CNN Diner, Atrium and Entry, and Terrace Renovations
Owner: Turner Properties Inc.
Contractor: Skanska USA Building Inc.
Lead Design Firm: Hughes, Litton, Godwin LLC (HLG Studios)
Structural Engineer: Elkins Engineering
MEP Engineer: Concord Project Consulting
Navigating near-constant foot traffic, broadcast schedules and access constraints, the three-part $15.2-million renovation at CNN Center created vibrant new areas for the public and employees.
Since the building opened in the 1970s, the multistory atrium has housed a variety of activities, with restaurants and retail shops sharing space at various times with an ice skating rink, indoor amusement park and a multiscreen movie theater. Small wonder, then, that one of the area’s renovation tasks required infilling a swimming pool-size recess in the existing slab so that a set of bleachers could be erected to provide an additional waiting area for CNN’s popular studio tours. Other atrium renovations included relocating the studio tour ticket booth and adding a two-level food court seating platform with integrated benches, booths and open dining areas.
Totaling nearly 28,000 sq ft, the atrium renovations were carried out on a tight schedule with minimal constraints to pedestrian traffic. Along with closely coordinating schedules using advanced project management software, the team crafted movable 4-ft by 8-ft lightweight partitions that could be easily reconfigured as needed.
Elsewhere in CNN Center, crews overhauled an outdated staff restaurant and adjacent older studios to create a 20,200-sq-ft diner with collaborative work areas and conference and training rooms. Because the existing structure precluded conventional delivery of a new pizza oven and salad bars, the team used a crane to hoist the equipment up the side of the building and onto the roof adjacent to the diner. Attached to a gantry, each piece of equipment was guided across the roof to an open window near the diner’s kitchen and carefully brought inside.
For a new 14,400-sq-ft employee-only terrace, the design called for a large wood-covered steel pergola, which was prefabricated off site to save time. Due to limited elevator space, the pergola’s structural steel supports had to be hand-carried up four flights of stairs and through narrow hallways to the work area, all without disturbing CNN’s television production activities.
Other features of the renovation included replacing elevators with a monumental stair that connects with an enhanced conference center featuring a variety of formal meeting, collaboration and individual work spaces; a trellis structure with louvers and integrated lighting; and an employee-only recreation area.