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Atlanta Dairies is nourishing goodness for local residents again. Starting in 1945, the Atlanta Dairies Co-operative’s Memorial Drive plant supplied milk to Atlanta families and schools.  A 1949 Streamline Moderne building, originally a laundry supply company, was absorbed into the Dairies operation in 1965, and connected by catwalks to other industrial buildings onsite. Purchased by the dairy giant Parmalat in 1992, the plant was shuttered in 2004. 

When architecture and design firm Perkins&Will visited the historic property in 2015, they found dilapidated structures battered by a 2008 tornado, burdened with graffiti and trash, and gated from the Reynoldstown community. Undeterred by these challenges, design leaders saw the potential for this brownfield site to become an urban oasis for the neighborhood and Atlanta.  

Lead Designer David Rogers notes, “We were excited by the opportunity to make a derelict site into a community asset.” The agile design of Rogers and Project Architect Erika Kane honors the site’s industrial character, meets historic preservation and building code requirements, yet appeals to today’s diverse building users.

A vintage Atlanta Dairies sign now welcomes visitors to a vibrant mixed-use project featuring the renovated main building with a two-story addition, a new office building, and a popular new music venue called The Eastern. Office space and production spaces at the original main building have been replaced with retail shops and eateries. Restoration work and graffiti removal reveal attractive red brick veneer. A new ground-level walkway draws local residents and visitors from Memorial Drive into the heart of the project: a lush, vegetative courtyard. 

During the design process, Paces Properties Developer David Cochran inspired the Perkins&Will team to conceptually load a “green bomb” for the desolate 10-acre property. His call and the need for more community greenspace prompted Senior Landscape Architect Steve Summerford to transform the former sloped concrete loading dock into a multi-level plaza with an abundant mix of native plants, outdoor seating spaces, and sustainable practices to recycle stormwater. 

Salvaged building components and spaces are artfully integrated into the project. Concrete from the loading dock is recycled as pavers, outdoor seating, and retaining walls. Steel beams from demolished buildings are reused for outdoor seating. Catwalks, once utilized to access industrial buildings, are revamped as elevated boardwalks with sweeping views of the courtyard and site. The former truck wash is refurbished as covered outdoor dining. 

Perkins&Will has received regional and national recognition for its design of Atlanta Dairies and The Eastern. With a creative interplay of reinvented spaces, sustainable landscaping practices, and salvaged and new materials at a historic site, Atlanta Dairies enriches its Eastside community and the Atlanta cultural and entertainment scene.

Melody Harclerode

Melody L. Harclerode, FAIA enjoys connecting the public to wondrous places as an award-winning architect, author, and Executive Director of Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta.