Metropolis: Industrial Reboot


Published in Metropolis, March 2019

Striking the right balance between individual and shared spaces within a single workplace is itself a challenge; achieving this for three distinct clients in one building is a colossal undertaking. Undaunted, Gensler took on and recently completed an adaptive-reuse project in Stockyards Atlanta to colocate advertising giant IPG’s sister agencies Fitzco, Weber Shandwick, and Momentum. “We saw an opportunity in having different marketing and communications disciplines all together in one open space,” says Matt Woehrmann, CEO of Fitzco.

The clients took over two adjacent structures that had housed meatpacking and livestock businesses in the 1930s and ’40s. To foster cross-pollination, Gensler connected the buildings by removing parts of a demising wall and cutting into a section of the second floor’s concrete slab. That created the complex’s most dramatic element: a skylighted atrium. Its stairway—with gunmetal-tinted steel rails, treads, and plenum-concealing plates—adheres to the building’s original palette, which Gensler sought to retain. At the structure’s base, an ash plywood–clad platform delineates a “room within a room without the visual barrier of walls,” says Gensler design director Michael Lutz. “It becomes a connecting spot, a lunch bar, and a place to gather for presentations, .Everything in today’s workplace needs to be designed with flexibility in mind.”

Besides this shared atrium space, employees of all three companies enjoy a common kitchen and various lounge and breakout areas, many of which boast vibrant upholsteries and floor coverings to offset stark finishes. The companies’ individual work zones recall their industrial setting with wood-topped workstations, gray carpet tile, and metal-framed meeting rooms.

Although the Stockyards declined from the 1960s on, it has recently made a comeback thanks to smart refurbishment of existing buildings. “We’re in a dynamic, modern industry that is never done evolving,” says Woehrmann. “Being in a historic neighborhood that is transforming to meet the needs of the future is very fitting.”