awards + news releases
Winner, 2011 Award for the Best Adaptive Re-Use of an existing Building in the Stemmons Corridor by Stemmons Corridor Business Association for General Datatech Headquarters, Dallas Texas.
Runner up, 2011 Award for the Best Adaptive Re-Use of an existing Building in the Stemmons Corridor by Stemmons Corridor Business Association for 6500 Cedar Springs, Dallas Texas.
Finalist, Best Real Estate Deals - Private Green Deal of the Year 2011 for General Datatech, Dallas Texas.
The Dallas Morning News, Friday, April 15, 2011
Company milking old building by Steve Brown
A high-tech firm's new digs began life housing a low-tech business.
General Datatech LP’s new location in the Brookhollow Industrial District on Metromedia Place started out more than a half-century ago as a milk plant.
Foremost Dairies constructed the two-story brick and concrete building in 1958 to handle more than 60,000 gallons of milk a day. More than 300 people worked in the facility, which also had office space and even an auditorium.
General Datatech - a 15-year-old network services firm, which is closely aligned with Cisco Systems - began work in 2009 to convert the vacant dairy into its new head office and customer service center. It just moved its operations from a location on Commonwealth Drive.
The building got a new modern exterior and energy-efficient construction and will house more than 150 workers.
That we were able to create such a facility out of an old dairy factory and preserve a bit of Dallas history makes it all the more satisfying, said J.W. Roberts, General Datatech founder and chief executive.
The project includes 65,300 square feet of renovated space and 30,000 square feet in a new warehouse and staging facility.
Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates Inc. was the architect.
The project has already won awards from a neighborhood business group.
The Stemmons Corridor Business Association selected the General Datatech building because it renovated and transformed a vacant, 50-year-old food-processing and light-manufacturing plant into a state-of-the-art high-tech facility,” said Robert Todd, past chairman of the Stemmons Corridor Business Association.
Best Real Estate Deals - Private Green Deal of the Year February 25 - March 3, 2011, Section B
General Datatech LP was specific in its goal to turn 999 Metro Media Place into an updated, energy efficient headquarters.
Datatech purchased the two-story 70,000 square-foot building in 2009 and then added about 30,000 square-feet. It renovated the exterior and interior, replaced the parking lot and landscaping and took steps to meet Gold LEED Standards.
The green features include eight underground tanks to capture water for irrigation, quality air control measures and solar lights in the warehouse. General Datatech also performed energy modeling to eliminate toxic materials on the interior. The site was built in 1959 to house Foremost Dairy and had been vacant for several years.
Key Players: Buyer - J.W.Roberts (President - General Datatech); Broker - David Cooke (Stream Realty Partners); Broker - Gregory Cannon (Senior Vice President - Stream Realty Partners); Architecture and Interior Design - Edwin Smith (Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates); General Contractor - Richard Guyer; Terry Pascarelli - Facility Performance Associates.
Dallas Business Journal, June 26-July 2, 2009
Datatech to add jobs and space in corporate move by Bill Hethcock / Staff Writer
Data communications equipment provider General Datatech plans to add about 30 jobs in the next year and move into a 100,000 square foot corporate headquarters in January after buying a building this month.
The acquisition of 999 Metro Media Place in Dallas ends an almost two-year search for General Datatech, which is consolidating from about 55,000 square feet spread over two locations in Dallas and one in Irving, CEO J.W.Roberts said. The company's current headquarters is at 3160 Commonwealth Drive in Dallas.
The steadily growing company has about 170 employees and plans to reach 200 employees in the next six to 12 months, Roberts said. The new positions will be primarily tech job but may include a handful of sales and accounting positions, he said.
"General Datatech partners with companies such as Cisco to provide data and voice communications products and services, Roberts said. One of the top technologies that General Datatech works on with Cisco is TelePresence, which uses video-conferencing to link rooms in different locations to interact and collaborate. The new building will allow General Datatech to showcase Telepresence and other products and services, Roberts said.
General Datatech purchased the two-story, 70,000 square-foot building on Metro Media Place on June 1, and will add 30,000 square feet in expansion set to kick off in about three weeks, Roberts said. The building sits on 6 acres, providing the potential for further expansion.
Dallas-based architecture firm Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates Inc. designed the renovations, and a general contractor will be selected soon, Roberts said.
Roberts and others involved in the deal declined to release the building's sales price or the specific amount that will be spent to expand and remodel. Roberts characterized the addition as a "multimillion-dollar expansion" and the Dallas County Appraisal District values the building, constructed in 1960, at $1.4 million.
