Anchoring the west edge of Railroad Park in the exciting Parkside redevelopment district, Bakers Row continues our tradition of supporting the downtown revitalization of Birmingham
As we approached our 50th anniversary, we decided to relocate our downtown Birmingham office from the historic Steiner Building, where it had been for many years. This new headquarters needed to continue our traditions of supporting downtown revitalization and being in a building designed by KPS in a downtown redevelopment area. We added a few new non-negotiable requirements in addition to these two criteria – the space needed to:
- Fit all of us comfortably on one level with room to grow;
- Be able to achieve LEED certification; and
- Fit our culture and image.
KPS had been commissioned by Corporate Realty Associates and LIV Development to transform the former Merita Bakery – built in the 1930’s – into a contemporary mixed-use office development called Bakers Row. Anchoring the west edge of Railroad Park and adjacent to Regions Field in the Parkside District, the project was in one of the city’s most exciting redevelopment areas. As the design took shape, we realized that it met all of our criteria while continuing our history of contributing to downtown Birmingham’s revitalization. An all-hands trek to the project site for ice cream sandwiches sealed the deal. As we carefully picked our way around the abandoned machinery, we were captivated with the building’s industrial architectural details and amazing sawtooth skylights. KPS, together with developer Corporate Realty, became its anchor tenants.
It took a collaborative effort of the firm, led by Birmingham studio director Hugh Thornton and involving several members of the architecture and interior design team, to achieve our lofty goals for the space:
- Maximized natural light and views of Railroad Park;
- Feature an open, flexible space that would both encourage collaboration and offer an as-needed entertainment area;
- Showcase design innovation and principles for enhanced productivity;
- Support the continued incorporation of new technologies into the practice; and
- Be a great place to work – comfortable for our team and welcoming to visitors.
Bakers Row has kept its industrial feel with concrete floors, exposed ductwork and beams, and expansive industrial windows, making it an ideal creative workspace. Left intact, the original sawtooth clerestory diffuses light while keeping out the summer heat. A flexible central workspace with expansive views of Railroad Park forms the heart of our office, with workstations and a large, open collaborative area with a central counter for laying out plans and samples. A floating “zigzag” wall and individual offices – essentially glass fronted cubbies – bound this central space. The reception area and café along the north window wall side of the building welcome visitors. A real benefit in Birmingham’s rainy weather is the covered parking in a renovated metal structure attached to the building. The flourishing Parkside District is an exciting location full of possibilities, with great amenities like Railroad Park, Regions Field, and new eateries within easy walking distance.