Destination: Atlanta

The tower and complex are on Circle 75 Parkway near where interstates 285 and 75 meet.

thyssenkrupp announces Elevator Americas Complex, its new Americas headquarters that will include the tallest test tower in the U.S.

Images courtesy of thyssenkrupp

When thyssenkrupp announced in spring 2016 it would install its first TWIN elevator system in North America in the 21-story Coda building in Technology Square in Atlanta (ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2016), it could have been interpreted as a faint murmur of more to come. A little more than two years later, the murmur became distinct as sources began reporting on a deal between the Development Authority of Cobb County (DACC) and thyssenkrupp in which DACC would issue up to US$264 million in bonds for the industrial giant to build an R&D center and offices near The Battery and SunTrust Park, home of the National Baseball League’s Atlanta Braves. It was clearly big news, with more than 860 new jobs with an average wage of about US$100,000.[1]

On July 26, that news got even bigger, particularly for those in the vertical- transportation industry, when thyssenkrupp Elevator CEO Andreas Schierenbeck joined thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas CEO Rich Hussey at the future site (approximately 13 mi. north of downtown Atlanta in Cobb County) to describe the company’s plans for what will be known as the thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas Innovation Complex. Perhaps most notable (and kept largely under wraps until the big announcement day): a 128-m-tall tower that will be used to test MULTI, the ropeless, sideways- moving elevator technology, and TWIN, which features two cabins in one shaft.

Housing 18 shafts, the tower was designed by Gensler to resemble a traditional skyscraper and is the third such thyssenkrupp test tower; the first two are in Rottweil, Germany, (EW, September 2017) (246 m) and China (248 m). Even though it is roughly half the height of its fellow towers, the Atlanta tower will be the tallest of its kind in the U.S., and among the tallest elevator test towers in the world. “Within our network of spectacular, high-speed test towers in Germany and China, the new facility in Atlanta will be the third laboratory for futuristic technologies,” Schierenbeck said. At the top, it will have event space overlooking the baseball stadium, rather than a traditional observation deck like in Rottweil.

Mike Plant, president and CEO of the Atlanta Braves Development Co., with which thyssenkrupp worked closely on the deal and which owns the 4.3 acres on which the tower and buildings will sit, said the tower “will reshape the Atlanta skyline and be a point of pride for our region.” Comparable in height to the 29-story Tower Place 100 building in Buckhead, Atlanta, it will be the tallest structure in Cobb County and provide a fresh injection of energy into the county’s robust “vertical-growth spurt.”[2]

A flyover video produced for thyssenkrupp shows the tower’s and office buildings’ proximity to SunTrust Park. Hussey told EW more than 800 employees will be transferring from different parts of the country to the complex, which includes a new, midrise 155,000-sq.-ft. corporate headquarters building and an existing 100,000-sq.-ft. business building that will be outfitted to fit thyssenkrupp’s needs.

Hussey, who is based just outside of Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia, said he envisions the move happening in two phases: first will be what he calls thyssenkrupp Americas’ “shared services functions,” which includes departments such as Finance, Accounting and Procurement. Employees in those departments will move into the existing, retrofitted building starting in 2019.

Hussey continued:

“Longer term, we’ll bring in more of our engineering department, U.S. executive team and marketing/communications group. When who moves will depend slightly on each department and when the buildings are completed, but the majority will move in in 2021 or early 2022. Some, of course, could move earlier to get set up and established in their new city. We’re doing everything possible to bring everyone involved along on our journey but, realistically, we know all our employees won’t be willing to relocate. For those positions, we’ll be recruiting the best talent possible.”

Atlanta’s wealth of young talent from universities like Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University was a major reason thyssenkrupp selected it over contenders on the east and west coasts, Hussey said. This plethora of young talent promises to make the company an industrial powerhouse and engine in Atlanta for decades to come, he said.

Schierenbeck shared with EW that the decision-making process began approximately two years ago, and thyssenkrupp found what it was looking for in Atlanta also thanks to its:

  • Vibrant economy
  • Proximity to highways and a major international airport
  • Reputation as a hotbed for innovation
  • Close-knit neighborhoods and good schools
  • World-class restaurants and retail.

Hussey elaborated:

“We were looking for a city that is easy to reach from other parts of North America and the world. This is going to be a destination for our employees, customers and business partners. Atlanta will be great for retaining and attracting talent because it’s a real live-work-play environment. This location will really help lay the groundwork for the strong future of our organization.”

The Federal Aviation Administration had been expected to grant the tower final approval in August. No doubt, the area is already bracing for and excited about the economic ripple effect to come: Hundreds of employees will be hired to build the complex. Then, there’s the homes for full-time employees — from laborer to top-level executive — that need to be sold; children who need to be educated; and stores and services to address their needs. The complex’s proximity to SunTrust baseball stadium will not only be a bonus for baseball fans, but will provide the thyssenkrupp test tower and Innovation Complex with visibility that is unmatched in the elevator community.

Patrick Bass, who is thyssenkrupp North America CEO, could have easily been speaking about the Elevator Americas Complex when he said in 2016 that Midtown Atlanta’s Technology Square “is changing the landscape of Atlanta.” Now, it is thyssenkrupp itself that is reshaping the Atlanta landscape, both literally and figuratively.

Schierenbeck shared: “This is a great, US$240-million investment that will create new jobs and technological innovations. We really believe in this market, and we’re very excited,” adding, when asked if he and Hussey are Atlanta Braves fans, “We will be!”

[1] Eric Mandel. “German Elevator Business Could Bring Hundreds of
Six-Figure Jobs Near The Battery,” Atlanta Business Chronicle, June 19, 2018.
[2] Sean Keenan. “Renderings: 420-Foot Elevator Testing Tower to Become Cobb County’s Tallest,” Curbed Atlanta, June 27, 2018.

Elevator World Associate Editor

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