A New Kind Of Hospitality: Behind Atlanta’s Renovated State Farm Arena
December 12, 2018
A $192.5m (£151.15m) renovation has completely transformed the nearly 20-year-old State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The next-generation arena celebrates Southern hospitality and the vibrancy of Atlanta and its people while redefining the live entertainment experience. By approaching the “renovation as innovation,” the building has solidified the city’s place as one of the world’s great entertainment destinations.
In Atlanta, a diverse and growing city, every professional sports team has welcomed a new facility in the last calendar year. When we were selected to design the transformation of State Farm Arena, we knew we needed to approach things creatively to differentiate the venue in an active sports and entertainment market. For us, these answers came from understanding the team’s ambitions and the culture of the city.
Atlanta is a “city of neighborhoods.” The BeltLine is an ambitious urban redevelopment project that is connecting the city’s neighborhoods through a 22-mile loop of trails and parks. Inspired by the BeltLine, the arena’s 360-degree concourses have been redesigned to serve as active hubs linking diverse new seating and social experiences. These include Zac Brown’s Social Club, Killer Mike’s SWAG Shop – a barber shop overlooking the court, and Giovanni DiPalma’s Little Italia collection of restaurants.
The unique approach to partnerships – which welcomed celebrities, restauranteurs and key corporate partners – celebrated the spirit of Atlanta neighborhoods, music and food. These partners were integral in the design process, shaping the aesthetic and encouraging the integration of creative concepts not often seen in sports and entertainment venues.
While these key partnerships helped inform the design, the significance of the renovation required creatively approaching the existing space and thinking boldly to transform every aspect of the venue.
To accomplish this, we removed an existing wall of suites that had spanned four levels on the arena’s west side, repurposing this space as viewing terraces, multilevel connections, Veranda Suites, Loft Suites, Top Golf Swing Suites (complete with golf simulators) and the high-energy, 18,000-sq.-ft. Atlanta Social suite experience. This required a truss spanning 173 feet and supporting a 1 million-pound roof load that was built and installed in just eight weeks. This openness allowed for every space that followed, from unique seating concepts to a completely reimagined food and beverage experience. The addition of a market, new shops and upgraded concourses reflect Atlanta’s diversity and unique food culture. The fan-friendly, elevated approach to concessions included hiring a chef from one of the city’s four-star restaurants and emphasizing local cuisine.
Atlanta craftsmanship is on full display, with warm wood detailing reminiscent of a concert hall, hospitality-inspired finishes, intricate tile work, and eclectic materials and textures. Integrated technology includes a new center-hung scoreboard that immerses fans in the action.
This authentic approach to renovation, rooted in the city itself, has created diverse options and craveable experiences that keep fans coming back to explore.
Emily Louchart is a Senior Interior Designer at global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm HOK