Tennessee Electric Vehicle Center

Ford, our oldest client and one of America’s top electric vehicle brands, recently awarded SSOE the design of a new assembly plant—named the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Center, part of Ford’s BlueOval City manufacturing complex—which resides on the West Tennessee Regional Megasite. This exciting new complex will become a vertically integrated ecosystem where Ford will assemble its next electric truck and batteries for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

Together with Walbridge as our construction partner, we’re executing the project under a design / build contract. In addition to the 4 million SF building design, we’ve been chosen as the engineer of record for the entire site design of the 4,000-acre mega campus. Our full scope of work includes preconstruction documents and detailed engineering as well as construction administration. Our team used the most innovative technology available to provide regular updates throughout the design process, with major deliverables scheduled out in advance for reviews and contractor use.

At its peak, SSOE assembled a dedicated team of more than 60 full-time employees to support the detailed design phase of the project. A project win for SSOE in several ways, this complex will also significantly support electric vehicle production in the Southeast U.S. and create close to 6,000 new jobs in Tennessee. Groundbreaking took place in May 2022 and Ford plans to begin production at BlueOval City in 2025.

On-Site and Full Circle
Our work on the West Tennessee Regional Megasite—formerly known as the Memphis Regional Megasite—actually dates back to 2007. SSOE worked with the State of Tennessee to develop the site and provided ongoing support as potential clients evaluated it. We were also involved with water and wastewater infrastructure projects specific to the site for over a decade. Worthy of note, SSOE provided the civil design of Ford’s BlueOval roundabout, an idea we presented to the client that makes Ford’s signature emblem shape—originally used to advertise Ford as the “hallmark for reliability and economy”—visible from the air.

Avondale Estates Town Green Park & Commercial Center

Avondale Estate’s downtown reflects its endearing 1920s Tudor Village and a mixture of commercial and residential development. In 2017, 3,500 residents held a ‘Call for Ideas’ on developing four underutilized city-owned acres, creating a heart for the downtown area and a catalyst for economic growth. SSOE provided a concept plan for a destination park with adjacent commercial development. Two two-story mixed-use buildings overlook a two-acre park designed with active and passive uses for city events, festivals, and concerts. At the site’s highest elevation, a grand terrace has outdoor dining and prime seating for events, with a sweeping view of the park. An existing road bisecting the site becomes a pedestrian-only path that, along with new pathways, increases pedestrian and district connectivity.

SSOE provided architecture and engineering services for the park portion of the project as part of the developer-led team selected by the city. After a robust public involvement process, the team-established critical goals for the project – a flexible central gathering space with an identity that is unique. SSOE coordinated the work of all disciplines: landscape architecture, civil, lighting design, structural, and electrical engineering.

SSOE designed the Performance Pavilion, which has a stage fronting the Performance Green, covered seating facing a playground, and a decorative brick enclosure screening existing utility duct banks that are too expensive to relocate. In addition, SSOE designed the Market Pavilion, an open-air structure for events, food trucks, and farmer’s markets. Both buildings feature glulam arches that nod toward the Tudor architecture. Brick details match the Arts and Crafts style found throughout Avondale. Curved roofs and walls of the Performance Pavilion are in harmony with the winding site design.

Lithium-Ion Battery Manufacturing Campus

When Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., a Panasonic Group company, sought to build its first standalone lithium-ion battery production facility in the U.S., they knew they needed a partner with cleanroom, battery, and manufacturing experience. With SSOE’s reputation as an industry leader in the design of battery manufacturing facilities, greenfield site development expertise, and experience working with Panasonic on previous projects, they knew we could deliver their vision. SSOE was selected to provide primary engineering design and architectural design oversight.

SSOE’s involvement began at the earliest stage of the project when the firm became engaged in site evaluation efforts with Panasonic’s site selection team. We pulled together a team of architects and engineers to guide Panasonic through defining and ranking site criteria, assisting in the evaluation of multiple campus locations. In July 2022, Panasonic ultimately landed on Astra Enterprise Park (formerly the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant), originally constructed in World War II and vacant for a quarter of a century—with 300 acres and hundreds of millions of dollars in incentive packages to go with it. A win for Kansas, this is the first economic development project exceeding a billion dollars for the state and will make the location a key economic driver for the region.

