumed the role of Managing Director in 2018. The team works on large-scale projects across the world to provide services like master planning, programming, architectural design, interior design, specification, and construction administration services. Its national achievements include the Central Park Zoo and the design for the expansion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. For its achievements, Kevin Roche received the Pritzker Prize, the AIA Gold medal, and various awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; while the firm has received two AIA 25-year Awards and the AIA Architectural Firm Award, “Vast Contributions to the Architectural Worth of the World”.

Bank of America Plaza

TheThe firm excels in international, large-scale commercial projects scattered across the world. From the Dublin convention center and the Helsinki Guggenheim to major renovations for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the firm has been responsible for designing some of the most iconic landmarks in and outside of the US. One notable project in Atlanta is the Bank of America Plaza, a 55-floor skyscraper, which is currently the 17th tallest building in the country. Known for its Art Deco architecture, it features a 90-foot obelisk-like spire at its top, with most of its part covered in 23-karat gold leaf. Beneath the obelisk sits a glowing, steel pyramid reminiscent of a style used in the Messeturm of Frankfurt am Main. Another notable work is found an hour-and-a-half south of Columbus in Georgia. Total Systems Incorporated is a commercial project that covers a massive area of one million square feet. The campus sits along the Chattanooga River and provides a riverwalk for both tenants and the general public. The structure features broad, sunlit stairs and an elliptical atrium.


BLDGS

786 Murphy Avenue SW, Atlanta, GA 30310

BLDGS is chosen for its distinguished principals. David Yocum, AIA, completed his undergraduate years in Dartmouth and went on to pursue and complete his Master of Architecture degree at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. He currently teaches as a Professor of the Practice in Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). As the firm’s principal and co-founder, he oversees design projects at BLDGS alongside Principal Brian Bell, AIA, who studied at the University of Washington and Harvard University. Bell has taught in Seattle, Rome, Boston, and Atlanta and is also a professor at Georgia Tech, College of Architecture. Under their leadership, the company earned several awards, including the 2017 Architectural League of New York Emerging Voices Award and the prestigious 2016 Atlanta AIA Silver Medal Firm Award, recognizing the company’s design excellence and community leadership. The firm focuses on large-scale civic projects, like museums, educational buildings, art galleries, and corporate offices. Its work has been featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Some of the firm’s clients include Bloomberg LP, Steelcase Inc., and Georgia Institute of Technology.

High Museum of Art, Woodruff Arts Center’s Octane Coffee Cafe

One of the firm’s featured commercial projects was for the design of the High Museum of Art, Woodruff Arts Center’s Octane Coffee Cafe. Dubbed a “pocket cafe”, the company transformed a former box-office space to become an iconic place of comfort and relaxation inside the center. The building is characterized by an exceptionally narrow interior but the limited space was reconciled with its mirrored ceilings to give a sense of an expansive space. The same purpose was created when it added mirrored alcoves that visually dissolve against its black walls. Its need for equally created light fixtures is answered by suspended neon arcs, creating an O-shaped overhead. The structure, given its location and pressure of blending with the value and significance of the center as a place for magnificent artworks, was well-designed and well-thought of. This project exhibited the firm’s innovative, playful, and creativity.


Lord Aeck Sargent

1175 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 2400, Atlanta, GA 30361

Singled out for the strength of its presence and the scope of its achievements, Lord Aeck Sargent has a wealthy portfolio of over 3,000 projects completed since 1942. Its team is composed of 160 experts in architecture, interior design, urban design, landscape architecture, land planning, cost estimation, and zoning. The firm works out of six offices nationwide. Over 50 of its team members are certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and more than 70 of its projects have been LEED-certified. As a leading figure in green design advocacy, the firm is one of the pioneers in The 2030 Challenge, a sustainability movement urging a 50-percent reduction of energy usage in new commercial buildings and in major renovations within the private sector. For its projects in museums, art centers, multi-family housing and mixed-use buildings, government buildings, laboratories, and corporate headquarters, the firm has earned 200 awards, including three R&D Magazine Laboratory of the Year and multiple AIA Honor Awards for Excellence in Architecture. The firm is also a member of 1+—that is, one percent of the team’s working hours are dedicated to pro bono and nonprofit services. Joe Greco, president of the firm since 2010, studied architecture at Georgia Technical Institute and Harvard. Greco earned a scholarship to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Antonin Aeck, the firm’s founding principal, is licensed to practice in four countries and in 15 states in the US. He is a former AIA Atlanta Chapter president and has received numerous awards throughout his career.

