The Ponce City Market on the eastern edge of Atlanta, Ga., has aggressively aspired to become the fourth nationally recognized food hall in America after Chelsea Market in New York, N.Y., Pike Place in Seattle, Wash., and Ferry Building in San Francisco, Calif. The location for the market is the revitalized historic 1926 Sears, Roebuck and Co. building.
After acquiring the Sears building in 2011 and after pouring more than $180 million into its renovation and redevelopment, the private developer-equity group Jamestown opened the Ponce City Market in August 2014. The 2.1 million square foot Sears building, which covers 16 acres of city land on Ponce de Leon Avenue, was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A part of the redevelopment program included the addition of an eight-story cast-in-place concrete parking structure that would serve the new mixed-use market place and support a future high rise tower that would be built on top. Traditional materials, like metal grills and cast aggregate panels, were explored, but these were too expensive and required additional structural support beyond the cast-concrete structure’s capability. These traditional materials also would have jeopardized future plans by restricting construction to a much shorter tower.
Structurflex LLC, Kansas City, Mo., was invited to collaborate with the project architect, Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein Architects, Atlanta, Ga., to design, detail and engineer a fabric alternative. Fabric was a much lighter and more practical, and the design that developed uses a series of vertical, double layered bands of mesh cladding secured to a horizontal cantilevered structural steel framework. The fabric mesh is a silver metallic color that looks both expensive and substantial.
Bruce N. Wright, AIA, is an architect and consultant to designers on fabric in architecture. He frequently writes about the intersection of design, architecture and textiles for Specialty Fabrics Review, Advanced Textiles Source and Fabric Architecture magazines.