In parallel with site evaluation efforts, SSOE worked with Panasonic to generate a preliminary Basis of Design with enough detail to allow the construction manager to forecast a construction estimate in a post-COVID market. From there, we’ve continued to lead the project through the preliminary design phase. To mitigate labor market and supply chain challenges, the cutting-edge nature of lithium-ion battery manufacturing requires our design team to adapt to process and usage changes driven by Panasonic’s refinement to their battery technology. SSOE continues to suggest solutions that are adaptable to future process refinements.

Designing a facility that aligns with Panasonic’s employee-centric culture is to be top of mind. The site plan limits interaction between vehicles and pedestrians through a thoughtfully designed parking layout, one-way traffic, separate truck entrance, and site-specific traffic study. Architectural design is still in progress but promises the intelligent integration of the production process into the building design and spaces throughout to specifically support employees. The U-shaped design of the production facility will frame various support structures and utility buildings that will reside behind it. The fact that Panasonic and SSOE’s cultures naturally align has streamlined the ability to communicate and deliver what they’re looking for in this facility.

With a nearly 100-year history of innovation in batteries spanning both battery cell technology and battery business operations, Panasonic continues to strengthen its lineup of automotive lithium-ion batteries and expand its production capacity. The De Soto facility, the company’s first standalone EV battery facility in the U.S., will help do just that. The Japanese-based company’s expansion in Kansas is expected to bring in a projected $2.5 billion in yearly economic activity to make it the largest economic development undertaking in the state’s history. It will also allow Panasonic to ramp up production to meet surging demand and lead the evolution of the EV industry in the U.S.

Due to the complexity of the design and size of the facility, the City of De Soto will approve its development plan one phase at a time. Panasonic broke ground on the new plant in November 2022, with production slated to begin in 2025.

Skilled Trades Training Center

SSOE was selected to provide architectural and engineering design services for the new Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center located in Detroit.

The new facility is used to provide instruction to Detroit area carpenter and millwright apprentices and journeymen, and is able to train 150 – 200 students at a time. The facility houses the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters offices and Local Union Representative offices. The project was completed in 2022.

The training center is a two-story building with steel frame and metal panel envelope for the training areas and showcases materials and finishes performed by the carpenters and millwrights in the main entry and public areas. This new 130,000 SF (approximately) facility consists of mixed use space including office and administration areas, a multi-purpose room for career and vendor fairs (7,000 SF), classrooms for instructional use, two high bay work areas for hands-on learning (50,000 SF and 10,000 SF), welding lab (with self-contained filtration / ventilation system), bridge crane, council area / offices, (approximately 14,000 SF), and building support areas.

EV Battery Materials Manufacturing Facility

Having started our relationship with Ascend Elements by providing site and facility evaluations (followed up by full architecture, EPC, and commissioning) for their brownfield lithium-ion battery recycling facility, SSOE continues to be a trusted project delivery partner.

While working on their first production facility together, Ascend Elements engaged SSOE to support the evaluation of two potential sites for their new greenfield megasite. SSOE performed research and provided site layout plans for each potential location.

SSOE is now working closely with Ascend Elements in the front-end loading (FEL) phase to develop a site layout to include process, packaging, warehousing, and office buildings, as well as the preliminary project schedule and execution plan. Our comprehensive multi-disciplinary A/E team for this planning and design phase includes architectural, civil, structural, process, mechanical (HVAC / plumbing), piping, electrical, instrumentation and controls, and estimating.

During this phase, we also coordinated with Ascend Elements and their process technology provider, to develop an efficient overall process design while also evaluating opportunities for engineering alternatives to drive value into their project. Working with a foreign OEM / technology provider, it was integral for SSOE to carefully evaluate the equipment and equipment design specifications to ensure compliance with all U.S. codes and standards. This entailed establishing standing coordination meetings, as well as around-the-clock BIM / CAD coordination.

SSOE was able to provide creative solutions in response to global supply chain shortages, which could ultimately impact the fast-track schedule. One solution was to utilize refurbished equipment to start up one production line while the remainder of the facility was under construction.

Positioned on 140+ acres, their multi-building campus will produce precursor (pCAM) and sustainable cathode active materials (CAM) to equip up to 250,000 EVs a year. A fairly young company, it’s important to Ascend Elements to work with a firm that has the resources to deliver a project of this magnitude and the agility to pivot project execution throughout a fast-track schedule as the company dynamic continues to develop and change. According to the client, SSOE has done well adapting to many fast-moving changes while driving the project schedule.

