Eberly & Associates
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Eberly & Associates
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kevin edwards
Kevin Edwards President & CEO
jeremiah phillips
Jeremiah Phillips Associate & Multi-Family/Mixed-Use Group Leader
mike wright
Mike Wright Associate & Multi-Family/Mixed-Use Senior Project Manager
jennifer ilkin
Jennifer Ilkin Associate & Landscape Architecture Group Leader

Gibson by Radius

Atlanta, Georgia

Our team delivered services for a multi-story, multifamily complex located in the Reynoldstown neighborhood of Atlanta. The design encompasses buildings of six, five, and four stories, carefully stepping down to transition into the predominantly single-family surroundings. Through the expertise of our landscape architects, we seamlessly blended this transition by incorporating decorative plantings and trees along the building’s perimeter. This development comprises a total of 205 residential units with amenities that include a rooftop pool and clubhouse, a business center, a fitness room, retail spaces, and structured parking facilities.

Renaissance at Garden Walk

Riverdale, Georgia

Our civil engineers, in collaboration with The Housing Authority of Clayton County and design team members, aided in the design and construction of an multi-building independent senior housing development. A porte cochere greets residents and visitors as they arrive to the community. Residents can enjoy a range of amenities, including a communal room, fitness center, social and recreational areas, as well as an outdoor courtyard, event space, and a garden. Landscape Architecture provided by Site Solutions.

Images courtesy of The Benoit Group.


The Works

Atlanta, Georgia

We provided Civil Engineering expertise for various aspects of the adaptive reuse project involving the existing warehouse at 1235 Chattahoochee Avenue, transforming it into retail and restaurant space, and a food hall. This multi-phased redevelopment included a new road extension connecting Permalume Place to Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard and 600 space parking deck. Site improvements along Permalume Place transformed the once industrial roadway to a commercial roadway with parking and access to the retails spaces. New sidewalk, stairs, building demolitions, ADA accessibility, stormwater improvements and restriping were all included in our design.

Most recently we provided civil engineering services to control and route drainage from adjacent property to stabilize the slope east of parking deck. Design also included a new set of stairs to allow pedestrians to travel from the adjacent parking lot to The Works. Eberly & Associates Landscape Architects provided tree protection services.


The Candler Hotel Conversion

Atlanta, Georgia

Our team provided civil engineering expertise for the the adaptive reuse renovation of the historic Candler building, an existing office building, into a luxury hotel. The newly designed hotel features 265 guest rooms, lounge spaces, a grand ballroom, meeting space, and an upscale French restaurant.

The Candler Building was Atlanta’s first steel skyscraper, was built by Coca-Cola magnate and former mayor Asa Griggs Candler. The renovation of the building, originally built in 1906, focused on preserving and honoring the building’s grand interiors and its ornate marble and terracotta exterior.

Considering an office conversion? Wondering site impacts?

Email Us for insight on what to consider.


What exactly do we mean by “designing a site from the outside in?” This is what we call the process when we review the outside constraints of a site and, based on those constraints, determine a cost-effective buildable area inside of that area.

We regularly work with developers evaluating sites to help them determine what size building they can build on a given site. Our process begins with pulling information about the site’s constraints, including topography, streams, buffers, flood plains, trees, and more. Next, we review this information to determine how to grade the site to accommodate the programmatic elements of the building while still addressing the constraints.

Case Study

The best way to explain this concept is to discuss one of our recent industrial building projects in Atlanta, Georgia. The number of trees in setback areas, and site density requirements, were the most significant issues impacting this site. Atlanta is widely known as the “city in a forest,” and this is due, in large part, to the City’s Tree Protection Ordinance. The Arborist Division is charged with protecting the tree canopy throughout the City. Had the developer moved forward with their initial siting of the building, they would have paid over $1 million in recompense because it required the removal of many trees.

Our design solution allowed the developer to maximize the site and preserve a specific density that would bring the project into compliance with the tree ordinance. In addition, recognizing the 30′ setback, we created a boundary for limits of disturbance. Finally, we worked our way inside to determine the orientation of the building on the site. As part of this effort, the building program was revised. While the building lost some square footage, a retaining wall was constructed to allow them to retain the number of employee and truck parking spaces they required. Keeping the number of parking spaces was critical because the developer also had a variance for a specific number of parking spaces.