Seventh Midtown

The Swan House, one of Atlanta’s historic landmarks, was originally a 1920s home designed by architect Philip Trammell Shutze and belonged to Mr. Edward Inman, the wealthiest man in Georgia during that time. The property is included in the National Register of Historic Places and operates today as a house museum. In collaboration with The Atlanta History Center, the firm designed an elaborate renovation of this historic home. From 1998 through 2004, major structural alterations were made, such as restoring the cascading water fountain and garden walls, redoing the interior to better match and honor its original 1920s aesthetic, and recovering the historic butler’s pantry. All mechanical, electrical, fire protection, and security systems were updated. To make sure that the elements are historically-accurate, every detail, from the plasterwork, the marble, wood, to each decorative painting, was diligently researched. The exterior of the home has been featured in films, including The Hunger Games. Another notable work is the Seventh Midtown mixed-use project, which the company designed with The Loudermilk Cos. The design produced a stunning building that features luxury residential condos and above ground-level commercial retail. With an area that totals to 48,000 square feet, the building includes private roof terraces, two penthouse suites, and 21 full residential units. The property has been recognized by AIA.


HOK

191 Peachtree Street NE #2250, Atlanta, GA 30303

HOK is selected for the magnitude of its accomplishments in the entertainment and transportation sectors in Atlanta. The firm is a global team of 1,600 architects and designers spread throughout 24 offices across three different continents. The firm has been in operation since 1955. As an organization, it is inspired by its goal of enriching people’s lives through excellence in innovative design. The firm’s mission is to design projects through “the creative blending of human need, environmental stewardship, value creation, science, and art.” The firm has received countless awards over the years for projects in London, Singapore, Hawaii, Canada, California, Hong Kong, and more. President and CEO Bill Hellmuth, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, says that HOK’s significant geographic reach is meant to help people have easy and comprehensive access to the firm’s high-caliber services. Although hugely successful in large-scale architectural projects, a large part of HOK’s mission is focused on research. Through working closely with a diverse range of clients and partners, HOK seeks to discover new solutions to the challenges of the built environment.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Covering two million square feet of land area, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is one of the biggest and most significant landmarks in Atlanta. In collaboration with other firms like tvsdesign, Goode Van Slyke Architecture, Stanley Beaman & Sears, and BuroHappold, HOK completed the world-renowned sports arena’s iconic architecture. Inspired by the Roman Pantheon, the structure’s roof consists of triangular and semi-transparent “petals” that strategically let in sunlight by moving along tracks. The petals open and close, mimicking the movement of a camera leaf shutter. The exterior sections operate as a transparent 16-story window that shows the views of the city. A 1,075-foot video board wraps around the roof’s perimeter, and the stadium features 2,000 other television screens. The structure is made up of over 4,000 miles of fiber-optic cable and includes a 600,000-square-foot cistern that collects and reuses rainwater, as well as preventing neighborhood flooding. Architectural Digest wrote that the project is “one of the most beautifully designed stadiums on the planet.” For another project, HOK also collaborated with Stanley, Love-Stanley, P.C., and Chasm Architecture, L.L.C., two Atlanta firms, to modernize a domestic passenger terminal of one of the world’s most utilized airports, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The project is a $6 billion expansion that covered 60,000 square feet of building structure, which was estimated to take 20 years to complete. The plans included a 15,000-square-foot atrium that features a translucent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene-paneled dome above a nature-filled setting reminiscent of Atlanta’s landscape. The project makes use of natural and LED energy-efficient lighting. The redesign includes improved traffic and navigation, and provided easier ways for guests to flow between sections and corridors.


Cooper Carry

191 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Recognized for its success and creativity, Cooper Carry is a firm that offers people-oriented and connective architecture—design solutions that connect people and community and, at the same time improve their way of life. The firm is headed by Principals Brent M. Amos, Pope Bullock, Brian Campa, and Angelo A. Carusi, and President Kevin R. Cantley, among others. Affiliated with countless organizations from AIA to APA and ASLA, the firm puts environmental sustainability at the forefront of its designs. The company goes out of its way to ensure that all aspects of the building process, from the materials used to the methods used to construct new structures, are compliant with the industry’s most stringent guidelines in green design. Over the years, the firm has received almost 150 awards for design from prestigious organizations, including the AIA and ASLA. Many of its awards were given for its achievements and services completed for Georgia’s communities.

