Not far from the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, another web of runway can be found gleaming in the hot Georgia sun, hemmed in by green, manicured lawns. The vast building that overlooks it may even call to mind the silhouette of a contemporary airport designed to mirror the idea of flight, its sloping roof like the white wings of gulls. Here, however, a different kind of flight is being honoured: the figurative kind, accomplished by one of the finest names in luxury automotive manufacturing. This impressive building is an experience centre; the roads before it, racing tracks. This is where Porsche flies.
Designed by HOK, the Porsche Cars North America Experience Center and Headquarters would need to fulfill a unique set of demands. “The design must allow employees and visitors to see, hear, feel, and experience both the emotional and practical benefits of the Porsche brand from the moment they first see the building,” Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board of Management for Sales and Marketing of Porsche AG, has said of the project. A big ask — but one that, according to Detlev, was answered. “HOK’s design solution boldly and progressively captured our Porsche vision and aesthetic.”
The global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm, originally founded in St. Louis, was selected to create a building that would be aesthetically and practically integrated with a looping, 1.6-mile asphalt test track. The building itself would be an amalgamation of Porsche’s corporate structure, bringing together employees from five different divisions under one very modern roof in Atlanta’s southern metropolis district. Three floors of office space include sit-stand workstations designed to encourage collaboration and creativity, further aided by an extensive use of glass on the building’s exterior, allowing these spaces to be flooded with natural light. This choice was carefully engineered; the building’s east-west exposure eliminates glare, and north-south curtain walls minimize solar heat gain while maximizing light exposure. State of the art conference rooms, event spaces, and a futuristic driving simulator lab comprise a 13,000 square foot business centre. The building is LEED Gold-certified, its green roof providing insulation and reducing the storm water runoff that can be of concern in the Peach State during hurricane season. It also allows for a smooth cohesion with the surrounding landscape.
The parking lot features charging stations for Porsche’s new electric vehicles. The track, which includes 6 different driving modules, allows visitors to test the limits of the luxury brand’s latest and greatest creations. The Experience Center is open to the public for 90-minute driving experiences.
Porsche’s history and design heritage are celebrated via a classic car gallery, where both vintage and modern models are on proud display. A curtain wall, as well as controlling light and solar heat, also helps soundproof the interior from the screeching of tires and revving of engines.
At this experience centre, visitors are able to immerse themselves in the world of the brand inside as well as on the track. A restoration centre, where historic Porsches undergo renovations, is in full view to guests. A restaurant — named Restaurant 365, an homage to the first production Porsche — overlooks the outdoor tracks thanks to a well-designed seating arrangement and balcony.
Big plans are underway for this region of the city, “Aerotropolis Atlanta,” as it has been named, is an economic development site being leveraged by its proximity to the world’s busiest airport. A deluxe apartment complex, a mixed-use building (adjacent to the Georgia International Convention Centre), a logistics centre (a massive structure designed to accommodate industrial and distribution facilities), and an “airport city” are all in the works for this sprawling site. Porsche was the first company to break ground on the 130-acre Aerotropolis, and today HOK’s impressive project is visible from the neighbouring, high-traffic I-75, as well as from the air. Passengers arriving at and departing from Hartsfield-Jackson are privy to unique aerial views of the Experience Centre and shimmering black track below.
Visit HOK’s website for more information on this and other projects.