Multiple options for detention were explored, including an above-ground pond, an above-ground pond with a cantilever wall, and underground detention. An underground detention system was selected, allowing us to meet the client’s square footage, parking, and overall program requirements. In addition, this system allowed for infiltration to meet the City’s runoff reduction requirements and detention requirements. Underground detention is not typical on industrial projects due to the large volume needed to be detained and the cost. However, due to the limited work area available on this site, the underground system was crucial to the success of this project.

This project also required obtaining two GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) permits. GDOT requires a 200′ throat length on their roads before a “decision point” is made regarding either a left or right turn. We had to revise the driveway, and they needed a right in/right out; this necessitated a driveway on a third road on the other side of the site. Site grades and building orientation drove the location of the driveways. Due to the needed location of the driveway, the required right-turn lane could not be constructed without impacting the neighboring properties’ driveways. We assisted the owner in receiving a variance from GDOT for the right-turn lane.

Why Hire a Civil Engineer to Help in this Process?

It is NEVER too early to get a civil engineer involved in your project. Our engineers put significant thought into the process. From helping with proformas and providing schematics, we put great effort into thinking about your project and how it fits on various sites. This effort enables you to negotiate a better price for the land because the land you are considering may not be appropriate for your project.

We also understand how zoning and site constraints can impact your project. Each municipality has requirements that need to be considered – physical, entitlement-based, and code-based. Our engineers and landscape architects understand local ordinances, variances, and other zoning conditions. We can help guide you through these processes.


Have questions? Need more information? Contact us today!

What is a Land Disturbance?

Generally, land disturbance is the result of any man-made change to a parcel of land that exposes soil and that may result in soil erosion. A land disturbance permit is typically required when 5,000 or more square feet of ground disturbance is proposed and includes – but is not limited to – clearing, grading, grubbing, and paving.

What Are the Types of Land Disturbance Permits?

Local municipalities typically issue land disturbance permits for any construction project that meets the land disturbing criteria. However, some projects also require additional federal, state, or special utility/private entity permits before receiving a local land disturbance permit.

Federal permits include wetland and stream (water of the US) Army Corps permits and FEMA Flood Study approval. Common Georgia state-level approvals include Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) encroachment, driveway and road permits, Environmental Protection Division (EPD) stream buffer variance permits, EPD Notice of Intent (NOI) to meet water quality requirements during construction, Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission (GSWCC) Erosion Control, and on occasion the state fire marshal. Special permits include permission to construct within utility easements/property such as Georgia Power. Additional permits may be required to encroach on private rights-of-way, such as railroad entities. Simultaneously, while obtaining federal and state approvals, construction plans are typically submitted to the local jurisdiction to ensure compliance with zoning regulations and local stormwater and utility connection requirements.

Why Does the Process Take So Long?

To begin with, we can blame the pandemic for a shift in work priorities, as well as the Great Resignation. Many industries and government agencies have seen significant turnover within the past two years, resulting in new employees being onboarded and “learning the ropes,” as it were. During the course of doing our jobs, we build relationships and learn to work with City/County engineers in various jurisdictions. Because of turnover during the preceding two years, those relationships no longer exist. We are working with new personnel in many jurisdictions and learning their preferred processes. It can be a time-consuming endeavor. To compound matters since the pandemic, several jurisdictions are still limiting the in-office reviewer meetings where interpersonal relationships would be developed in times past.

Another reason for extended review periods is the implementation of new requirements. Codes, standards, and policies are continuously updated. We not only have to be aware of these updates, but it also takes time for reviewing officials to determine their implementation strategy while project reviews are ongoing.

Additionally, unlike obtaining a building permit, which may involve two departments within a jurisdiction, land disturbance permits involve anywhere from five to ten departments depending on the size of the jurisdiction. Sometimes the people in these departments don’t see eye-to-eye. As a result, we find ourselves serving as a conduit of information between those departments offering the communication they don’t have internally. The struggle is that each department makes comments independently of the others, so it’s not a holistic approach within the jurisdiction. Often, this results in conflicting directions for us, so we have to work through comments to determine which department is responsible for each rule and how we comply with the regulations and avoid conflicting opinions. We are forced to be intermediaries at times between reviews and reviewers so that we can broker an agreed upon position to get permits issued.

