The 26-story, 750,000 square foot Ally Charlotte Center is the first building in Charlotte, North Carolina to be completed with a long-span, high-load polycarbonate glazing panel system. The mixed-use, high-efficiency office tower was completed in May, 2021, overlooking the city’s Stonewall Corridor and serving as a modern gateway to the Uptown district.
Following four years of development and construction, the project earns its place as a new landmark. With respect to its footprint, the project is pursuing certification through both the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED program and the International WELL Building Institute.
Designed by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, the building's illuminated, branded crown was created by Extech Exterior Technologies, Inc. Extech custom-engineered the system, which they market under the name Skyshade 8000.
Multi-use with goal of greater productivity, efficiency
As general contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie oversaw demolition of the former auto repair shop and construction of the core and shell of the building, as well as the interior build-out for Ally Financial. Conveniently located near Interstate 277 and the LYNX light rail, it offers a centralized, collaborative, open-plan work environment. Through a phased move-in process, nearly 2,100 Ally Financial employees will come together from across the city to occupy 400,000 square feet on 23 floors of the tower.
The building's developer, Crescent Communities, and other commercial tenants lease the remaining office floorspace with shared access to the 1,400-space parking garage. A ground-level 12,000-square-foot public plaza, surrounded by 30,000-square-feet of shops and restaurants, s the development.
The tower's design and construction ensure high levels of digital connectivity and an emphasis on health and wellness in the workplace. Ally Charlotte Center is WIRED Certified Platinum, the highest level possible and the first Platinum Wired certification in Charlotte. The building also is designed and built to achieve, at minimum, LEED Silver for both core and shell, and for commercial interiors. It also is seeking WELL certification for both the building and for the Crescent Communities 8th floor office.
Large surface area required reinforcement against wind sheer and weight of snow
For Ally Charlotte Center, Extech’s Skyshade system opal-hued polycarbonate panels produce a lantern effect. Extech engineered the system with custom outriggers, anchors, and pins to display the large Ally logo on the Northwest and Southeast elevations.
Maintaining the intended aesthetic required a high-performance system. The 25-foot panels are rigidly framed in metal with supporting, vertical, tubular mullions behind the screen wall. The assemblies were tested for structural performance according to ASTM E 330. The structure was tested for impact resistance and is rated Class A for flame spread and smoke generation. The panels also feature a UV-resistant finish. The system is specially designed to accommodate thermal movement and for high wind and snow loading.
“Wind was a big factor on the top of the skyscraper,” said Jim Leslie, Extech’s general manager.
Panel system designed to blend form and mechanical function
Enhancing the building's clean, sophisticated look, the polycarbonate panel system also has a practical function; it conceals the rooftop mechanical equipment and lights. Extech installed the panels seven feet from the building's exterior edge allowing a walkway for maintenance and repairs. Extech also engineered doors into its system to facilitate safe access.
Throughout their design life, the polycarbonate and metal assemblies require minimal cleaning, according to Extech, and the panels are designed to be easily replaceable. The system's longevity, low maintenance, recycled and low-VOC content, and recyclable materials also contribute to the project's sustainability goals, Extech said in a release about the Ally Charlotte Center.
Design with blending into existing cityscape in mind
From its branded roof to its street-level plaza, Ally Charlotte Center is set back from the corner of Tryon and Stonewall Streets. This shift in the building line away from the street edge creates a space for outdoor dining, retail, plaza, and seating areas. A mature live oak tree, relocated from Johns Island, South Carolina, and an allée of 14 ginkgo trees anchor the corner.
“We've had an unwavering vision about the type of commercial community such a location merited,” said Brian Leary, former CEO Crescent Communities. Now retired, he announced the planned project as “for the ideal corporate tenant who'd appreciate a talent-centered and wellness-focused workplace, conceived from the inside-out with each design decision made in support of creating an environment wholly supportive of a talented and diverse workforce.”
Leary added, “We believe an office tower is more than steel and glass and are honored to be delivering on this for such a community-oriented organization such as Ally.”