Atlanta’s technology community unveiled a massive project this week in the groundbreaking ceremony of the $375 million Coda at Tech Square. The building, a 770,000 square-foot behemoth of next-level architecture, will bring with it 2,200 new jobs from the many companies who desire easy access to the much-sought-after talent stream at Georgia Tech.
“Beyond it being just a building, it’s a building that’s going to live five minutes in the future, and be a demonstration of technology itself,” says Kevin Green, Midtown Alliance’s president and CEO. “Georgia Tech had a vision for a high performance computer center with a major impact to Tech Square, and in one master stroke, this project further cements Tech Square’s status as a world-class innovation district.”
In addition to traditional offices and collaborative spaces for private companies, Coda will host an 80,000 square-foot high performance computer center for companies needing their data crunched quickly. Surrounding the 1920s-era Crum and Foster Building — the only callback to the site’s past ‚ will be retail, a cluster of restaurants, and a large plaza.
Georgia Tech will serve as Coda’s anchor tenant, but Green and others with a stake in Midtown as a technology hub expect more companies to rent space before construction is finished in 2019. “I think Coda is such a unique project, this is a real differentiator for the right kind of company to be in that kind of ecosystem,” he said.
Coda’s only other official tenant at the moment is German elevator company thyssenkrupp, which is also contributing its’ latest technology to the project. During the groundbreaking ceremony, building’s designer John Portman and Associates and developer Portman Holdings used Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality to show how thyssenkrupp’s TWIN elevator technology — “2 Cabs. 1 Shaft. 0 Crowds,” says its website — will make traveling between Coda’s floors more efficient while freeing up more space for the building’s architects.
Coda’s emphasis on sustainable design also includes what Green calls “intelligent windows” made of View Dynamics Glass. The panes automatically darken to adjust to outside light, providing savings on air conditioning costs. Portman plans on Coda being LEED Platinum-certified, with chilled beams that will help with temperature control and the use of recaptured “grey water” to cool the computer center.
But what mosts excites Green is Coda’s relatively simple design concept. Each floor features a collaborative lounge designed to bring academic and industry tenants together for brainstorming. “I think that is a location premium for companies that really want to have the benefit of being in that talent pool,” he said. “Even within each floor, there’s half private sector, half Georgia Tech on the same floor. Very deliberate collisions of collaboration are going to take place.”
Entrepreneurs will be welcome, but Green sees Coda as more of an idea incubator than a startup incubator. “It’s not a place for startups to go to start and scale. It’s not going to be cheap office space, and I don’t know that startups need space like this. They’re looking for space to expand and utilize as they need to. It’s really an opportunity for private sector companies to work alongside Georgia Tech’s top talent.”
However, there are plenty of startup-worthy spaces near Coda within Midtown, thanks to Green and the Midtown Alliance’s commitment to attracting entrepreneurs in addition to established companies. (Hypepotamus covered those efforts in this profile of Green and the Alliance.) The Coda development is the 22nd construction project currently underway in Midtown, capping off a busy, but exciting, year and a half for Green’s group.
“With this project planting its flag and other corporations coming in, over 10,000 new jobs have been announced in Midtown, not counting Coda, in the last 18 months,” Green said. “There’s a lot of interest and a lot of activity.”
Will Coda become a tourist destination for technophiles? “If you’re involved in innovation, you’re going to want to come to Coda.”
Images credited to John Portman and Associates