Another issue that impacts the time it takes to obtain a permit is that some municipalities use third-party engineers to review projects. In these cases, the engineers are not employees of the municipality, so they don’t have the authority to make certain decisions. While the basis for their decision may be reasonable, there may be a gray area, so we have to contact someone within the city or county involved and work through the issue to find a solution.  fee.

Lastly, some jurisdictions do not have up-to-date online Geographical Information Systems (GIS). For example, a GIS system may indicate that a manhole doesn’t exist in a specific place, but we have been to the location and seen the manhole, so we know it does exist. Street addressing can be incorrect in the GIS database. In these cases, we have to talk with others within the jurisdiction, including local leadership (the mayor or a commissioner/council member, for example), to correct the information within their own system. These seemingly small pieces of incorrect information can add several weeks to the process.

Many of these issues can be overcome with proper planning and scheduling. As with any project, coordination with the developer, architect, owner, and other consultants on the team early in the process is key to a successful project.

How Do We Help Mitigate Long Review Times?

  • We maintain and cultivate relationships with review officials in jurisdictions in metro-Atlanta and across the southeastern United States. These positive working relationships help move the process forward in a shorter time.
  • We arrange pre-design and pre-submittal meetings for each project so that we can discuss the issues impacting a site early in the process.
  • Upfront research gives us a “leg up” in the process. We begin researching a project as early as possible. The regulatory issues we discover during this exercise help us to understand the challenges that need to be addressed.
  • Compiling a due diligence report for a site reveals many of the issues that need to be addressed. A stand-alone service that we offer, due diligence reports offer a deep dive into requirements and codes for a specific site. As part of this process, we also make calls for clarification. We provide an executive summary of the project challenges and opportunities, plus an appendix of required forms and documents needed for the land disturbance permit process within the jurisdiction. All of this gives us a deep understanding of what it will take to move a project along quickly.


Our firm has more than four decades of experience permitting projects. We approach each project with our client’s goals in mind and work to achieve those goals while also incorporating all of the permitting district’s requirements.

Services that we regularly provide on projects include:

  • Plans and exhibits that are provided to the environmental professional for their submittal to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
  • State DOT permits
  • EPD-Notice of Intent for stormwater discharge
  • State erosion control permits
  • Special private entity encroachment permits
  • Local jurisdiction Land Development permits
  • Due diligence reports

Contact us today for any permitting questions – we are here to help!

By: Lauren Leyrer, PE and Wesley Reed, PE 

Why All the Fuss?

In 2016, the Georgia Stormwater Management Manual (also referred to as the Blue Book) was revised. The main thrust of the updated guidelines is to design stormwater management systems to retain the first one inch of rainfall on the site to the extent that is practicable. The result is a relevant tool to help manage stormwater runoff on projects located throughout the state.

After January 2021, local municipalities across metro Atlanta began adopting these updated standards and incorporating them into the permitting process. As new requirements are adapted and applied, we are working with the local jurisdictions to understand and design to these new requirements, which we feel are important to share with our clients and design partners.

Let’s Start with the Basics

Water quality, as a practice, is one of the main focuses of stormwater design. As engineers, we design systems that limit the impact of stormwater runoff created by increased impervious areas that often come with new development.

The goal of water quality requirements is to limit or reduce – and ultimately eliminate – additional contaminates in the overall stormwater system in all of Georgia. Prior to this revision the primary methodology has been volume storage, which is essentially holding site runoff via detention to allow effluents and sediments to settle out. However, runoff reduction and infiltration evolved from this approach to the new standards of recharging the groundwater system. The result is that the rain or stormwater is slowed enough to penetrate below surface waters.

So, What’s the Approach?

At this point, it’s essential to understand that while stormwater runoff reduction and infiltration are often used interchangeably, they’re not the same thing. Runoff reduction is the methodology, and infiltration is the actual act of infiltrating. Not all best management practices (BMPs) accomplish the infiltration goal. Instead of detaining a volume of water, the goal is to retain a volume of water allowing it to infiltrate into the groundwater system.

