Historic Westside, Atlanta
Cost of Construction
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- including 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 echoed with an institutional feel and was configured into typical classroom spaces with sole connectivity via central corridors that converged at one very small vestibule between 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.
After an intensive programming exercise with the client, the team fully re-imagined the existing entry and confused circulation patterns and unified the buildings by relocating a corridor-interrupting stair, reclaiming an extraneously long ramp with the inclusion of two accessible lifts, and creating comfortable, lively and inviting entrances for visitors and staff. 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.