The addition will provide storage and house the company's 20-person light manufacturing division, Roberts said. Existing space will be renovated throughout, a gym will be added, and an existing indoor basketball court and 60-person theater will be preserved and improved.
Roberts bought the property because General Datatech had outgrown its existing facilities. He said the downturn in real estate prices sweetened the deal.
The building is ideal fit for General Datatech, which searched a long time for the right place at the right price, said David Cooke, vice president with Stream realty Partners LP's Dallas office, who represented General Datatech. Senior Vice President Greg Cannon and Vice President Ward Richmond with Transwestern's Dallas office represented seller Metromedia Investments LLC of Corona, California.
"General Datatech was looking to purchase because they wanted complete control (of their real estate)," Cooke said. "This was an opportunity to bring everyone together."
It's a good time for growing companies to upgrade into their own building, said Pete Richardson, senior vice president at Henry S. Miller Brokerage LLC, a commercial real estate firm not connected with the deal. "interest rates are obviously record low, and owners are more motivated to sell now than they were 24 months ago," he said.
"However, lease rates are also falling fast, as landlords get more aggressive to attract tenants", he said.
City By Design - an architectural perspective of Dallas Published by Panache, 2008 The Webb @ LBJ, Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates Page No. 220
Those not familiar with Edwin Brantley Smith’s work would likely have a difficult time imagining what is now The Webb @ LBJ - an aesthetically exquisite structure that houses some of the nation’s foremost companies - as a well-worn, windowless, vacant 350,000 square-foot mall with one tree on the entire expanse of property. Yet that is precisely the mixed media canvas Edwin was given. An artist as well as an architect, he saw beyond the modest façade and helped the developer envision a state-of-the-art structure with Texas-sized appeal that could be radically renovated within fairly monetary parameters and then leased in large units to long-term tenants, a far cry from the originally proposed Class-C office space.
The challenges were abundant but Edwin and his team responded to each as an opportunity to be even more creative, inescapably visible from the adjacent freeway overpasses, the building’s one-story roof, which was unrestrainedly garnished with myriad antennas, rooftop units and other unsightly elements, emerged as a selling point. These elements were removed and new devices were rearranged and masked by a chic yet simple palette of materials.
An interesting repetition of large cylindrical forms veneered with custom composite aluminum panels gave new life to the roofline, balanced out the massive building’s proportions and helped solidify the “information refinery” idea - a combination of the city’s image as a stronghold for progressive technology and the state’s oil and gas heritage - that weaves throughout The Webb @ LBJ. The sloped slices of the roof cylinders, which bear a loose resemblance to the oil storage tanks or stacks of discs, are attention catchers and suggest to viewers that much more lies within. Further representative of the architectural marriage of old and new, the original masonry work was penetrated by new ribbons of glass, bringing natural light into the once dark interiors.
To give the single-story structure an instant vertical boost and distinct primary entry points, the architects specified the addition of 30-foot tall as-cast-concrete pylons with supporting curved composite-metal canopies. The previously bare site was extensively landscaped using concentric zones of detail. The nearer to the building one gets, the more dramatically landscaped and hardscaped it becomes, creating a certain importance about the structure and a pleasing sense of welcome for those who interact with it.
Although the Webb @ LBJ was not designed for the purpose of gaining accreditation for its sustainability, the modest budget and architects’ conscientiousness and creativity took the gray field project in that direction. Existing asphalt was crushed, reconstituted and used as the parking lot’s base; bricks were salvaged and re-laid; and the steel was sourced from within 100 miles of the site. As the building’s extensive renovation neared completion, its appellation became a point of debate, but the principal’s idea for something memorable that would tell its story soon won out in popularity, and the 29-acre property was reborn as The Webb @ LBJ.
Dallas Business Journal, March 2, 2007
Work begins on new culinary school by Christine Perez / Staff Writer
Interior construction will begin this month on a new culinary college within The Webb @ LBJ.
The 50,000-square-foot facility will be operated by Chicago-based Career Education Corp., whose American Intercontinental University initially leased space in the building in 2004. The culinary school will include six lecture rooms, nine teaching kitchens and a full-service restaurant and bar, which will eventually be open to the public. The renovation project is scheduled for completion in July.
Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates, the original architects for The Webb @ LBJ complex, is overseeing design and project management. James R. Thompson Inc. is the general contractor. Blum Consulting Engineers and Baldauf & Herrin are serving as engineers.
Capstar Commercial Real Estate Services leases and manages The Webb @ LBJ, a 300,000-square-foot former mall at Webb Chapel Road and Interstate 635. Chris Taylor with Capstar says the property is 95% leased.