The changing requirements from water quality volume to runoff reduction and infiltration are impacting the development process. In addition, the “tried and true” solutions that were implemented on previous projects are not always being approved. The result is extensive project redesigns and extended time in the permitting process, delaying anticipated project completion dates and increasing construction costs.

How is the determination made?

The Blue Book doesn’t mandate stormwater reduction and infiltration for all sites, extending the authority to local jurisdictions. Thus, the most prudent way to determine whether or not runoff reduction or infiltration is applicable is to perform a feasibility study of the site. After the feasibility study, an owner can determine if the standard water quality volume approach or the runoff reduction approach is preferred by the local jurisdiction.

Why spend money on a feasibility study?

Because each jurisdiction treats projects differently requiring unique solutions, we like to look at project sites very early in the process to note several things. The first thing is to determine if the soils are suitable for infiltration. Georgia has an abundance of red clay and granite, so infiltration is not always an option under those conditions. Groundwater is another condition that makes it infeasible to provide infiltration. If you have a high groundwater table, you can’t put more water into the soil than it can hold in a saturated state.

Ultimately, it is up to each jurisdiction to determine whether runoff reduction is required or if a feasibility study will be accepted. In some cases, consideration may be granted while not eliminating the runoff reduction requirement, allowing for a combination approach of runoff reduction and standard water quality BMPs to be utilized.

We advise our clients to have an infiltration test performed on the potential development site early in the process. A geotechnical firm can perform this service. While it differs from soil boring tests, both tests can be performed simultaneously. Once this information is in hand, it can be a crucial piece of data to support a feasibility study. It’s a small up-front cost that could serve our clients well in the long run.

With the evolving complexity of stormwater management systems and jurisdictional requirements, we find that thorough site research and analysis and conversations with jurisdictional authorities, design and permitting time during the development process is reduced.

Do you or your site need stormwater runoff reduction solutions? Reach out to our team of experts.

By: William Greer, P.E.

Most people know that a civil engineer is a necessary team member of any site construction project, but do you know how soon in the process you should actually engage that engineer? Do you understand how a civil engineer can help maximize site development potential? And did you realize that civil engineers serve as environmental stewards on projects?

A Valuable Resource in the Land Planning Process

Civil engineers are an integral part of successful land planning efforts. Regardless of the type of facility being planned, a civil engineer knows how much area is required for both vehicle and pedestrian access points, and how traffic will flow optimally through a site. Most people don’t consider how much space is needed for emergency vehicles, such as a fire truck, to navigate around and access a building.

Another consideration is to note where detention/retention management systems might be located on the site. Because it’s a requirement for most developments, preliminary sizing  of the area to be reserved for stormwater management  is necessary.  A civil engineer can also determine if this can be done above ground  without  going  underground because the latter can significantly impact project costs.

The role of a civil engineer on community projects such as parks and other green spaces/trail projects, is quite similar. For these projects, the key is to determine, based on the topography, where amenities such as restrooms, basketball courts, or a dog park are best located and the best way access them.

Identifying Environmental and Infrastructure Issues

Once an owner or developer has determined the type of structure to be built (healthcare, higher/K-12 education, industrial, mixed-use, multi-family, etc.), it’s essential to engage a civil engineer to take with you when you start looking at potential building sites. Professional civil engineers are trained to look for things that aren’t obvious to others involved in the project. To us, it’s not just a piece of land. Of course, we see the adjacencies – those developments or structures located adjacent to the parcel – but we also look at the street frontage and connection points to those adjacencies. Our experience lets our eyes take in the topography and know where significant grading, drainage, or walls will be necessary for the intended project.

“Eberly’s layout on a sloping site saved us 100,000 CY of earthwork resulting in a substantial construction saving while increasing the coverage, resulting in a project that “penciled”. – Ben Hautt, Co-Managing Partner, Stream

Of particular importance in the early stages of site selection is the location of sanitary sewer. Sanitary sewer is a valuable part of any proposed infrastructure. The main thing to look for is the ability to have positive gravity sanitary sewer flows from the site into the jurisdiction’s sanitary sewer system. Coupled with the civil engineer reviewing the site topography, the engineer will also be looking to see whether the closest available public sewer is at the lower end of the site, or whether generally the topography can be overcome to allow positive sewer flows. If not feasible, then discussions and plans will be started regarding the need to have to pump sewer (Lift Station with Force Main), or whether a septic system is adequate for the development.

