JPA knows that commercial facilities help clients establish connections to hone their brand, boost their productivity and define their businesses. The firm’s Commercial Studio works closely with clients to help them articulate their organizational goals and ensure they are reflected in their finished work environment. The resulting commercial spaces allow clients to connect with their customers as well as their internal teams to consistently achieve great results.
Families First Headquarters
The Families First project provided the creative team with a great number of design and construction challenges. The building originally consisted of three existing structures built in vastly different time periods; 1911, 1957, and 1996- the oldest being the first African-American elementary school in the Atlanta Public School System. Each building had its own entrance and a floor level inconsistent with the others. The entire structure had an institutional feel that was reinforced by the typical classroom layout with sole connectivity via central corridors that converged at one very small vestibule connecting the buildings. The goal became multidimensional: to establish both a physical and spiritual home for a 125-year-old non-profit institution both established in and serving the same community as the original school and to preserve and enhance the historic character of the existing structures, while creating a beacon of hope for the community.
After an intensive programming exercise with the client, the team created a new entry lobby with an adjacent conference center and organized confused circulation patterns that unified the buildings. A corridor-interrupting stair was relocated and replaced with an accessible lift, and an extraneously long ramp providing access to the rear building was replaced by a lift which reclaimed formerly barely used space for a new community room. Additionally, the interior spaces were opened up and reconfigured to provide inclusive and collaborative work areas with glass-enclosed quiet rooms at the center for gathering and co-working. Focus throughout was on providing a combination of bright and natural finishes to balance the large influx of light and views of nature and the surrounding community.
The real beauty of becoming involved in a project such as Families First is in the reward of the team experience. Getting to know a group of people working for the greater good and allying the design team with their goals imbues the project with a level of deeper significance and meaning. The entire team leaves the project feeling more connected and having produced something of quality and importance that resonates long after the project is completed. The client gained a renovated historical building that has become a beacon of hope in the community in which they were established and where they continue to serve.