Trees Atlanta is nearing completion of its new Westside headquarters which will be named the Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse.
The new facility at 825 Warner Street SW is located on 2.9 acres of a former industrial lot facing the Atlanta Beltline’s Westside Trail. Trees Atlanta is transforming the largely concrete property into over 1.5 acres of restored greenspace and two large buildings to house their growing operations, community space, classrooms, and offices for themselves and three other environmental nonprofit organizations: The Conservation Fund, Georgia Audubon, and The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.
Coming Together Under One Roof
The new Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse is equipped to tackle the urban canopy challenges of today and tomorrow.
The property was originally acquired in 2019, but construction was delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trees Atlanta persevered and initiated demolition in August 2021. All of the old structure has since been removed, except for a former grain silo that will be incorporated into the new facility’s design.
Trees Atlanta collaborated with local architecture and design firm Lord Aeck Sargent to bring the organization’s vision of fostering collaboration, building community and inspiring action to life.
With 23,000 square feet of interior space, the new facility will accommodate both Trees Atlanta’s continued growth and staff from the Conservation Fund, Georgia Audubon, and The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.
The building includes all the necessary ingredients for building community among the non-profit groups and interested Atlantans: airy, open workspaces with big windows, generous wi-fi that extends into the greenspace, and easy access to the Atlanta Beltline and MARTA.
As Greg Levine, Co-Executive Director and Chief Program Officer of Trees Atlanta, walked through the construction site, he reflected that the four non-profit organizations “…are community organizations that actively change the environment for the better.” And now, Levine says, they are creating the space for their community to come together to build solutions for Atlanta’s urgent environmental issues.
To realize this vision, they dedicated over 10,000 square feet of the main building and outdoor greenspace to community engagement and education. The first floor will feature several modular classrooms with garage doors that open into the surrounding greenspace, and a catering kitchen. Local environmental organizations and neighborhood community groups can rent the classrooms for free, but please note there is a small fee associated with bringing in food and drink or renting in the evenings.
At the heart of their mission remains taking action, which the design reflects. The front entrance of the new headquarters will lead one immediately to what will be the heavily trafficked volunteer check-in center and programming station.
“Volunteers are the center of the organization,” Levine said. “And so we wanted them to be the hub of the building.”
The building also features thermal, bird-safe windows, a comprehensive stormwater runoff management system to protect Atlanta’s creeks and sewer system, and a granite outcrop circle at the front entrance reclaimed from the Atlanta History Center. The team even gave up additional parking space to further expand the facility’s greenspace, which will boast over 200 new trees and thousands of plants.
Growing Risks to Our City in the Forest
Levine understands that Trees Atlanta’s growth coincides with growing risks to Atlanta’s tree canopy.
“I wish we weren’t needed and that everything was going smoothly,” he said.
But their work is needed, desperately. The City in the Forest faces threats from many directions, namely increasing urbanization and climate change. According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Forest Service, Georgia leads the nation in tree loss, with Georgia losing an average of 18,000 acres of urban tree cover per year – more than any other state.
Climate change exacerbates these conditions, with 36% of Atlanta’s native tree species diminishing due to climate change, per a Georgia Tech study. In fact, some of Atlanta’s most popular trees, such as dogwood, sugar maple, and redbud, cannot withstand today’s prolonged heat and little frost-time, and must be planted sparingly.
How Atlantans Can Get Involved
Thankfully, Atlanta has a new hub and home for taking action on urgent local environmental issues in the Trees Atlanta Kendeda TreeHouse, which will be open to the public in early 2023.
Trees Atlanta is a nonprofit community group founded in 1985 by Marcia Bansley with the mission to protect and improve Atlanta’s urban forest canopy by planting, conserving and educating. For more information on the TreeHouse, ongoing programming and volunteer opportunities, or ways to support the organization, please visit www.treesatlanta.org.