SSOE received Autodesk’s Design & Make AEC Best Construction Project Award for our design of Ascend Elements’ EV battery materials manufacturing facility in 2023 based on our approach to construction and the dramatic, positive results that were applied.

David T. Howard Middle School

SSOE completed the redesign and historic rehabilitation of the empty David T. Howard School, once attended by notable African American luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., into a modern middle school in the heart of Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.

The $52 million project, which began in early 2017, includes an administrative wing based on an originally designed element that was never built, a four-level classroom addition, media center, auditorium, music wing, and kitchen and cafeteria.

The design team’s approach focused on the existing plan diagram to ensure the building’s historic features were maintained. The new addition connects to the existing building with elements that keep the existing building’s brick visible and joins all the building’s components.

The school is a four-story concrete frame building with brick cladding. The floor plan is a simple “U” shape with corridors connecting the classroom wings. The main entrances along the bottom of the “U” are also identified by decorative brick and stone details. The existing classroom building reflects the original layout as much as possible, and the new classroom wing consists of core, science, and music classrooms; the kitchen and cafeteria; and an auditorium.

SSOE designed a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) HVAC system with 100% outdoor air for the classroom portions of the building, including the historic building. The VRF system allowed the design team to minimize ductwork in the classrooms and maintain the existing high ceilings in the historic classrooms and corridors. Because the VRF outdoor units weigh less than conventional systems, the design team was able to minimize structural modifications to the historic building, saving cost and time. The areas served by VRF are paired with packaged roof top dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) with energy recovery. The new DOAS and VRF HVAC systems designed for the project will save energy over the years to come and contribute to an optimal indoor environmental quality for the students and staff and give each space served the ability to control space environmental conditions.

Kimpton Sylvan Hotel

Originally built in the early 1950s by Atlanta architect James C. Wise, the post-war efficiency apartment building has been restored to its previous mid-century modern style after previous renovations converted the building into senior housing and condominium units. Located near Buckhead Village, the SSOE | Stevens & Wilkinson design team transformed the condominium units into a 216-key hotel that now features a restaurant and bar, courtyard dining, a private pool, and a rooftop lounge.

As part of this historic renovation, the original corridors and circulation cores were maintained, and the 216 guestrooms were configured to closely align with the footprint of the initial 1950’s apartments. The existing single-pane aluminum windows were refurbished, and large openings in the brick façade that had been cut-in for HVAC units were carefully toothed back. The entire exterior received a fresh coat of white paint, with light gray accentuating the horizontal elements of concrete brows and sills that trim the windows. At the rooftop, the previous deck was expanded by converting an abandoned mechanical penthouse into a colorful bar venue with roll-up doors and sweeping views of the Buckhead neighborhood.

The preservation of expansive landscaped areas, dining patios, and secret gardens surround the property, each with substantial hundred-year oak and magnolia trees providing canopy above. The seclusion offers a respite from the bustle of Buckhead, yet the property still engages with the urban fabric through the addition of two grand stairs connecting the sidewalk to the south entrance, which is under an existing concrete canopy. A restaurant occupies the same space as one did through the 1970s, with a new romantic dining patio overlooking East Paces Ferry.

The new porte-cochere on the east façade protects hotel guests’ arrival with a prominent steel and polycarbonate canopy inspired by angled canopies of the mid-century modern era. Guests enter through the original vestibule with new stained-glass windows and are met with an inviting living room area featuring a fireplace and views into the courtyard bar. That “secret garden” provides covered dining beneath a steel canopy and pergola, or intimate seating arrangements interspersed throughout the winding landscape paths.

The Kimpton Sylvan Hotel is an award-winning project for adaptive reuse and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Battery Cell Production Facility

SSOE was selected as the A/E services provider for KORE Power’s greenfield battery cell production facility, KOREPlex. KORE Power is the leading U.S.-based developer of battery cell technology for the energy storage and electric transportation industries. The design / build team, comprised of KORE Power, Yates Construction, and SSOE, began design in late 2021 with an 18-month build, beginning construction mid-2022.

Some of the advanced manufacturing attributes of KOREPlex will include fully automated cell assembly lines, automated material movement and handling, an automated packaging line, and a pandemic-ready design to allow for safe workspaces. KOREPlex will operate with netzero carbon emissions through strategic partnerships and solar -plus- and storage cogeneration. The facility’s many cleanrooms are designed to provide ISO Class 6 and 7 cleanliness while maintaining very low humidity requirements throughout the space, some targeting a temperature / humidity setpoint within the -45°C dew point range. The design uses dedicated desiccant chilled water dehumidification units to dry the air, while also providing space-level cooling. The rooms also utilize fan filter units to allow for HEPA-level filtration and overall cleanroom pressurization requirements.

