It is no wonder the law firm of Alston & Bird LLP boasts the proud distinction of being named to Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work for 15 consecutive years. The law firm, which sports 800 lawyers in nine locations in the United States and Europe, is totally committed to providing its employees with the latest and greatest in environment and technology. A recent renovation at the Atlanta, GA office set the bar for a functional and sustainable law office design for the next decade, targeting a LEED Gold Certification.
To accomplish this mission, the architectural firm of Carson Guest, Atlanta, was commissioned, while ONSITE Woodwork Corporation, Loves Park, Illinois, did the fabrication and installation of the architectural woodwork for the approximate 350,000 square foot project.
The project called for quartered, figured Anigre veneer finished in a 30-sheen catalyzed conversion varnish which was used on the wall paneling, reception desks, doors and jambs, finished running trim, cabinetry and judge’s bench. The woodworking firm also fabricated high pressure decorative laminate.
Throughout the space visitors will see a balance of crisp, clean white finishes, including a polished stone floor, walls and countertops, leather upholstery and window treatments blended with the richness of the wood.
“The contemporary design along with special accents of dark Anigre add warmth and historical reflection of early law firm design,” explains designer Rita Guest.
Silver-colored metal accents including door hardware, stair railings, signage, elevator call plates, furniture frames, light fixtures and floor transition strips catch the light and add sparkle to reinforce the contemporary style.
Positioned at the top of the building, the conference floors showcase amazing views of the city skyline. Natural daylight is brought into the interior space with plenty of windows and sidelights. To enhance natural lighting without jeopardizing privacy, a frosted window film that gradually faded to clear was specified for interior windows.
The use of concealed wood doors in primary circulation corridors helped to hide the back-of-house food service and computer functions. Led lighting was used extensively throughout with the added advantage of providing energy efficiency.
“Aesthetic appearance with clean lines and custom finishes were the primary objectives,” notes Steve Wilson of Alston & Bird.
“Woodwork offers design flexibility and enabled our design team to create unique and attractive elements which enhance the overall design concept.”
ONSITE worked tirelessly from the onset of the project with the architects and designers to understand the aesthetics and objectives so we could suggest valuable engineering options that would achieve their vision, reports Caleb Peterson.
“We also took time to review the scope of the project in depth and discuss drawing details that were not yet fully rendered with architects to limit re-drawings, re-submittals and to expedite the schedule. Having a strong, functional relationship with the architects, designers and contractor helped us streamline the design, rendering and fabrication process, allowing us to keep costs down and meet the project deadline.”
Wilson says the mock courtroom in the office space is the most noteworthy, and also the most challenging from a coordination standpoint.
“The woodwork had to be installed in sequence around the audio-video components in the room. Maintenance access points and field changes to support sight lines were made to enhance the original design”
The most difficult, adds Peterson, were the door jambs, which were flush with the drywall on all sides, and provided a seamless look for the space.
“However,” he says, “the jambs also needed to accommodate specialty hardware within the smaller than usual width. Engineering the jambs to achieve the clean, modern design aesthetic, while simultaneously housing complicated door hardware, proved to be one of the more intricate tasks we undertook.”
Other intricate design elements included the stair and rotunda paneling, Peterson continues.
“To realize the deceptively clean lines and illusion of unbroken space on the monumental stair, we painstakingly and precisely matched our reveals on the lacquered stair spandrel panels and stringers to the quirks in the glass panels.”
The rotunda paneling presented a special challenge, he points out, due to integrating other design elements, such as the glass door, the stone flooring, and the radius sheetrock ceiling.
Guest notes that the most intricate, noteworthy elements included the wood toilet stall walls that provided a special flair to the conference floors; the judge’s bench and jury rail which incorporated concealed monitor lifts; the video display walls near the mock courtroom, in the multipurpose room on the 49th floor, and the wood surrounds in the conference rooms around the LDC screens; the concealed doors; and the large, pivot conference room doors.
“The most challenging aspect of the project,” she continues, “was the conference floors which were started last with the shortest time frame, but required the most intricate work.”
“ONSITE Woodwork Corporation has enjoyed a 27-year working relationship with Carson Guest, spanning two family generations,” says Peterson.
“The initial relationship between our firm and Carson Guest was founded on the Atlanta Alston & Bird offices, which began construction in 1987. We are grateful to have worked continuously with Carson Guest on multiple Alston & Bird offices in many cities over the years. It is an especially rare thing, in this current economy, to have such a strong, sustained relationship across decades.”
“There was definitely a team approach to resolving some issues on the project,” adds Guest.
“Our firm worked alongside the woodworking firm, Alston & Bird, a hardware consultant, and sometimes a security vendor to come to the correct solution on some of the concealed doors. There were some issues with the overhead door closers on the large conference room doors, but we coordinated with ONSITE to make sure the closer could be braced properly inside the top of the door. All parties cooperated with each other in reaching a successful solution.”
In the end, the new reception area seamlessly blends into wide corridors with beautiful finishes and provides a gallery-like setting for the firm’s art; the elegant stair conveniently leads from the reception to the adjacent conference floors; custom ceilings sport metal and sustainable veneers; the conference room has a new dining table with a porcelain and aluminum flip top; and LEED gold certification was met.