Star Metals Office is a 267,000 s.f. Class A office and retail building, and the most recent built phase of the larger Star Metals District mixed-use development straddling bustling Howell Mill Road in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood. The development located on 4.75 acres and includes 40,000 s.f. of retail in its 15-story structure.
Conceived to shake up the status quo of the typical office building, the project boasts expansive exterior balconies on every office level as well as a large group amenity deck on level 7, exclusive to office tenants, replete with a coffee shop, outdoor lounge/workspaces, and 30-person conference center, overlooking lush over-structure landscapes. Reaching a height of 165 feet above grade, the project is currently the tallest office building in West Midtown and provides unobstructed views of Buckhead, Midtown, and Downtown.
Our landscape architecture team carefully considered the balance of the developer’s desired program elements: seamlessly integrated and beautiful spaces to attract notable tenants; a sustainably developed and managed project that would pursue LEED certification (including specific attention to life-cycle costs, water usage and reduction, stormwater runoff reduction, carbon offsets, and recycled materials); highly functional spaces for tenants and visitors, quality and unique finishes and materials; ease of maintenance, indoor-outdoor connections and service, and day-to-night use.
While much focus here is given to the over-structure levels, the streetscape design was also thoughtfully designed. We worked closely with the city in adapting zoning overlay requirements to respond to the building’s program and tenants at the ground level retail, activating a sunken dining node with appropriate landscape and hardscape and stylized streetscape planters filled with graceful native grasses, pops of spicy colored perennials, and evergreen shrubs and groundcovers.
Above ground, exterior accessible spaces are found on levels 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and the rooftop. The Level 7 amenity deck is the development’s showpiece exterior gathering space, highly stylized and extending the interior bar (which converts to open air) with adjacent louvered and automated pergola, over dining and lounge seating, a central specimen tree planter, with built-in bench surround below, and built-in loungers, with sweeping skyline views. The hardscape deck features multiple materials, evoking the rich industrial history of the site as the long-standing Star Iron and Metals scrapyard. The design palette includes textured concrete pavers, Ipe wood decking, blackened steel planters and accents, and synthetic turf, all curated comprehensively, and particularly, with the ownership, architecture and interiors teams to provide a flowing indoor / outdoor relationship. A popular day or evening spot, the lush landscape, dotted with planters on deck and hanging from above, and with its funky and elegant furnishings, has been embraced by gatherings large and small as a floating oasis.
Overall, the project provides almost 70,000 s.f. of viewable and/or accessible exterior space above grade. The planting design includes areas totaling 34,000 SF, providing year-round bloom, texture, and interest. Of this total, 28,676 s.f. is comprised of the LiveRoof tray system, a proprietary light weight growing medium and pre-vegetated green roof modules at various soil depths. Our team and grower worked closely to refine the plant palette, utilizing the Lite (2,5”), Standard (4.25”), and Deep (6”) soil profiles to create an undulating landscape, while being installed on a minimally-sloping roof slab. Multiple sun, shade, and wind models were analyzed to create planting design suited to each floor and each orientation, utilizing water-wise plants. Propagation and growth were performed off-site, with them system then able to be installed, fully mature.
In further balancing sustainability requirements with engineering economies, the team explored the use of LiveRoof’s RoofBlue system, a product placed beneath the vegetated tray system to provide stormwater detention. This exercise proved very fruitful in numerous ways; the system allowed for the elimination of an expensive underground vault (already challenged with identifying a suitable location), drastically reduced stormwater challenges in land disturbance, and provided benefit to the vegetation through evapotranspiration, supporting sustainability goals and LEED certification pursuit.
Star Metals Office planting and stormwater by the numbers:
15,900 square feet of LiveRoof Lite: 0.7 gal/sq ft = 11,130 gallons retained
10,036 square feet of LiveRoof Standard: 1.1 gal/sq ft = 11,039 gallons retained
2,740 square feet of LiveRoof Deep: 1.5 gal/sq ft = 4,110 gallons retained
28,676 square feet of LiveRoof Detain: 1.97 gal/sq ft = 56,491 gallons detained
Total System storage for LiveRoof modules at Star Metals Office:
26,279 gallons retained
56,491 gallons detained
In addition to the vegetated tray modules, full depth planters with groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, and large caliper trees retained and reused stormwater on-site.
While still building out its spec interiors, Star Metals Office has already been widely embraced for its iconic architecture and innovative and beautiful exterior spaces, with new tenants actively setting up shop. The project continues to meet its overarching purpose: enhance and energize its community with seamlessly integrated and beautiful spaces, developed, functioning, and managed to lofty sustainability goals.
This project received a Merit Award in the General Design Category from the American Society of Landscape Architects during the 2023 Southeast Regional Conference.
Learn more on the benefits and importance of over-structure amenity design.