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  • LOCATION Atlanta, Georgia
  • CLIENT Gay Construction, Jamestown Properties, Airspace and others
  • CHALLENGE Everything imaginable.

Jamestown Properties acquired the old Sears Roebuck and Company͛s Southeastern Distribution Center building in 2011 and has since converted the property to a mixed-use community food hall along the lines of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Pike Place in Seattle, and Jamestown͛s own Chelsea Market in New York. Obviously, extensive renovations were required, and Airspace͛s design work always showed an appreciation of the site͛s history. They made every effort to update the building, and preserve its history, rather than to simply remake it.

Gay Construction, the general contractor on the renovation, brought us in primarily as a sign vendor, but our extensive experience beyond that narrow trade proved to be invaluable. In addition to the work for Gay, we were subsequently awarded multiple scopes of work by both Airspace and Jamestown, with new projects still ongoing. We have also done work directly for more than a few of the tenants. Our contributions include thousands of signs and ornamental components for the development, ranging from tiny ADA signage to the massive, sixteen-foot-tall, open-faced channel letters facing North Avenue, and over a mile of neon. Throughout, we have worked closely with Jamestown, Airspace, and Gay, to overcome the various design and engineering challenges posed by an antiquated structure, evolving priorities, and the necessity of insuring that everything on site is brought into compliance with modern safety and accessibility requirements.

Any property the size of Ponce City Market has the potential to be a navigation and parking nightmare. Parking on site consists of eight levels of parking deck in and under the main building, seven levels of parking in the freestanding F Deck, two levels in the Retail Services Building, another underground deck at the Market Entrance and the open lots surrounding the various buildings. The result of so many parking options is a network of entrances, exits and ramps that visitors and residents alike could become lost in. The comprehensive circulation plan and directional package that we implemented keep that traffic oriented and flowing smoothly as well as directing pedestrians safely to their destinations. This wayfinding and regulatory system includes several varieties of hanging directional and clearance signs, painted wall and column graphics, electronic gates and remotely-controlled, neon lot-status signs.

The vision of Airspace and Jamestown, through the engineering and implementation of Henry Incorporated and Gay Construction, have turned this run down historic landmark into a major business, entertainment, and residential hub. This unique property is serving as an anchor to a general renovation trend in this corner of Metropolitan Atlanta.

One feature of the historic building Airspace carried over into the new design is the vertical stacked sign projecting from the front tower. The old Sears sign that once overlooked the Atlanta Crackers͛ minor league stadium was a local landmark. We are proud to have built and installed this homage to the original sign that was once seen by the likes of Babe Ruth and local hero Ty Cobb. The Babe and the ballpark are gone, the little two-lane that once separated the stadium and Sears is now a major thoroughfare. The building, however, and now the tower sign, remains as a reminder of those bygone days.

We also produced a variety of site signage including neon parking signs. The combination of neon, incandescent lighted arrows and color palette in these signs work together to help create the playful retro vibe seen throughout the complex. Another design theme carried out across the project is a gritty industrial feel that serves as a creative nod to the building͛s history. This can be seen in the raw steel͛ and bronze directory monuments at the entrances and matching directories at the elevators. Additionally, some of the wayfinding and information signage are styled as stacks of rough wooden crates like those that once filled Sears͛ warehouses on site. In the rooftop midway we built a freestanding concession building, added chase lights along a gigantic stainless-steel slide, as well as dozens of architectural ornaments, identification and design elements.

Thank you to How Stuff Works for the video.