Additionally, a civil engineer can determine if a building or development adjacent to the site in question has a storm system that discharges across the site. If so, that could prove problematic if not properly planned for in the storm management system. Foliage density can also be a concern. For example, if a 30-40″ in diameter tree is just over the property line, the roots are, in all likelihood, on the property that is being considered, and that could impact land use.

A significant concern for any project is stormwater mitigation, and reducing the potential of sedimentation entering downstream creeks and streams. How stormwater is handled can negatively impact drainage patterns, and it is important to know how stormwater drainage from your potential project can affect buildings and developments next door or down the street. A civil engineer understands how to slow down the rate of run-off and management measures that can be implemented to address adverse water quality. Some of the strategies that can be incorporated into effective site design include:

  1. Channel the water into underground storage tanks or cisterns for later use for toilet flushing or collected and treated for irrigation usage.
  2. Considered a “best management practice”, an infiltration trench or swale is another way to manage stormwater run-off. Typically used on projects up to five acres in size, these shallow trenches are filled with gravel or crushed stone, slowing down water run-off as it pours into the ground, thereby helping to avoid
  3. A third strategy is the use of excess runoff from building cooling systems to be similarly collected and channeled for reuse in different aspects of the building as gray water.

A Valued Teaming Partner

A solid, collaborative relationship between the civil engineer and the architect is paramount for any successful construction project. While architects focus on the design of the structure, civil engineers help make the design possible by speaking to several project elements, including zoning setbacks, sprinkler service elements, emergency exit locations, and utility availability that can impact the location of a building on a site.

Civil engineers also identify whether streams on the property require buffers that might infringe into building areas. For example, a site may require up to a 75′ buffer that will shrink a buildable area. Additionally, if a site requires  a  variance due  to water  sources  on  a  building  site, the civil engineer will lead the effort to obtain  the  needed  variance.  To successfully  obtain  a  variance,  the civil engineer may also involve an environmental specialist to speak to the science of soils in the area.

Finally, civil engineers also provide information to architects about utility availability that impacts site layout and supports new development.

Civil engineers are always observant of adjacencies and constructability when investigating potential building sites. Because of this, they can note optimal places on or adjacent to a building site for things such as staging and possible crane locations, thereby impacting project costs.

While there are some exceptions, most of  the time, the civil  engineer  and  the architect  are contracted to the developer and works alongside an  architect.  This contractual  relationship  works well because both disciplines tend to be involved in a project’s front-end or early stages advising the developer during site selection.

“As grading and utility infrastructure plays a significant role in the budget, engaging the Civil Engineer as early as possible enables us to make the best decisions for the design and therefore the Owner. We know that working with the land is better than fighting with it, that being said, we know that having the Civil Engineer come along side us in Conceptual Design will provide us with insight that will elevate our design”. – Bob Just, Principal, Cooper Carry

Sustainability and the Challenges of Adaptive Re-use Projects

The mid to late 1990s saw a shift from a significant amount of new construction to redevelopment and re­ use of existing facilities. This shift was ushered in by the USGBC s partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council to create the LEED green building rating system. Since then, other green building rating systems have evolved and are used today, including WELL, SITES, Fitwel, Green Globes, BREEAM, and many others.

Civil engineers play a vital role in adaptive re-use projects. One of the primary challenges is determining how a building’s new use will impact existing infrastructure, particularly water and sewer usage. It may be necessary to upsize infrastructure or verify that it’s appropriately sized for specific uses. For instance, if a restaurant is going to be a new use in the space, grease traps will be necessary. Additionally, some older sites weren’t handicap accessible, so they will need to be retrofitted for accessible spaces, loading zones and code-compliant ramps to get into the existing facilities. Also, if there is an associated surface parking lot primarily comprised of asphalt, it will be necessary to add tree islands. Typically, stormwater is only an issue when new impervious areas are added to the project, although some jurisdictions now require storm water management based on any surface that is touched as “redeveloped”, regardless if it is impervious or not.

