Icon Midtown: It’s All in the Name
As implied by its name, Icon Midtown is an iconic landmark in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. Signifying The Related Group’s entry into the Atlanta market, this 39-story, mixed-use residential tower is the tallest tower built in the City since 2009 and provides 400-plus new residents with a place to call home. Balfour Beatty navigated multiple challenges while transforming the Midtown skyline, and at every turn, developed creative and efficient solutions that achieved the owner’s goals and empowered our trade partners.
Charting the Course
Having recently built high-rise towers in the area, our teammates were cognizant of this project’s monumental challenges. Demonstrating the diligence that would carry them through the project, Balfour Beatty’s preconstruction and operations teams began planning their approach to get the project out of the ground months ahead of being selected as the general contractor.
Ahead of selection, our preconstruction team began evaluating cost drivers and identifying efficient solutions for structure and MEP. With the assistance of trade partners, the team was able to identify multiple viable solutions, including the implementation of a Variable Refrigerant HVAC System (VRF system).
Creativity Helps Maintain Momentum in the Field
As one of the largest VRF systems implemented in the United States to date, the overall benefits of this system quickly outweighed the initial investment. Reducing electrical costs, electrical design inside the building and the load on each unit, the VRF system isolates the units per floor through an exterior mechanical balcony. This eliminates the need to house units on the rooftop and opens the door for better use as rooftop amenity space for residents.
The systems also created various efficiencies, including an energy recovery system, which provides the most energy-efficient system possible for heating and cooling of residential units. Aside from the benefits for investors and residents, it also offered benefits to the construction team. Getting the systems online and air moving earlier per floor, rather than waiting for the rooftop farm to be put in place, meant the ability to start finishes sooner.
Seeking unique project solutions extended beyond the preconstruction phase. Upon drilling for the foundations, pre-existing site conditions were quickly uncovered, and plans for rock blasting were set in motion. As the dust settled, the team was able to move forward, though this unexpected issue impacted the schedule. To make up for the unexpected sitework, the team mobilized additional caisson equipment to account for the oversized caissons being installed in preparation for Phase 2 and re-sequenced the work. As planned, the momentum began to rebuild once the foundations were poured and the statuesque tower began to rise out of the ground, floor-by-floor.
The building’s window wall system was manufactured off-site, along with various other mechanical systems, to help accelerate the project timeline. The team employed building information modeling (BIM) technology to maximize efficient coordination with trade partners and to mitigate potential challenges well before installing mechanical systems or the building’s skin. This approach minimized re-work, and in fact, there were less than five instances in which clashes were detected and resolutions had to be developed on-site – a major accomplishment on a project of this size.
Deliveries, Permitting and Laydown, Oh My!
From a logistics standpoint, limited material laydown space was a challenge from day one. Anticipating this, our team implemented a well-organized and systematic method called “just-in-time” deliveries. With this approach, the team was able to get the wall forms in place more expediently, alleviating laydown challenges and keeping major project milestones on track.
Dealing with the impacts of the local multifamily construction boom, the project team also worked in close coordination with the City of Atlanta to obtain street and sidewalk closures. With various projects adjacent to the jobsite, obtaining the appropriate permits in a timely fashion was a challenge and resulted in various workarounds and creative thinking, always with the goal of maintaining progress in the field.
Rising to the Challenge
Despite these challenges, the tenacity of the team kept the project moving. The artwork was installed on the north side of the building and has given even more life to the tower’s exterior. These 390 luxury apartments with 6,500 square feet of retail space have become a staple in the City, featuring a pool terrace with clubroom amenities, a fire pit terrace on the 39th floor and an on-site Whole Foods serving as the anchor tenant, which Balfour Beatty also constructed.
To both Balfour Beatty and the City of Atlanta, this project represents more than 1,032,000 person hours of work put in place—more than 32,000 cubic yards of concrete poured, 2,700 tons of rebar and 215 miles of post tension cable installed. Collectively, the team can be proud of their contribution to the Midtown skyline, and residents will enjoy the views for years to come.