Photo Credit: Nick McGinn

The George- Mixed-use/ Residential

Praxis3 architecture + multidisciplinary design
100 Peachtree Street, NW, Suite 1450
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 663-5151
David Hamilton, AIA
Business Phone: (404) 663-5151

Project Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Completion Date: 10/13/2017
Owner: Memorial + Hill, LLC (Urban Realty Partners)

Additional Team:
Interiors/ Signage: Praxis3 architecture + multidisciplinary design MEP Engineers: Westside Engineering, Inc. Civil Engineers: J Lancaster and Associates, Inc. Construction: YLH Construction

Project Description

The George is a 121,000 sf mixed-use development with 132 apartment units and 9,700 sf of restaurant and retail space. The building includes a lobby and office center with a public coffee shop, a gymnasium and a pool and bar for residents. Its location at two major streets just south of Downtown Atlanta make it a visible landmark. It is a part of the North Grant Park neighborhood and was subject to the Special Public Interest zoning for that area. It is named after the long-time owner of the property, George Azar. This George was an athletic star at Georgia Tech and a prominent Atlantan in his own right.

The building is located across Memorial Drive from what will become a significant Atlanta Park. When completed Capitol-Oakland park will become a linear green connection between the State Capitol Building and the historic Oakland Cemetery. The corridor is a rapidly developing area of the city. The Memorial Drive Corridor Plan, which the architect helped to develop, calls for an area of medium density mixed-use development along both Memorial Drive and Hill Streets. Active street level storefronts or residential units are a key part of the scheme. Parking is hidden off of the street at the interior of the site. The neighborhood-facing sides of the block step down to single family scale. The building is located along a major transit corridor with a MARTA station less than 10 minutes away. A future planned streetcar line will also serve the area.

The building presents a defined, sculpted corner to the Downtown facing intersection of Memorial and Hill. The building’s primary retail tenant has an entry and a major presence there. The street level is defined by tall storefronts articulated through a series of setbacks at the street. Wide 20’-0” sidewalks provide a pedestrian friendly environment. A local artisan was employed to develop various pieces of street furniture including bike racks. Two pedestrian passages lead from retail and residential parking to the street.

The apartments above are arranged to take advantage of the Atlanta skyline views to the north and west. The units are designed to meet the needs of the urban dweller. Renters have come from a variety of backgrounds, lifestyles and circumstances reflecting the Atlanta area’s considerable diversity. Average unit size is a compact 660 sf, including Studio, One Bedroom and Two Bedroom apartments. Amenities provided include a street level gymnasium, and fifth level pool and lounge spaces. The pool area overlooks the Grant park neighborhood, taking advantage of its southern exposure.

The building is ordered using balcony and solid walls in alternating segments to create a coherent and attractive façade. Parking is screened from an interior space using fabric panels. A small courtyard supports dining for the planned restaurants. Two pedestrian passages offer connection to the street and also support dining.

The building contributes to Eastside Atlanta’s nascent urbanism in a dynamic and progressive way, transforming what was once an empty liquor store parking lot into a new, dynamic urban environment.

Design Challenge

The George presented many challenges in its design and construction. Chief among them: - An extremely tight site required the architect to use every available square foot in efficient and creative ways. The building is sited to be efficient without seeming crowded or too large for its buildable footprint. - The site faces two major street and as such needed to address a significant urban corner. The design solution includes a sculpted open corner feature whose geometry is determined by the site’s irregular property lines. - SPI zoning prescribed an exact envelope for the building mass—Fitting within these criteria required careful overall planning and control of overall building height. Reducing floor to floor height while still providing the desired 9’-0” ceiling heights on 6 levels, required some unique structural manipulation not typical for this type of development. - Driven by economics, this building type, 5 levels of wood frame structure built over a concrete podium has become common in Atlanta and all over the country. Making a responsive urban building with an overall standard for aesthetics and buildability is always a challenge for any architect. Careful consideration of ‘things that matter’ during the design and construction processes, while controlling costs, are critical to making a successful building in this context.

Physical Context

The buildings location on the periphery of Downtown Atlanta and at the gateway to the Grant Park neighborhood presented a unique set of contextual design problems. The building forms a pedestrian friendly urban edge along Memorial Drive and Hill Streets, offering the neighborhood retail and restaurant amenities and a safe pleasant place to walk. A strong corner element addresses the important Memorial and Hill intersection and serves as a unofficial gateway of sorts to this rapidly developing corridor. The project’s proximity to MARTA rail, less than 10 minutes away, is strategic and one reason for the building’s continuing retail and residential leasing success. The original Memorial Drive Corridor/Neighborhood plan calls for pedestrian friendly density close to transit while maintaining a moderate overall scale adjacent to the areas historic single family neighborhoods. This project meets and excels at these goals providing Atlanta with a well-designed, urbanistically significant, new building.