The design of the KOREPlex facility provides SSOE with an opportunity for our team to draw upon our unique expertise in the battery manufacturing sector—combining our understanding of large-scale manufacturing facilities with a technical mastery of controlled environments and process engineering.

The KOREPlex facility will support up to 12 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cell production, producing nearly 60 million battery cells annually. This new facility supports a reliable and independent U.S. supply chain for lithium-ion battery cells, which is critical to the future of electric vehicles, power grids, and more. The facility will have the production capacity provide power for 3.2 million homes per year.

Nathan Deal Judicial Center

New Home of Georgia’s Judicial Branch

The State of Georgia’s Nathan Deal Judicial Center is the first state-building in the history of Georgia devoted entirely to the judiciary. The seven-story, 224,500 SF facility houses the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the newly created state-wide Business Court. This significant facility was designed to complement the State Capitol Building (Edbrooke and Burnham built circa 1889) and expand the Capitol Hill District across from Capitol Avenue. SSOE partnered with Robert A.M. Stern Architects to design a facility in the classical architectural approach that symbolizes the dignity of the courts from the beginnings of the republic.

State Leadership

The placement and orientation of the building is directly on axis with the dome of the State Capitol Building and the curved façade responds to the prominent Capital Avenue, Memorial Drive, and 1-20, I-75 / 85 intersections. Like the Capitol’s Legislative Chamber, the building features a central atrium that is elliptical, 112-feet in height, and connects six floors. The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Courtrooms open onto the atrium that also provides stunning views of Capitol Hill and Downtown Atlanta and beyond.

SSOE worked in partnership with the courts, the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission (GSFIC), the Georgia Building Authority, and the Georgia State Properties Office from programming and planning, site selection, design, and construction over 10 years to complete this historic commission. Employing energy-efficient HVAC systems, LED lighting, water-saving devices, and Georgia-sourced materials including granite and marble, the facility is one of few in Georgia to achieve a three out of four Peaches in the Georgia Peach Green Building Rating System.

“This is a magnificent architectural achievement that should evoke pride in the entire state … it embodies the ideals of our courts, as well as Governor [Nathan] Deal’s deeply personal commitment to criminal justice reform and to this great state.”

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court, at Nathan Deal Judicial Center Dedication Ceremony

Design for Process Equipment Installation Ramp

Through innovative design concepts, benchmarking common practices, and scheduling, SSOE has saved the client more than $7.3 million to date.

Nimble and resourceful, SSOE quickly increased personnel for a critical tool installation design project when a semiconductor client accelerated release of a new technology. This project, part of an ongoing program for the client, included the installation of 250 tools over the course of a year.

Initially, the project required all design work to be performed in Oregon. However, due to the quick ramp up needed on this project, the client determined that design work could be completed remotely. SSOE quickly responded, engaging tool installation design teams in New Mexico and Arizona to support the Oregon team. In addition—for the first time in SSOE’s tool installation design program history—SSOE’s Mumbai, India, and Leon, Mexico, teams were engaged to provide critical support to meet project demands. Getting these international team members on board allowed for greater agility and flexibility on this project. In addition, it allows for a trained workforce to be available on short notice for burst capacity as well as subsequent easing off the project as workload diminishes. This approach keeps SSOE’s project budgets and schedules healthy and, in turn, enables our clients to get their products to market on-time to meet demand at a competitive price point.

In addition to providing a high level of service on this project, SSOE implemented a number of efficiencies that have saved the client more than $7.3 million to date. A utilization-based resource staffing model and a workshare agreement form, as well as innovative design concepts, have all contributed to these significant project savings.

Pet Food Production Capacity Expansion Lines 1 and 2

The scope of this project involved the conversion of an existing 500,000 SF pet food facility from a textile manufacturing facility to a wet pet food facility and distribution warehouse. The site, idle for nearly a decade, required extensive refurbishment, site improvements, and building modifications to make it ready for the new processes. The project included site development, construction, design, equipment procurement, installation, and start-up of two canning lines.