Furthermore, civil engineers serve as an environmental steward on construction projects, creating regenerative landscapes. Typically working with a landscape architect to select plant material, civil engineers strive to minimize site disturbance and mimic the natural setting while leaving certain sections of a site undisturbed if possible. Civil engineers also seek to make surface parking as sustainable as possible by promoting permeable type surfaces for these areas.

An example of a site where permeable and porous options were studied for driving and parking surfaces occurred at the Cherokee Town Club in Buckhead. In one section, we were limited with ways of managing the stormwater runoff due to an already overloaded storm detention system. So for the parking lot addition for the Tennis Courts, pervious concrete was used. On this same site, because the country club was in a residential community, the site was also limited with adding parking in other areas close to the property line that should have been reserved as buffers. However, since there were special event times where patrons could do overflow parking on the grass, the permeable grass pavers were implemented. This allowed the aesthetics of grass but also having the strength to hold vehicular traffic and easily manage stormwater flows.

Many sustainable elements are becoming part of building and project codes, including how stormwater is managed, so it is essential to have a civil engineer on your team that is cognizant of those elements that states and local municipalities have adopted.

Are you ready to hire a civil engineer? Contact our team today.

By: Kevin Edwards, P.E.

Rooftop amenity spaces can be designed for a wide range of projects and uses. Installing a green roof is an especially attractive option as it can diversify the designed elements of an amenity space, and provide many benefits such as increased building energy savings, pollinator habitat, and improved air quality. Eberly and Associates is currently leading the design of a large-scale green roof in West Midtown at the Star Metals Office Building. Green roofs will be featured on nine out of 14 levels for an approximate total of 34,000 s.ft. The green roofs on each terrace will enhance the user experience of the amenity space and provide year-round blooms, which is great for pollinators and users alike. Beneath the trays on several levels there will be a Roof Blue system by LiveRoof that can capture and store up to approximately 56,890 gallons of precipitation.

Each terrace will cantilever from the building. This site condition required careful consideration while selecting an appropriate plant palette due to the varying environmental conditions. The plant palette had to be versatile enough to handle different sun, shade, and wind conditions on each side of the building under the cantilevered terraces. On each level, the green roof will be comprised of trays by LiveRoof of varying depths of soil including 2”, 4”, and 6” trays. The 2” trays will feature a wide variety of smaller plants including succulents, flowering perennials, and groundcovers such as ‘Autumn Sunrise’ white stonecrop (Sedum album ‘Autumn Sunrise’), maiden pink (Dianthus kahori), and ‘Chocolate Chip’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’). The intermediate-sized 4” trays include a mix of flowering perennials, ornamental grasses and groundcovers including ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’), blue fescue (Festuca glauca), and ‘Blue Moon’ woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’). The 6” size tray will host flowering perennials and ornamental grasses including ‘Salsa Red’ coneflower (Echinacea x hybrida ‘Salsa Red’) and pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

The Star Metals Office Building green roof will help compliment Atlanta’s moniker, the city in the forest. We are proud to have contributed to the greening of Atlanta, and plan on continuing this legacy. Our expertise with green roofs can help elevate any project and as landscape architects, we understand how to ensure a positive user experience with these landscape features. We are proud of our work and are more than happy to set up a tour of the green roofs that we have designed upon request.

The out-of-doors is certainly having a moment. In this time of a worldwide pandemic due to COVID-19, the likes of which the vast majority of us haven’t seen in our lives, our need for open space and nature is certainly amplified. The best practice of social distancing has permeated how we live, work, and play. As such, how do we rethink and repurpose our existing physical world, and design for future use, to assist in combatting the virus and enhance our lives and communities?

With the Urban Land Institute’s recent release of “Creative Placemaking: Sparking Development with Arts and Culture”, we’ve been thinking of these methods, specifically in achieving good design, and also in a post (or ongoing) pandemic world.

We are already seeing many design responses across all markets – education, healthcare, office, and retail. Truly, all places that we live, work, and play are affected.

