W&A Engineering Receives 51st Annual Athens Preservation Award for Outstanding Rehabilitation

Historic Athens recently announced this year’s preservation award winners live from Historic Hot Corner. W&A Engineering is thrilled to be the recipient of the Historic Athens 51st Annual Preservation Award for Outstanding Rehabilitation for our firm’s newly renovated headquarters located in the early-twentieth century Southern Mill complex adjacent to the historic Boulevard neighborhood.

The Outstanding Rehabilitation award category honors excellence in the wholesale rehabilitation of a structure. Rehabilitation is defined as the act of returning a dilapidated, neglected, and/or damaged property to a state of utility through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient, contemporary use while preserving those portions or features that are significant to its historical, architectural and cultural integrity. Whenever possible, projects should comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. The new headquarters, located at 355 Oneta Street, is part of a 100-year-old textile mill, and previous home to Wilkins Industries, the largest manufacturer of stone-washed jeans in the 70s and 80s. After decades of vacancy, the property grew increasingly dilapidated. In 2012 Historic Athens (then the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation) held a day-long symposium to bring attention to the adaptive reuse potential of the property and available tax incentives. Local development company, Millworks Development, took an interest and in 2015, began the process to acquire the property and work on plans. Today the ongoing redevelopment is a joint venture of Millworks Development and IDP Properties. Besides W&A Engineering, Southern Mills is home to the production facility for Creature Comforts Brewing Company, which also features plenty of unique office spaces, labs, and equipment. According to project developers the majority of the remaining space will mostly be used as creative Class A office space. 

The staff at W&A has been very excited about the move to the new office space. When W&A began to outgrow its previous headquarters, located off Daniells Bridge Road, staff were surveyed to determine what was most important to them in planning for a new office. A common theme throughout the company was finding a historic property to renovate and incorporating energy efficiency features.  Since opening in December 2019, the new office space has received recognition for historic preservation achievement as well as incorporation of sustainability features which include solar installation with 45-50% energy offset and an EarthCraft Light Commercial (ECLC) FitOut certification, a green building certification developed by Southface Institute. 

In celebration of the 51st Annual Preservation Awards, local architect and past Historic Athens Preservation Award winner, David Matheny, will take a behind the scene look at this year’s winning projects and interact with the people behind the projects. Interviews are being held all week via interactive live casts. David will be interviewing architects, designers, engineers, historians, business owners, and community leaders on their efforts to preserve the built environment and historical legacy of Athens each weeknight beginning at 6PM. The community is invited to share comments, questions, and thoughts for an opportunity to engage in the conversations!

Save the date for this Friday, June 26th at 6PM to join W&A Engineering for a Facebook Live interview with David Matheny at www.facebook.com/historicathens to learn more about our journey in the Southern Mill.

You can also visit www.historicathens.com/preservationawards to learn more about this year’s awards.