The 2,000-square-foot space takes one corner of the Woodruff Volunteer Center, a 17-story building from the 1960s that sits across the street from Hurt Park in Downtown Atlanta. The park and the new streetcar line on Edgewood Avenue gives AIA ATL a strong street presence, aided by 5G Studio's highly transparent design, which sits behind a colonnade at the base of the building and 16-foot-high storefront glazing.
Of note here is the large vertical bi-fold door set into a wall clad with locally sourced "forest free" oak (5G Studio designer Aaron Albrecht explained to me the wood for this wall was salvaged from trees that would otherwise have gone to the chipper). When closed, the door merges with the wood wall so the gallery space can host various events; when open, a larger meeting room, classroom or lecture hall is created. In the latter scenario, the goings-on inside the room – be it a lecture, a class or even a conference – are displayed to passersby through the storefront glass, inviting the public inside.
The existing building – a 22-foot-high space with an exposed concrete waffle slab, exposed brick floors, an original bank vault, and the storefront glass – put some constraints on the design, specifically the wood wall's location 7'-8" from the south-facing storefront. This dimension meant the door could be just over 14 feet high, in order for the two halves to fold up within the space.
With such a large door, 5G Studio went with bi-folds manufactured by Schweiss from Minnesota, a company that typically fabricates doors for airplane hangars, barns and the like. Foresite Group engineered the doors, which weigh 1,000 pounds each, to within a 1/2" tolerance for installation into the existing building. More stringently, Eutree installed the quarter-sawn white oak cladding after the doors were in place to within a 1/16" tolerance, so when closed the door looks like it is a seamless part of the wood wall. When open, the door's bottom leaf nearly aligns with the wood-clad ceiling of the meeting room, further uniting the two spaces that serve as a means for these AIA chapters to engage the public.