Square Feet Studio
The firm Vivian Bencich founded with her husband John in 2001, Square Feet Studio, won first place in Contract magazine’s 2016 Inspiration Awards for work on Staplehouse. It was the first national honor for the growing firm of 11, whose portfolio ranges from the industrial sophistication of departed Abattoir to cozy Kimball House and a colorful, rambunctious Mellow Mushroom in Decatur.
From Vickery Village in Cumming to pastoral Serenbe, Lew Oliver has been metro Atlanta’s New Urbanist trailblazer for more than a quarter century. But the versatile housing designer—who now master-plans full communities—calls a massive undertaking in Fayetteville, Pinewood Forrest, his most inspiring project yet.
The Integral Group
Egbert Perry’s Integral Group bought bought the shuttered GM Plant in Doraville to create a new development called Assembly. Perry, a veteran of mixed-income and senior housing complexes spanning the metro area, has ventured into adaptive reuse in a big way. The under-construction hub of housing, corporate headquarters, retail, parks, and movie and television studios could encompass a massive 10 million square feet across 140 acres when completed over the next several years.
Perkins + Will
A passion project for the Grammy-winning musician, Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground, a 450-acre campground for kids and military vets, was master-planned by Perkins + Will, a global firm based in Atlanta. As the first of 23 planned buildings, the Peterson Dining Hall already serves as the camp’s heart.
Arthur Blank’s intentions for the dazzlingly complex, $1.6-billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium were to create a similar cultural hive for downtown Atlanta, the heartbeat of an entertainment and parks district that would bolster its neighboring communities. An instant landmark, the stadium’s wing-like exterior sections (an allusion to falcons in flight), 16-story “window to the city,” immense video halo board, and ocular roof of eight translucent petals have certainly made a splash.
New City Properties
Costing $190 million, the 725 Ponce project is the largest investment in new construction on the BeltLine to date. Jim Irwin, 38, a Buckhead native, says quality design and experience are the top priorities guiding his company, New City, and its ambitious development rising across the BeltLine from Ponce City Market—the gargantuan project Irwin led as senior vice president of Jamestown Properties.
Gene Kansas has an affinity for adaptive-reuse projects, especially those on imperiled Auburn Avenue, the heart of a district famously dubbed Sweet Auburn when it was thriving during the first half of the 20th century. Kansas knows how fragile community and history can be, having seen his hometown literally underwater.
Gamble + Gamble Architects
Husband-and-wife-led architecture firm Gamble + Gamble has built a reputation for designing progressive single-family homes, modern-style townhomes, and striking hospitality design. But the restoration of the historic (and crumbling) Clermont Hotel presented challenges on a new scale.
The Living Building at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech’s Living Building will take its name literally, generating more energy (via photovoltaic panels) and capturing more water (with a large, underground cistern that stores rainwater) than it uses. Its 43,500 square feet of programmable space will include a 170-seat auditorium, two 75-seat classrooms, seminar rooms, labs, a maker’s space, cafe, and student commons, all topped by a rooftop garden and apiary. Its composting toilets will use tiny amounts of water, and its heating-and-air system will modulate itself.
As founder of JPX Works, Portman has raised more than $200 million since launching the company with Bruce Fernald in 2011. The company’s Inman Quarter mixed-use development remade the commercial core of Inman Park, and Jarel says profits from its $72.5 million sale were poured into JPX’s ongoing ventures: the Lilli apartments and luxe condos called Emerson under construction in Buckhead, with unit prices starting at $2.2 million.