Garrett Rowland Photography

Fitzco / Momentum / Weber Shandwick

Atlanta’s Stockyards district harmonizes the city’s industrial heritage and creative-class leanings. Three separate buildings pieced together, the revamped interior of a former slaughterhouse is now a multifaceted workplace for three advertising agencies – Fitzco, Momentum, and Weber Shandwick. All three companies are part of a marketing solutions giant and their new home is the first time everyone shares the same space. As they merge under one roof, the need for a smart, efficient layout was paramount. The design team worked with the agencies to create a co-location solution that would increase innovation and opportunities for new synergy.

The stitching together of the original buildings’ fabric informed the design concept with themes of duality and liminality. The idea was to design the spaces “in-between”, a liminal experience that embraces the embedded character of the site, stitching the old and the new and converging three different agencies under one creative roof without losing the individuality of each.

The new environment is a shift from the order and restraint of class-A office space in commercial office buildings. The design works off an irregular column grid. While each agency has its own distinct neighborhood of workstations and offices in separate parts of the open floorplan, the shared spaces include the reception area, pitch rooms, conference rooms and 3rd floor hosting space. The entire volume is organized around a central common space on the lower floor which sits underneath the dramatic skylight. It includes an inter-connecting stair, gathering platform, collaboration booths, game area, and café that is both the heart of the complex and the connector that experientially blends the three agencies into one community.

Design Challenge

The challenge was to create a multifaceted workplace for three advertising agencies in one unique space - a former slaughterhouse located along the railroad lines. This was an opportunity to rethink the relationship between environment and activity. At the start of the project, the design team walked the original site, documenting its features and character, its relationship to the site and noting the play of natural light and darkness within the space. The first insertion added to the building (by the developer) was a large, pitched skylight that ran down the center of the space and flooded the interior with natural light. A large portion of the floor slab was removed directly beneath the skylight to allow that light to penetrate deeply into the volume on both levels. This created a new, dynamic central volume that changed the fabric of the interior space and put new focus on a collective gathering experience. The reimagined interiors pays homage to the historical building by exposing and celebrating the original finishes and being selective about where new enclosed spaces were located within the floor plate. The original experience of spaces that had more or less light was also respected to keep some of the original feeling of the space intact, while also supporting the workplace strategy to provide a variety of spaces and experiences within the office. The workplace required a diverse topography of surfaces that would provide choice in where and how to accomplish tasks. The emphasis on different surface heights and furniture types, desk height to bar height, lounge settings to booths, accommodate various postures and personalities. Specialty areas like a social media analytics room and shopper's lab were programmed to bring clients in and immerse them in a testing environment. Open workspace, crit space, and spaces to unplug are all in close proximity to each other to support creative wandering in one truly multi-modal experience.

Physical Context

The workplace's character goes beyond the way space is organized. This is a building with a story – past and future, old and new – seamlessly woven together, at times complimenting, at times contrasting. Original building features are purposefully restored and showcased, while new interventions are modern and bold. Old brick walls bring warmth and nostalgia, while new walls wrapped in tackable surfaces display the creative process, the new inhabitants’ brand, and their future stories. On the front of the building, a new porch – a nod to southern roots - was designed of steel beams to tie into the buildings industrial nature and provided an outdoor terrace connecting inside and outside, while providing connection to the city beyond. On the back side of the building, the design team took advantage of the large windows, and the points where the building’s additions stitched together, to create open gathering areas positioned to look outside. There is an ever-present feeling of the history of the building and the constant movement of trains outside the window is a reminder of the city’s past and present realities. The adaptive reuse of this 75-year-old building is a transformation of space, materials, workstyles, and relationships. Each company maintains its identity while balancing the needs of each other. Different workstyles and projects combined with these juxtaposed elements produce the kind of energy that is central to the work of creative agencies. The revived building continues to contribute to the city's culture and even provides a new brand of authenticity.