How do we strike a balance of being social safely while creating a sense of community and connection?

We’ve been thinking of some aspects that we believe will be more important as we plan for the future:

Physical Space – how many people or groups do we want to accommodate and how? Are we looking at square footage counts for potential distancing recommendations?

Flexibility – allowing for evolving formats and programming. Identify ‘outside of the box’ open space; what patches of exterior space can do double (or more) duty? Think open streets, parking lot pop-ups, gated schoolyards and fields, easements, etc.

Inclusivity – In claiming and reclaiming exterior space, we have opportunities to ensure a more inclusive and equitable access to green and outdoor space. How do we ensure this?

Economy – how can we provide more and more space, but keep maintenance costs in check?

Comfort – how do we provide for all-season and all-weather use of outdoor space?

Identity – how do we maintain a sense of place, and integrate cultural opportunities?

Right now, we’re thinking about these questions as part of the design team for Lee + White, a 23-acre revitalization of warehouse uses in Atlanta’s Historic West End, and in particular, a planned 36,000 SF central food hall. The design includes extensive flexible exterior space directly engaged with the Atlanta BeltLine, and continues to evolve. Stay tuned for this exciting development and how it employs creative placemaking in today’s world.

All projects begin with a unique set of site challenges regardless of the compact urban site’s project type and location – greenfield, brownfield, adaptive-reuse, redevelopment or renovation. Greenfield sites require designing infrastructure, while other urban sites require changing the existing infrastructure to work with the site’s new use. Existing infrastructure includes utilities, stormwater management, surrounding roads, and trunk lines. Our team has creatively addressed each of these challenges.

Street realignment to create a more pedestrian friendly development and safer intersection.

The intersection of Third and Watkins Streets in West Midtown Atlanta was misaligned, creating obstructed lines of sight, difficult turning radius and often unexpected slowing of traffic along 8th Street, a connecting artery between Howell Mill and Northside Drive. The new 180,000 s.f. office building along the west side of Third Street and the 265-unit apartment and retail development along the east side will generate a significant increase in both pedestrian and vehicular traffic along the street and through the intersection.

With no planned stop signs or stop light, the increased traffic was a significant concern for the two separate property owners and City of Atlanta. Our civil engineering team designed the realignment to create a perpendicular intersection with better lines of sight and safer vehicular and pedestrian circulation.

Because the development had two different property owners, the intersection realignment required a complex real estate transaction between the two property owners and the City of Atlanta. Once the real estate acquisition and land transfers were completed, the intricate civil-site design efforts were engaged to relocate all of the City of Atlanta public utilities to the new right of way.

Third Street had limited traffic prior to this development allowing the contractor who was simultaneously working on the building and the roadway construction to close the street and use it for construction staging.

The resulting intersection with a safe and traditional traffic pattern creates a more walkable community and provided the opportunity for the 8West Office building developer to add public facing amenity space.

Existing storm and sanitary sewer infrastructure.

For many years Ninety-Five 8th Street was not able to be developed. A 60-inch combined trunk-line ran diagonally across the site. The prescribed easement created a 65-foot swath across the middle of the property where nothing could be built. From an engineering perspective, the adjacent streets had several conflicting utilities in the right-of-way and the shallow a pipe slope limited relocation options.

With the resurgence of Midtown Atlanta and the prominence of this site along the 75/85 connector, our team was challenged to find an engineering solution to create a buildable site. In meetings with the Department of Watershed Management we investigated the potential of relocation the trunkline to the right-of-way. We designed a best-case scenario path and alignment then worked with the City to model the optimum size. Upon approval, our engineers carefully monitored the relay of the new trunk alignment and connection with existing system. The result was a site free and clear of the infrastructure burden and available for development.

See what is on the site now.

Stormwater Management Systems within on a tight urban site.

Underground stormwater management systems are the norm on tight urban sites. These systems can be designed and constructed as cast-in-place facilities or as modular systems built within or around the foundations of the building. Each system is typically selected based on their respective benefits.

