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November 12, 2009

Luxury Apartment Homes Completed Near Downtown Atlanta

Architects overcome site challenges and constraints to design contemporary development that ties into character of adjacent Glenwood Park New Urbanist community

ATLANTA., Nov. 12, 2009 – A narrow, 5.7-acre parcel of land running parallel to a major east-west urban freeway and characterized by severe topography, existing wetlands and significant contextual challenges has been successfully turned into a $37.5 million luxury apartment development two miles east of downtown Atlanta.

Known as Glenwood East, the 236-unit development, completed late this summer, was designed by architecture firm Lord, Aeck & Sargent for builder/developer Alliance Residential Co. It is located just east of Glenwood Park, the renowned New Urbanist mixed-use community, and slightly west of the Village of East Atlanta, a revitalized historic neighborhood.

A holistic solution

“The Glenwood East site, along with its proximity to Interstate 20, its 50-foot vertical fall and its wetlands and stream presented us with a variety of challenges and constraints,” said Eric Brock, Lord, Aeck & Sargent project principal and leader of the firm’s Housing & Mixed-Use Studio. “In addition, Alliance tasked us with specific design, density and parking ratio objectives. We responded with a holistic solution that addressed the enormous physical challenges of the site and met all of Alliance’s objectives.”

Lord, Aeck & Sargent’s solution was based around a strategy of placing a tree-lined street running through the site parallel to the Interstate. According to staff architect Ngugi Mathu, this allowed the design team to place the mass of the four-level parking deck as well as surface parking, between the street and the Interstate.

“The parking deck acts as a buffer to the freeway by mitigating noise and lights, and the street provides on-grade pedestrian access to each level of the parking deck from the apartment buildings on the other side of the street. This is more efficient, and it lowered costs by eliminating the need for internal parking deck ramps,” Mathu said. “The street also functions as a drive-through for emergency and service vehicles, eliminating the need for an awkward truck turnaround.”

To address the site’s 50-foot vertical fall, the design team divided the development into three buildings, each responding to the existing site topography. Each of the three residential buildings fronts the street with an identical façade but extends back to engage the topography differently.

Finally, to address the site’s technical problem of stormwater runoff from the wetlands and stream, the design team created an aesthetic feature – a small park, approximately an acre, with a detention pond.

“In addition to dealing with stormwater runoff, our ‘park and pond’ solution create an attractive gateway to the development,” Brock said. “Residents and visitors gain a sense of arrival as they drive, walk or bike through the park, over a bridge that spans the pond and down the street we created.

“Also very important is that the new street, bridge and paths connect Glenwood East to Glenwood Park, as it was one of Alliance’s goals to create an apartment community that would seamlessly tie in to the character of the New Urbanist community.”

A different, more contemporary architecture

While Alliance wanted Glenwood East to relate to its neighbor to the west, it also wanted the development to be different architecturally from the mixed-use, early 20th century Craftsman-style community, which has no rental properties.

Brock said that Lord, Aeck & Sargent created a more contemporary look with an exterior envelope of red brick, stucco and glass along with wood balconies with aluminum railings. “Although the three apartment buildings are contemporary, we tied the development in with Glenwood Park with respect to scale, proportionality and materials such as brick, granite site walls and lush landscaping,” he said.

Each of the wood frame constructed Glenwood East buildings is four stories plus an above-grade basement level with brick and stucco front facades. To mitigate sound and provide privacy, balconies are partially recessed into their respective units. The front corner apartment homes of each building feature floor-to-ceiling glass meant to give the buildings an urban mixed-use quality. The back façades of the three buildings form three courtyards, one of which houses the development’s outdoor swimming pool, sundeck and cabana with barbeque grills.

Each building also has a tower and spire that give the community a presence along the east-west urban freeway, since traditional signage is not allowed. The towers house amenities, and the westernmost tower houses the Glenwood East clubhouse and cyber café, with views of downtown Atlanta.

Other amenities include a fitness center with cardio theater, weight machines and a yoga room, laundry, a business center, WiFi access in the common areas, high-speed Internet access in the apartment homes, gated access into the courtyards and an on-site leasing center. The apartment homes are available in studio and one- and two-bedroom configurations.

The parking deck is pre-cast concrete with brick and steel accents and incorporates mail kiosks for each residential building.

The project team

' The project team for Glenwood East included:

  • Lord, Aeck & Sargent (Atlanta office), architect
  • Alliance Residential Co. (Atlanta office), owner, builder, developer, property manager
  • Kimley-Horn and Associates (Atlanta), landscape architect and civil engineer
  • Focus Design Interiors (Atlanta), interior design
  • Covalent Consulting (Atlanta), MEP/FP engineer
  • Davis & Church (Atlanta), structural engineer

About Lord, Aeck & Sargent

Lord, Aeck & Sargent is an award-winning architectural firm serving clients in scientific, academic, historic preservation, arts and cultural, and multi-family housing and mixed-use markets. The firm’s core values are responsive design, technological expertise and exceptional service. Lord, Aeck & Sargent has offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit the firm at