Gresham Smith Celebrates Grand Opening of Water Tower Global Innovation Hub

55,000-Square-Foot Facility Will Support Research that Advances Water Industry

Gresham Smith celebrated the completion of The Water Tower Global Innovation Hub in Gwinnett County, Georgia during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, March 30. Named after the County’s iconic water towers that once lived along I-85, the innovation campus brings together utilities, technology providers, educational institutions and other industry partners to create a thriving ecosystem of water innovation fueled by imagination, informed by research and powered by pioneers.

Gresham Smith provided architecture, engineering, interior design, commissioning and construction management services for the project, which encompasses a 55,000-square-foot, three-story building with office and collaboration spaces, classroom and meeting spaces and a large multi-purpose space, as well as multiple laboratories for studies, experiments and tests. The firm also designed a conveyance network, which brings various process streams from F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center (WRC) to support bench-scale and pilot-scale studies.

“It has been an amazing journey and partnership with Gresham Smith, from initial storyboarding, through design, to the completion of this awesome building. I couldn’t be more proud of how we brought this dream to life and am thrilled to finally open the doors and launch our programming,” said Melissa Meeker, chief executive officer of The Water Tower.

“Gresham Smith combined our expertise from both horizontal and vertical markets to bring this one-of-a-kind project to life,” commented Alexander Sharp, P.E., project manager at Gresham Smith. “Gwinnett County’s historic water towers were icons of innovation and ambition, and The Water Tower embodies that spirit again by leveraging the cutting-edge treatment systems at F. Wayne Hill WRC to advance water treatment technologies and spur economic growth.”

The campus’ site is designed to sustainably manage stormwater by reducing infiltration to improve water quality and features a boardwalk over a semi-aquatic planting area, an amphitheater and bioretention ponds. Brick and stone on the building’s exterior reflect Georgia’s natural environment, while expanses of glass and perforated metal panels represent the forward-thinking, technological innovation happening inside.

Inside, the main lobby, which doubles as a pre-function space, features large supergraphics, an enclosed monumental stair, and a window into the experimental lab. In addition to the experimental lab, the facility also houses an analytical lab and a microbiology lab, which feature both fixed and moveable workspaces to provide flexibility for visiting researchers and County staff conducting experiments related to water and wastewater treatment technology. Smart classrooms, as well as a multipurpose space for conferences, training and large group presentations that holds up to 120 occupants, are also located on the first floor.

Featuring views to the surrounding campus site, the second-floor administration suite includes an open-office coworking suite with conference rooms, collaborative areas and huddle rooms. A shared hub provides a break area for County staff as well as employees working for the water-related business tenants leasing third-floor office space.

Adjacent to the building, a demonstration bay area provides outdoor space where researchers and vendors can evaluate their systems and perform applied research using pilot systems fed by the process flows from the F. Wayne Hill WRC.

In addition to work on The Water Tower, Gresham Smith also currently provides on-call engineering services for the F. Wayne Hill WRC and other Gwinnett County water infrastructure projects. F. Wayne Hill WRC is one of the most technologically advanced treatment facilities in the country, returning treated water to Lake Lanier, which is Metro Atlanta’s most vital drinking water source.