One of the fun parts of building the Atlanta Tech Village has been working with Gensler, our design firm, on the renovation and creating the story that the building we want to tell with the physical facilities. It has been exciting to see that the idea of the Rainforest as an innovation ecosystem has really fueled the creative folks working on the project. We recently had the presentation of the schematic design and it was awesome to see how the ideas of a startup ecosystem could be translated into architectural design.
The concept is that the building is a 5 story building with a basement level and rooftop terrace and the vertical programming of the building will be designed around the vertical story of an actual rainforest. This legend shows our building levels on the right and the rainforest layers on the left:
- The basement / club level – the root system - will be the foundation of the building. Gyms, locker rooms, showers, massage room, a video production facility, and a small server room. The textures, colors and fixtures will be designed to show that the root system of a technology building are humming with life to deliver the fuel that the forest needs to thrive.
- The first level — the Forest Floor layer — the community center, coffee shop, event center, 400 seat auditorium, plaza park, lobby atrium, patio dining area. This floor is where the highest volume of serendipity happens. This is where, in the rainforest, the “litterfall” lands as it falls from the canopy. Basic building blocks are broken down and recycled. Accidents happen. Ideas, talent, and capital find each other in exciting ways. Atoms run into each other just as people run into each other and new life is formed… weeds and all.
- The second floor – the Understory Layer — coworking desks, unreserved desks, conference rooms, small glass offices for 2-4 people, and soft seating for quiet collaboration. In the rainforest, this is where young trees begin. Vines begin to gain traction and shrubs thrive.
- Levels 3, 4, and 5– the Canopy Layer — private suites, shared community centers, conference rooms — varied lease terms for more established companies. In the rainforest, this is the main layer with thick density. The branches overlap commonly to share resources, but they are firmly attached to established trees. The canopy layer retains moisture of the forest floor. Just as the canopy layer does for the rainforest, these established, growing companies are a critical component of the ecosystem.
- Rooftop Terrace — The Emergent layer — Select trees will rise above the canopy. These are the exceptions that inspire us, just as the Atlanta Tech Village rooftop experience will inspire all who visit. The emergent trees produce seeds with wings, myst be adapted to a bright, open, and changeable world… only a few will reach this level of growth.
I underestimated how fun it would be to go through this design process. I was expecting nothing more than repetitive, tedious line drawings of floor plans and desk arrangements. And yes, while we’ve spent 80% of the process on those floor plans and desk layouts, designing the story of the building has been very exciting.
I hope that what we build here will be the place where my children decide to start their tech companies in 20 years.