Before & After: Transforming Ansley Forest Apartments
Atlanta-based TSW, an architecture, landscape architecture and planning firm, was hired by Madison Property Management to re-design Ansley Forest Apartments, a 1970’s era, 269-unit apartment complex in Midtown Atlanta near Piedmont Park. Now, after nearly two years of work, the project has moved from design to construction, with the renovation expected to be completed by Buckhaven Construction early next year.
“Making Ansley Forest more energy-efficient and attractive to today’s renters was an exciting challenge for us at TSW,” said Jerry Spangler, founding principal of TSW. “The complex appeared frozen in time. While the surrounding neighborhood has practically exploded with office, retail and multi-family development, Ansley Forest sat unchanged for decades. Because of this, the complex presented both positives and negatives in terms of re-design, and the owners wisely decided on a renovation rather than tearing down the buildings and starting over.”
On the plus side, according to Spangler, were the solid building materials used in the original construction, the variety of apartment floorplans and the generous ratio of greenspace to buildings, more common decades ago when land was less expensive. The buildings are two and three stories tall, and are surrounded by curved drives and walking paths accented by mature trees and shrubs.
“As the cliché goes, ‘They don’t build them like that anymore’,” said Spangler. “Every apartment unit has a private entrance, so there are no shared hallways. The buildings feature brick construction and are attractively spaced throughout the property. Residents enjoy private outdoor patios and garden spaces, if they live on the ground level, and balconies with skyline views above the trees, if they live in one of the two-level townhomes above the apartment flats.”
Because the owners and architects agreed there should be minimal changes to the buildings’ exterior structure, all interior improvements had to be designed within the footprint of each apartment unit. TSW began by creating open floorplans. They removed walls and opened up the closed-off kitchens, creating airy living spaces. Kitchens and bathrooms were outfitted with new fixtures that are not only more efficient, but more attractive and better scaled to fit the spaces. One of the most dramatic improvements came from replacing and enlarging all of the old windows in the complex.
Cosmetic changes included removing the old curved balcony awnings and replacing them with colorful flat awnings. Juliette balconies were added to some of the units, while the existing balconies received new wrought iron railings, complimenting the new exterior wrought iron light fixtures. As the project progressed, the management company brought in landscapers to remove overgrown vegetation and re-landscape around the existing mature trees and shrubs.
The final phase of the project calls for TSW to design a brand new free-standing leasing office and fitness center overlooking the outdoor pool. Because the existing building will be torn down, TSW has been able to design an attractive and energy-efficient structure featuring such innovations as photovoltaic solar panels on the roof. This final phase began last month.