In Atlanta, 619 Ponce by Handel Architects and Jamestown is Georgia’s first building to use locally sourced timber

While Maine is the U.S. state with the most tree cover, one may assume the state with the highest volume of timber exportation is somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. However, it’s actually Georgia. This little known fact is evidenced at 619 Ponce, a new office and retail space in Atlanta that touts itself as being the first building in the state to use locally sourced timber in its innovative construction. (It’s similarly fitting given that one of Atlanta’s nicknames is City in a Forest—almost half of the metropolitan area is canopied by trees.) Handel Architects and developer Jamestown designed the four-story building with southern yellow pine timber beams shipped in not from Europe or Canada, but rather from Georgia’s own forests.

“By sourcing our timber locally, we’ve been able to reduce our carbon footprint while supporting local businesses and our state’s thriving forestry industry,” said Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, in a statement.

exterior of building
The building is located nearby to the BeltLine, where a lot of development has taken place in recent years. (Courtesy Jamestown)

From Ponce de Leon Avenue, where the building is sited, the innovative use of timber is less evident when viewed from the street. Wood frames the ground-floor windows, where a Pottery Barn store is located, while the facade was clad with a glass curtain wall detailed with decorative metal panels.

The interiors have been decked out floor to ceiling in timber. The columns, ceiling beams, and floor slabs use southern yellow pine sawtimber, some of which is from forests owned and managed by Jamestown in Columbus, Georgia, 100 miles south of Atlanta. The real estate development firm has a robust portfolio of “timberlands” across the country that totals over 100,000 acres.

The journey from forest to the Old Fourth Ward wasn’t tree to truck to initiation. Rather, the timber was first brought to Georgia-Pacific’s sawmill in Albany, Georgia, to begin its life as lumber. It was then processed into cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels and glulam columns and beams at a SmartLam facility in Dothan, Alabama. The CLT panels were then built onsite by StructureCraft and JE Dunn.

As a commercial building space specced for office and retail use, 619 Ponce joins a host of recent development in this area of Atlanta. The building’s large windows and expansive floorplan take cues from the vastness of its hulking, historic neighbor: the Ponce City Market, an old Sears building turned foodhall and retail venture by Jamestown. It’s only steps away from the expanding BeltLine, where tech companies are occupying new office buildings and residential high-rises are growing in number.

inside showing timber beams and flooring
Smokey Bear partook in the ribbon cutting festivities last month. (Courtesy Jamestown)

Office tenant Sage, a global accounting firm and technology company, picked up on this new development and chose 619 Ponce as the location for its North American headquarters. The company will occupy 57,000 square feet of the building when it moves in this fall.

Mark Hickman, managing director of North America for Sage said: “We chose to relocate our North America Headquarters to 619 Ponce because it is an ideal location for a tech center in the heart of this thriving Atlanta community, while also aligning with our ESG values by selecting a mass timber building made from responsibly and locally sourced materials.”

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