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State Farm Park Center to Employ Thousands in ATL

The project is described as one of the largest corporate office projects in metro Atlanta’s history.

Mon December 22, 2014 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

Described as one of the largest corporate office projects in metro Atlanta’s history, the State Farm Park Center development at Central Perimeter will include a 13-story tower that will serve as a hub for the insurance powerhouse when completed. The structure is part of a new 17-acre master-planned project in Dunwoody, Ga.

“Park Center will feature walkable access to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority [MARTA], retail, entertainment, restaurants and hospitality,” said Alex Chambers, regional vice president, KDC Real Estate Development & Investments. “We are working to create a ’workplace of the future’ including a live/work/play environment with housing, public transportation, shopping and entertainment, all within easy access.”

KDC plans to build the project in phases over the next decade. The first phase will include 585,000 sq. ft. (54,348.2 sq m) of State Farm office space. The full site plan includes 2.2 million sq. ft. (204,386.8 sq m) of office space, 100,000 sq. ft. (9,290.3 sq m) of retail, and a 200-room hotel. The Park Center site includes the existing Hammond Exchange property and the adjacent 3.9 acres formerly occupied by Chequers Seafood Grill. Future phasing options have not been finalized.

“We believe Park Center and Dunwoody offer State Farm a compelling opportunity to expand in an area with an abundance of amenities where they already have a strong presence of experienced, skilled employees,” Chambers said. “The overall project is being designed to engage the public and function as private space the public can utilize. The overall connectivity within the campus, as well as to MARTA, and the exiting amenities and future parks in Dunwoody should create an environment unlike any in Atlanta or the Southeast. KDC is committed to ensuring Park Center is a recruiting tool for State Farm and a project the community can embrace.”

Construction on the project began on site in August 2014. There will be approximately 4,000 workers on the project from start to finish.

“The property was previously occupied by two former restaurants, each one story, and supporting parking areas,” said Bryan Taylor, senior project manager of general contractor Holder Construction Company. “The property is located at the southeast intersection of Perimeter Center Parkway and Hammond Drive.

“Currently, mass excavation of the project site along with temporary construction dewatering to support earthwork operations is taking place. The installation of the shoring wall system will begin during the month of September. Demolition of the two existing structures has been completed, along with the clearing and grubbing of the site and installation of erosion control to support the start of excavation work on site.”

Roughly 164,365 cu. yds. (125,666 cu m) of material will be moved on the job. Equipment being used includes excavators, Komatsu loaders and dozers. Some of the materials to be used on the project include 58,000 sq. ft. (5,388.3 sq m) of temporary shotcrete shoring wall system, 155,000 lineal ft. (35,052 m) of barrier cable rail, 71,000 cu. yds. (54,283.3 cu m) of concrete, 5,500 tons (4,989.5 t) of reinforcing steel, 1.3 million lbs. (589,670 kg) of post tension cables and 135,000 sq. ft. (12,541.9 sq m) of exterior glass curtainwall system.

“The parking structure encompasses the site and will be broken down into multiple phases,” said Taylor. “The areas of the deck below the office tower will be completed first to support the schedule of the office tower. The areas outside of the tower footprint will be sequenced to support the overall schedule.”

Some of the main tasks to be carried out include foundations, structure, skin and build out. As for the retail space, it is still in design for final layout.

Weather has not been a factor regarding excavation work, and there have been no complications to date.

The project is pursuing LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, according to Chambers.

“KDC is a recognized leader in developing environmentally sustainable campuses, and is committed to finding solutions that reduce the impact of development to conserve our environment for future generations. We believe the LEED Silver Certification and the overall connectivity to the existing and planned park system in Dunwoody will be additional tools for State Farm to attract and retain high-quality employees.”

The overall sustainability program is still being finalized. Tracking and documentation during the construction phase of the project on credits will be key, regarding the construction waste management plan, recycled content, regional materials, certified wood, the construction IAQ management plan and low emitting materials.

Cooper Carry & Associates is the architect for the shell building and interiors.

“The location had a huge impact on the design,” said Bill Halter, AIA, LEED AP. “The client wanted the building to be a part of the Dunwoody community and have a strong relationship to the MARTA station. Our vision was to create a state-of-the art-workplace to assist State Farm with their recruiting and retention of employees, and to create a dynamic live-work-play environment for both State Farm employees and the residents and visitors of the Dunwoody community.”

Cooper Carry & Associates aimed to create a sense of community through its designs.

“We did so by connecting two planned parks on either side of the property with a new ’community park’ that provides an urban space between the office and retail program,” said Halter. “This space will become the heart of the Park Center campus.

“Our goal was to do a great job of integrating a very large building into the scale of Dunwoody. State Farm challenged Cooper Carry to be creative and bold. We decided to take the approach of a very simple building skin throughout and introduce four principle features.

“First, we ’folded’ the plan to break up the scale of the large floor plate. Second, we introduced the horizontal and vertical ’gasket’ that defines the low-rise and high-rise portions of the building and the two distinct cores that serve each floor. Third, we created a street-level experience that is very transparent and interesting, to create a great street vibe. We also introduced a new, and what will be a vibrant, people place access to the Dunwoody MARTA station.”

The biggest challenge for the design team was fitting a very large and complex building on a very tight site. Being respectful to the environment was also a chief concern during the creative process.

“Cooper Carry approaches all our design work with an attitude toward sustainable principles, so when State Farm asked for LEED Silver we were already in that mindset. The site is a natural for sustainable design, because it had been previously developed and has the direct connection to the MARTA Dunwoody station.”

KDC formally broke ground on the Park Center development in May 2014. A large group of dignitaries turned out for the event.

“We are pleased to be part of this collaborative project as we expand to a multi-functional facility in metro Atlanta,” Mary Crego, senior vice president of State Farm told reporters. “This is one of many changes to position State Farm to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

“State Farm’s decision to expand its presence here is a testament to our state’s competitive business environment,” Gov. Nathan Deal said to the crowd. “One of the leading insurance providers in the nation, State Farm will benefit from Georgia’s pro-business infrastructure, and our highly skilled workforce will help the company continue to provide the highest levels of customer service to policyholders. I welcome State Farm’s expansion in Metro Atlanta and thank them for bringing thousands of additional good jobs to Georgia.”

The first building will be located on a seven-level parking structure. The new Park Center facility will serve as part of the Atlanta hub, housing employees who will work collectively across several functions to serve customers. State Farm currently employs approximately 5,500 people in metro Atlanta, but plans to add additional buildings over the next ten years, eventually employing approximately 8,000 people in the area. Its offices will serve as one of three major sites for the company, including Dallas and Phoenix, along with the corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Ill.

Dallas-based KDC has completed more than 125 corporate build-to-suit office and industrial projects valued at more than $3.5 billion and totaling more than 27 million sq. ft. For Chambers and the entire development team, watching this latest building come to life is both rewarding and inspiring.

“We envision buildings and offices that foster a creative and collaborative environment — open spaces and meeting areas, a bright and new look and feel, comfortable gathering areas, and easily accessible amenities.”

The new office tower is expected to open in late 2016.

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