While coordinating with the other design and engineering disciplines working on the Grady CASS building, the team worked through many design options for the stormwater management system. Given a tight project schedule for this large hospital expansion in downtown Atlanta, our team chose a StormTrap pre-cast modular system. Our team designed a five-vault system to fit within the limited building footprint. Three cisterns are used for detention and two for rainwater harvesting. The rainwater system captures the first one inch of rainfall from the roof and then pumps the treated water for use in the building’s cooling tower. The team modeled the modular vault and worked through clashes with a 3D design management software to ensure there were no conflicts with other disciplines prior to installation.

Due to close proximity of the building foundations, the lateral forces from the adjacent foundations required a specially design vault system.

Lateral Surcharge

In the case of Grady CASS the lateral forces were generated by wind and seismic loads. When these loads are applied to the side of the building the foundations resist the load and hold the building in place.  The foundations then transfer that load to the adjacent soils. Since the pre-cast vaults are only 2’ from the side of the foundation, the soils will then bear on the side of the vaults. Coordination with the building structural engineers, civil engineers and StormTrap engineers led to the sides of the vault being thickened and reinforced to resist these lateral forces.

See our other healthcare experience.

Landscape Architecture, now more than ever, plays a vital role in education design. From the youngest minds to the most elite, it is clear that design can positively impact the overall experience and health of those attending these schools, and allows students and their teachers to come together.

Access to outdoor environments has a direct effect on our health. Fresh air, places to walk, play, and exercise have shown great benefits in many arenas. Specifically, in education we are able to use creative design to better impact, and assist students and their experiences. Focusing primarily on trends we may see stem from COVID, use of outdoor space aside from recreation is now more than ever needed.

Outdoor classrooms are seeing a resurgence. During COVID, the demand for outdoor classrooms has skyrocketed. Any campus without an outdoor teaching space is now at a loss. One area for users, and another for the educator. Highlighting this spatial division between students, and teachers can be an important COVID prevention consideration. Benefitting the health of both the educators and students. Infill can also be achieved on campus by retrofitting a steep slope, or unused outdoor space. Large or small, the benefits of outdoor classrooms are endless and create a pandemic proof learning environment.

A non-traditional amphitheater can also provide COVID retrofitting versatility. The Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s newly constructed Fine Arts Building included a future phased plan for an outdoor performance space. The performance space incorporated a simple yet impactful space-defining layout. A simple two-foot-wide cast stone paving band defines the space, forming a circle, flush with the flat South Georgia terrain. The performance space within the paved band is an open lawn which can be programed infinitely. Single seating, double seating, and more are all options. When not being utilized as a performance space, it can be used for lounging or exercise. It transforms into the simple type of campus gatherings and experiences you remember after you graduate. Future innovations in amphitheater design and layout will be exciting and new. An amphitheater goes beyond just being a site feature responding to COVID. It tears down barriers between an artist, art, architecture, and outdoor space.

We are also seeing these non-traditional amphitheaters in other school settings aside from higher education. At The Children’s School, we assisted in enhancing an outdoor area allowing for the same versatility. A beautiful space to gather safely and learn safely, for both students and their teachers. Although designed prior to COVID, these spaces prove useful today.

Another creative and multi-purpose idea is upgrading an entrance. This can add tremendous value to any development. Many times, the design is prototypical, consisting of a transitional space, with maybe a bench or two, and of course, a funky colorful planter stuffed with purple fountain grass. Especially due to COVID, these spaces need and can transform into dynamic spaces. Stairs and entrances can perform double duty as small amphitheaters or platform seating. Walkways can grow into small plaza space for socially distanced gatherings. The entry can be a collaborative effort to create transformative, site-specific spaces for its users. Now, users aren’t meeting in the indoor space; they are meeting outside the building entrance. Dynamic entrances moving away from singular programmed uses will be some of the most successful cost-effective, post-COVID outdoor spaces.

Greater access to outdoor space is a foundation for strong education communities and communities overall. This can come from both previously underutilized spaces like an entrance to larger more out of the ordinary like an outdoor amphitheater. As we celebrate World Landscape Architecture Month and take a closer look at this year’s theme “Growing Together”, it is important to look creatively at what this can mean. Now more than ever, our landscape architects are helping build safe spaces all around us, giving us peace of mind and allowing us to stay connected and thrive.