The Candler Hotel

Originally built in 1906 by Coca-Cola founder Asa Griggs Candler, The Candler Building was transformed into a stylish, modern-day hotel that reimagines and reinvents this iconic Downtown Atlanta landmark. The conversion of a century-old office building into a modern luxury hotel required the design team to overcome challenges inherent to the time period’s construction, including the building’s steel and terra cotta structure and the layout of the original floorplans. The team also had to meet the State Historic Preservation Office strict requirements for this National Register of Historic Places registered building, while introducing needed elements to allow the building to function as a hotel.

Design Challenge

Built in 1906, The Candler Building was developed and owned by Coca-Cola founder and philanthropist Asa Candler and was designed to convey its status as Atlanta’s largest and most modern office buildings at the turn of the 20th century. Upon its completion, The Candler Building displayed a myriad of visually stunning and ornate architectural embellishment. Converting a century-old office building into a brand-new luxury hotel required the team to overcome many challenges that often surface during adaptive-reuse projects. Built by the American Bridge Company of New York, the 1906 building utilizes a steel frame combined with a fireproof flat-arch floor system that upon completion, was one of most technologically advanced buildings and the largest steel structure in the Southeast. The peculiarities of this century-old construction presented several challenges and understanding the geometry of the building was critical for project’s success. At the start of the project, a detailed analysis of the building’s structural systems and architectural features was necessary because of missing or incomplete original drawings. To accomplish this task, the team made numerous inspections, took as-built measurements, and made a high-resolution laser scan of the over 100-year-old building. This provided a Building Information Model that captured an accurate digital 3D representation of the building. As the project progressed, the team encountered unexpected issues during construction, such as a long-ago collapsed section of floor that had been infilled with wood and columns that shifted position several inches from floor to floor. Another challenge was adding a new staircase to meet current life safety codes. This required the removal of a structural bay at each of the 17 floors, and delicately threading steel stair components into the existing structure.

Physical Context

Meeting the requirements of the building’s historical designation posed unique challenges. Special care was taken to insure critical components of the architectural components were preserved and incorporated into the final design. The marquee of the property is the grand stair and its ornate marble portrait reliefs which was a challenge to maintain as a focal point. Additionally, other elements of the property were incorporated into the final design including the mahogany elevator cab interiors, vertical mail slots, mosaic tile floors, elevator lobby floors, and chandeliers, window sills where applicable. The hotel also required a cover over its drop-off area at the entrance to prevent arriving guests from getting wet during rainy weather. Since the state historical preservation office’s exacting standards forbid changes that damage, compete with or detract from a historically-designated building’s character, the challenge was solved by designing a transparent glass canopy that keeps guests dry as they arrive while allowing them to see through it to appreciate the ornate details, carved figures and bronze chandelier spanning the building’s arched entryway. The canopy does not touch or harm the original marble skin of the building and is designed to be removable in the future. The upper lobby level, which is connected to the main lobby via the grand staircase, accommodates meeting rooms, a board room and a library/study. To provide an adequate space for a new 6,000 SF hotel ballroom, the team integrated the second level of the adjacent annex building by punching through the bearing walls and connecting the space to this upper lobby level.