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Greenberg Traurig unveils new Atlanta office
Greenberg Traurig's new office on the top five floors of Buckhead's Terminus Two building is both spectacular and inviting. Glass-walled views are set off by white marble floors and walls paved in quartz bricks, punctuated by vivid contemporary art.
"We wanted something that was open, airy and transparent," said Greenberg shareholder Terry Weiss, who oversaw the design and build-out with another shareholder, Bobby Rosenbloum, aided by the design firm Nelson.
"People spend so much time herewe wanted the working environment to be an upbeat, happy place," Weiss said.
A bright, yellow-and-blue Roy Lichtenstein screenprint of a living room greets visitors in the reception area, floating above a white, padded leather bench.
White fiberglass waffle walls defuse noise and add visual texture on the reception floor, perched atop the 25-story building. Sheer white curtains, subtly patterned carpet and upholstery also soak up sound. "It shouldn't feel like a mausoleum," said Weiss.
Greenberg created a lot of what Weiss calls "melting pot spaces," where people can congregate, ranging from an outdoor terrace to a canteen on the 24th floor. Each practice floor has nooks with comfortable sofas, chairs and flat-screen TVs, as well as two team rooms where lawyers can prepare cases. "We want people to enjoy the space. We want them to use it," he said.
A large multipurpose room on the reception floor is used for everything from arbitrations to a staff baby shower, said Weiss. Two dividers can convert the room into three smaller spaces, each with a long conference table. Retractable video screens in each section slide down over limited-edition multiples by Louise Nevelson from her Reflections series.
"We wanted flexibility. We can try a case in here or have 65 people from the chamber of commerce," he said.
Eight meeting rooms of varying size and feel populate the reception floor. Some have a conference table and video screens for more formal meetings while others are smaller, cozy sitting rooms with sweeping views of Buckhead.
Weiss said the green and white canteen on the 24th floor is a place for staff and lawyers to congregate. The firm serves breakfast there every Friday, hosts monthly birthday celebrations and throws impromptu lunches.
One day Weiss came across six people at a table in the canteen whom he said hadn't talked to each other in years, all catching up.
"We want to have spaces where staff and lawyersdifferent groupsare all talking," he said. "We wanted to find a way to break down those walls so people are not on the computer and phones all day."
Greenberg's office took 18 months to design and build out because of a collaborative and meticulous design process. The firm didn't move from its old office at The Forum on Northside Parkway until May, two years after signing the lease. In November it unveiled the space with a reception for 500 guests.
Weiss said he and Rosenbloom talked to the staff to design the administrative areas and interviewed law students to find out what kind of space younger lawyers wanted. "They wanted tech everywhere. They want to take an iPad and go to the lounge, rather than have to work in their office."
The canteen, complete with more flat-screens and a picture-window view of Buckhead, opens onto an adjoining lounge, which, like the rest of the space, is fully wired.
Asked the location of the library, Weiss responded, "What's that?"
Ubiquitous wireless access replaces shelves of books, although bound volumes of the Georgia Code and other reference works are available in practice group sections. The firm has two Wi-Fi networks, a secure one for Greenberg and a public one for guests. A business center behind the reception desk has printers that can be synced to mobile devices.
On the reception floor, an associate sits in a glass-walled conference room, documents spread on the table, talking to another lawyer in Los Angeles via the video screen, which can show simultaneous feeds from three locations.
Weiss, a litigator, said he prepared for an oral argument in front of colleagues in three other offices via video. "I was standing at a podium and they were firing questions at me."
"I can have a client on video as well, watching the argument and critiquing me," he said.
Weiss said there are video conference rooms on every floor. "It is incredibly important for us to be able to connect, because we have so many offices." Greenberg, based in Miami, has 37 locations worldwide and about 1,750 lawyers. The Atlanta office has about 100 lawyers.
The firm bought all new art for the spacecontemporary, high-contrast, limited-edition multiples, photographs and paintings. A blue and red Warhol portrait of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis hangs in one of the 25th-floor meeting rooms, from a series called Ten Portraits of Jews of the 20th Century.
Weiss, an art lover who is on the board of the High Museum of Art, oversaw the purchase of the collection, eschewing an art consultant.
He declined to say how much Greenberg spent on the new office, but said that building it out in the middle of the recession allowed them to get favorable rates from suppliers. In some cases an inexpensive solution worked best. IPads outside each conference room are used for scheduling instead of a more costly system.
A striking collection of photos of post-Sept. 11 scenes cost only $25 each. The images caught Weiss's eye as he walked past a storefront in lower Manhattan. He learned that a nonprofit was selling prints of the photos and donating the proceeds to Sept. 11 victims. The shop was closed but Weiss persuaded them to sell him some images in return for buying them an armload of photographic-quality paper and some art supplies.