The initial project phase included the civil site design, with additional parking, new roadways, laydown areas for construction, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP); lighting, and a completely new medium voltage site electrical distribution system. Interior work included the definition and design of new rooms, new floor slab, industrial waste drain system, design and specification of new utilities (HVAC, boilers, compressed air, bio-filter odor control, and others), process and packaging design, and overall modeling / BIM/VDC.

Due to the complexity of the project and condensed schedule, multiple entities were engaged across a wide variety of tasks, requiring a high level of collaboration. For example, separate design / build efforts were needed for the freezer, empty can building, compactor area, wastewater treatment, and employee center. Coordination was also extensive between the multiple layers of the client’s project management and engineering disciplines. Lastly there were multiple vendor supplied “modules” (dries, meat bins, gravy, and packaging), which were integrated into the design and installation.

EPCM Services for Greenfield
Plant of the Future

To support their North American growth in the production of automotive electronic components, Continental AG chose an EPCM approach to deliver a modern, world-class greenfield facility in central Mexico. Due to our deep understanding of what is currently driving Continental’s business, knowledge of their various facilities, ability to successfully partner on large-scale projects, and proximity to the site, SSOE was selected to serve as designer, construction manager, and owner’s agent on the project located in FINSA Industrial Park.

The expert design team we assembled utilized SSOE’s Revit-based platform to create a complex 3D model that was used for weekly review meetings, and can be further utilized by the client’s maintenance staff to make future updates and repairs. Our León office led the planning and design of this project, while SSOE’s U.S. staff supported the Mexico team with specific expertise, showing again how SSOE’s culture of collaboration has no boundaries. During the design phase, the team suggested design enhancements to achieve Continental’s desired vision for the new facility—suggestions were incorporated with no impact to the original schedule.

Building areas on the 122,000 sq meters site totaled 24,250 sq. meters and consisted of a single-story manufacturing facility and adjacent 2-story office, staff area, and cafeteria. The project also included infrastructure lines on-site, internal roads, parking lots, bus drop-off and truck waiting areas, as well as median connections to the park road at the boundary of the property. Design was complete within the aggressive 5-month schedule proposed by the client and construction began in July, 2019.

One challenge involved the design of the production area, which required very rigid specifications that included an ISO 7 cleanroom classification, Electrostatic Dissipative (ESD) flooring, and electronic conditions. Our team collaborated closely with the client, headquartered in Germany, despite the 7-hour time difference. Our León team’s significant experience in the Mexican construction industry sector, in-depth knowledge of Mexican specifications and codes, and ability to obtain a temporary certificate of occupancy right on schedule helped keep the project moving.

From the start, LEED compliance was important to the client and our experience completing more than $1 billion in LEED-certified facilities and vast network of LEED Accredited Professionals helped us formulate a design strategy that conformed to the client’s sustainability needs and expectations. This included an energy-efficient building shape and innovative solutions in building technologies.

Continental’s “plant of the future” is started producing various new technologies such as smart antenna modules, lighting and door control units, and more beginning in 2021, which generated an estimated 1,000+ jobs over five years.

Delta Air Lines Lobby
and Woolman Café Renovation

SSOE worked with Delta Air Lines on the renovations to its administrative headquarters lobby and café.

Enhancing Delta’s Brand & Image

Creating an exciting and inspiring first impression for visitors, a space for employees to recharge, and a place to celebrate the heritage of a great company were several goals of the lobby and Woolman Café renovation project. The project supports Delta Air Lines in employee recruitment and retention while drastically enhancing its brand and image. By incorporating natural lighting, furniture selection, finishes and materials, artwork, lighting, and graphics, the newly renovated lobby / café spaces accommodate five services brands, doubled the seating capacity, and demonstrates Delta’s story in a sophisticated and progressive design.

New Hub of Collaboration

The lobby and café work together to create a new employee hub for collaboration, technology, and mobility as well as access to employee amenities including a clinic, fitness center, pharmacy, meeting rooms, and central elevator core for the building. While the lobby addressed Delta’s story, heritage, and visitor reception, the café’s vision is a positive influence on all who encounter the Delta community. The design is fresh, lively, honest, and unexpectedly fun.

Thoughtful & Energized Environment

Converting the existing spaces into this thoughtful, energized environment was no easy task requiring coordination with existing building infrastructure, systems, kitchens, elevators, life safety stairs, and exits. Opening existing exterior walls with large clear windows provides views to the organization’s bustling corporate campus.