Dallas Office & Commercial Real Estate Magazine, Volume XIII Winter 2004 January 24, 2005
Extreme Makeovers By Edwin Brantley Smith, AIA
How many times have you passed by an old building and thought how successful a new building would be in that location? How often does aesthetics influence a real estate decision? How many times do aesthetics and location match up with the selling price?
There are thousands of properties throughout the world in excellent locations holding weary, eyesores which have outlived their intended use. Many become additions to landfills and are replaced by "big boxes' with false fronts housing voluminous space behind. Significant renovation, instead of demolition, holds numerous advantages for the ownership and for increased leasing opportunities.If teh following are in place, the building may be a good candidate for a significant renovation:
-Primary utilities with expansion capabilities -Logical vehicular access points - Reasonable building orientation -Structure and foundation are in good shape
Once these items are considered and receive good marks, the creative process can begin.
Consideration should be given to the overall context of the site. Context is defined as the physical surroundings, the location within an area and its proximity to other significant urban or suburban areas and amenities. Climatic factors should also be considered. Renovation should follow the same thought process and guidelines as the conception of a new building. This method of thinking allows all of the design components to respond accordingly. Where are the best views to or from the building? What portions are visually dominating?
A prime example of a successful renovation project is The Webb @ LBJ. In 1998 my firm was awarded the commission to renovate the North Town Mall. The location was excellent, Webb Chapel and LBJ Freeway. The building, a 1960’s regional retail mall was not excellent. Our initial investigations noted the one story building was most visible when traveling east from the LBJ freeway bridge spanning Webb Chapel Road. The problem with this view was an unsightly roof as the dominate component. Littered with hundreds of rooftop units, a central chiller plant and antennas, that roof was the introduction to Dallas that thousands of travelers from DFW airport passed everyday.
This particular view was used to the building’s advantage. Multiple, cylindrical design elements were organized on the roof with each cylinder representing an area served below by the encased HVAC units. Multiple repetitive shapes can be perceived while traveling at a high rate of speed. Pure geometric shapes were conceived as references to the historic Texas oil legend and the new Texas technology industries. This “Information Refinery” metaphor carried throughout the complex. With this theme in mind, primary entry components were reinforced with raw vertical concrete pylons. The existing low, one-story characteristic of the building actually emphasizes the vertical perspective of the new entry elements.
The original site included a 29-acre wasteland of asphalt parking. Landscape areas were installed to reinforce the primary views to and from the building. A new curved primary entry drive reinforced the new design. Planting and signage were combined with the building to create a completely new image.
This new image replaced the old in a great location. The building leased very quickly, outperforming expectations. Aesthetics and location worked together for a successful project.
The construction for this type of renovation is based on simplifying the process. It is usually best to completely remove all internal nonessential components. Non-load-bearing partitions, flooring, doors, windows, ceilings, ductwork, secondary electrical, etc. can be recycled. Once gutted, the building becomes a new pallet to work with. Many times historic items surface which can be used to further reinforce a theme. Be wary of too much deep excavation around older buildings because many times the utilities are not where they should be.Research documents well and use caution. Allow extra time in the construction schedule for unforeseen problems.
Some brilliant person once declared that quality sells. Quality may be the right product at the right location for the right company. If they say it is location, location, location, then location with dynamite aesthetics can’t be disputed as a catalyst for change. Given the same set of market circumstances, who will take the one that looks and feels the best? If a business wants to have the image of success, it should be drawn toward a particular aesthetic. If aesthetics are not a factor, they may need encouragement.
Lastly, owners should be prepared to spend at least 20 percent more than they think they should for the right look. Don’t skimp on things people touch, such as door pulls, hardware, materials around entries, accessories, etc. Allow landscaping to be part of the overall design aesthetic. Let the architect be creative and try to be in the zone of art and architecture working together to make the world, and our lives, a more rewarding experience.
Edwin Brantley Smith, AIA is president of Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates, Inc. a Dallas architecture, planning and interior design firm celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Edwin’s professional affiliations are The American Institute of Architects, The Texas Society of Architects and The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. He is a Registered Architect and Interior Designer in the State of Texas and holds registrations in several other states.
Edwin is a member of the Dallas Friends of the Arts District and the Fort Worth Kimball Art Museum. He is a 1978 graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor of architecture degree. Edwin Brantley Smith & Associates specializes in renovations of older structures where aesthetic change is of particular interest. The Webb @ LBJ project mentioned in this article recently won a local TOBY Award for renovated structures. The company’s Website is www.edwinbrantleysmith.com.