Atlanta Metropolitan Academic Science Building

Cooper Carry earned two awards in 2013 from Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Georgia Engineering Alliance for its Academic Science Building at Atlanta Metropolitan College. This project was a collaboration with Paul Cheeks Architects. Covering 55,000 square feet, the building is a central structure to the main campus’s entrance. It houses several classrooms and laboratories needed for the school’s Biology, Anatomy, Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Physical Sciences, and Engineering research initiatives. The rooms come with high-end audio-visual equipment with up-to-date features. The firm also worked on a project to transform an old parking lot in midtown Atlanta into a brand new structure. Situated between a Four Seasons and a Marriott Suites on 14th Street, between West Peachtree Street and Crescent Avenue, the project was to design a Marriott property shared by two brands. The 266,000-square-foot building accommodates 300 rooms and an attached parking structure. Included in the architecture are a rooftop pool and lounge area.


Perkins + Will

1315 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Perkins + Will is composed of over 2,000 professionals throughout 20 offices worldwide. The company records countless achievements in the areas of architecture, interior design, branded environments, urban design, and landscape architecture. As part of its commitment to sustainability, the firm conducts research to produce new design technologies and design solutions for complex built environments. Annually, the firm receives hundreds of design awards and has been recognized as one of the top firms worldwide. Additionally, the firm has been constantly ranked as the number one firm in Atlanta in terms of gross architectural revenue. The firm has been around for almost four decades and has been guided by a number of distinguished principals. David Dymecki, managing director for its Atlanta office, has three decades of experience in the programming, planning, and design of large-scale athletic and recreation projects. He is a lecturer and writer on the subject of architecture and has contributed to projects like the Coppin State University, the East Campus Athletic Village at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the renovations and additions to the historic Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University, and the recreation center for the University of Massachusetts.

98 Fourteenth Street

Among the firm’s most notable designs in Atlanta is still a project in progress: 98 Fourteenth Street, the city’s soon-to-be second tallest building after the Bank of America Plaza. The structure will rise as high as 920 feet. It is a residential and commercial tower central to the Midtown Art Walk, an area that features widespread pedestrian landscape punctuated with interactive art pieces. The building will contain 74 stories with 382 luxury residential living spaces, 180 corporate suites, a heated infinity pool, conference and media rooms, a fitness center and yoga studio, a children’s play area, storage for bicycles, and a gourmet bar and kitchen. The ground level will house retail spaces, and a full-story sky lounge will offer views of the city. The building is set to be completed in 2020. Although the building is still in progress, it will be a remarkable addition to the Atlanta skyline and is expected to bring a wide-ranging influence on the community.


tvdesign

1230 Peachtree Street NE, Suite 2700, Atlanta, GA 30309

Tvdesign is one of the most influential firms in Atlanta. This woman-led firm was originally founded by Bill Thompson, Tom Ventulett, and Ray Stainback, as a means of creating inspired designs through close collaboration. With 50 years of experience, offices in Dubai and Shanghai, and several commercial and institutional projects built around the world, tvdesign is now one of the largest firms on this list. Its portfolio is the most extensive in terms of scale, and type of projects. The firm is guided by its vision of a world where public spaces give neighborhoods energy and where people feel connected to dynamic communities, ultimately inspiring cultural growth and economic development. Operated by President and CEO Janet Simpson and Managing Principal Becky Ward, the firm received two national awards from the Employee Stock Ownership Association at the 40th Annual Conference in Washington, DC, and three GA Design Excellence Awards from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). The firm collaborated with HoK on a design for the remarkable Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and other designs that include the Georgia Dome, the CNN Center, the Omni Hotel, and the Georgia International Plaza.

Georgia Aquarium

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta serves as a sanctuary to several thousand species and is one of the firm’s most interactive projects. Until the Marine Life Park in Singapore opened in 2012, it was the largest aquarium in the world. The building’s large, blue metal exterior is indicative of cutting-edge initiatives in preservation, conservation, and education, allowing observers to discover the secrets of the ocean. Another significant tvdesign project is the Georgia World Congress Center Complex that accommodates 350,000 square feet of exhibit space. The complex housed a number of events during the 1996 Summer Olympics and acted as the setup location for the International Broadcast Centre. The tvdesign team designed a linear concourse at the interior, filled with light, from which the meeting and exhibit areas flow as branches from a tree. The firm also designed Atlantic Station, a large area in midtown Atlanta containing an entire retail district, office space, condominiums, townhomes, and apartments.

Author

  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at Atlanta Architects with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at Atlanta Architects, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration