Case Study Georgia State University

Project Details
Project: Georgia State University
Segment: Education
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
DESIGNER / ARCHITECT:  Lord Aeck & Sargent Architecture

Atlanta’s historic Fairlie-Poplar district is the location for one of Georgia State University’s showcase buildings. The Helen M. Aderhold Learning Center has received nationwide attention for its unique design, and an honorable mention in College Planning & Management magazine’s 2003 Education Design Showcase. Armstrong linoleum, which may well have covered the floors in many of the original buildings in the vicinity, is used on every floor in Aderhold. The floor covering is integral to the aesthetics the specifiers envisioned and the performance the facilities staff and planning committees require.

The exterior of Aderhold blends in with the area’s historic storefronts. The structure is located across from the famous “Flat Iron Building” and nearby other architectural treasures on Peachtree Street. Aderhold occupies an entire city block, and its layout replicates the original space in many ways. For example, an expansive central atrium is positioned where an alley used to be, and 20,000 square feet of retail space in the building perimeter fronts the sidewalks on the ground level. All other spaces are dedicated to university activities including 48 classrooms. Five stories of flexible learning spaces accommodate the needs of more than 2,000 students on any given day.

Underfoot in the corridors and open areas is Armstrong MARMORETTE linoleum. MARMORETTE is Armstrong’s flagship linoleum sheet floor, featuring fine marbling characteristics and rich pigments in a wide choice of colors, plus coordinating rods for heatwelded seams.

Looking down from the vaulted barrel four-story atrium ceiling, the view is one of coordinated earthtone passageways with brilliantly colored insets. Lord Aeck & Sargent Architecture selected MARMORETTE for a variety of reasons. Linoleum is being rediscovered although it is one of the original resilient floor coverings. “Linoleum offers ease of maintenance and impact sound absorption that works extremely well in high traffic areas with an atrium. It is also a natural material, as are the other architectural products used in this job,” says Claire Oviatt, interior designer. “The floor pattern gave us the look we were after for blending traditional spaces with new technology. Plus, MARMORETTE gave us the options we were seeking for connecting accent colors with background colors,” adds architect Meg Needle. “This product has the color saturation and sophisticated pattern to cover broad areas.”

Custodian foreman Al Gore says, “Although the floors are in high traffic zones, they are holding up even better than many of the floors in the classrooms. The school is active around the clock. We’ve got to be able to get in, clean the floor, and get out without much fuss and time. The third shift cleans the floors two times weekly, and they look great. Even the seams, which tend to get dirty before the floor, clean easily.” Annual maintenance includes two coats of sealer and three coats of a matte finish wax.

Gore also says the acoustics are improved with linoleum. “I never notice footsteps the way I do with the other hard floors. I thought we’d hear footsteps echoing in the atrium because it is hollow, but we don’t,” he comments. He adds that chairs don’t make a scraping noise when students move them from table to table in the cyber café area on the ground floor. “That’s such a busy area, that if moving furniture added to the noise level, it could disrupt classroom activity on the floors above.”

Since opening in August of 2002, Aderhold has hosted thousands of students. GSU spokesperson Chris Hughes is thrilled with the landmark building’s look and performance. “We expect the exterior structure to last for 60-plus years, the roof to last for 20, and for the floors to last at least 10 years. The way these floors are holding up, we’re getting optimistic about extending our life cycle expectations”.