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Photos: Touring the Atlanta Beltline’s first brand-new office building

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With its rooftop vistas and top-shelf café, The Willoughby is a millennial-friendly hub in Old Fourth Ward

The Willoughby’s open-air rooftop workspaces and lounge.
The Willoughby’s open-air rooftop workspaces and lounge.

Down the street from the clatter of Historic Fourth Ward Park skateboards, the offices of Dagger smell of fresh white oak. The simplified aesthetic leans Danish and Japanese. And a rotation of four different office dogs lends a stress-reducing, non-corporate touch.

Described by leaders as Atlanta’s fastest-growing ad agency, Dagger prides itself on being contemporary in every way, the antithesis of cheap ties and cubicles. That includes the location of its new permanent home—The Willoughby, heralded as the first purpose-built office building spurred by the Atlanta Beltline—and how its 40 employees get to work.

“A lot of the employee base has jettisoned driving,” says CEO Mike Popowski, “because there’s a lot of creative talent that lives with access to the Beltline, so they walk and bike.”

That was the intent of The Willoughby all along.

Down the street from Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, this is the building’s frontage on Willoughby Way.

Counting 60,000 square feet, the five-story Old Fourth Ward structure (rooftop included) has private restrooms with showers on every floor to accommodate sweaty urban trekkers. Combined with Gigabyte/Fiber connectivity, a 3,800-square-foot rooftop amenity deck with a kitchen, and a communal café described by Dagger spokesman Ben Mitchell as “one of the nicer coffee shops in Atlanta,” The Willoughby should qualify as a beacon for millennial workers.

Mitchell recently led a tour of the project by Tecton and Cross-Town Realty, which began welcoming its first tenants last month, nearly four years after it had been announced. Dagger, which has leased half of the second floor in addition to its ground-level space in anticipation of growth, joins mobile innovation agency Dragon Army, mobile dev shop Stable+Kernel, and the largest lessee thus far, Blue Sombrero, Dick’s Sporting Goods Youth Sports division.

Other facets include a stage area near the café for panel discussions and a lounging nook with an Eames chair. But panoramic vistas upstairs have been the marquee draw thus far, with the neighboring Eastside Trail a close second.

“We really encourage walk-and-talk meetings, getting out on the Beltline,” says Dragon Army spokeswoman Jessica Carruth. “[But] the rooftop’s definitely what everyone’s most excited about. Even in this crazy heat of summer, it’s not bad up there.”

Have a look around:

Walls are dotted with large depictions of local street scenes.
A conference room, with sidewalk life a pane of glass away. First-floor spaces were designed by Flags of Origin founder Joshua Charles, whose portfolio includes Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall, Bocado Burger, and Grindhouse Decatur.
The building’s shared cafe includes a neon sign, refurbished and imported from a Texas establishment by Flags of Origin, handmade tables by an Asheville craftsman, and custom lighting made in New York, with other lights sourced from an old London train station. Metal cabinets were imported from Turkey.
The darker aesthetic of Dragon Army’s office neighbors the whiter simplicity of Dagger’s, aiming for a yin-yang effect on the first floor. The black plaster walls, echoing the steel desks, are intended to change color and shape, due to water content. “We call it the lair,” says Carruth.
The office entry to Blue Sombrero’s floors, Dick’s Sporting Goods Youth Sports division.
Willoughby workers watch a recent World Cup match over laptop screens.
Communal tables and views to distant Buckhead.
Employee parking abuts the lots of new modern houses in the Old Fourth Ward and the sprawling Sunbelt Rentals property.
The building’s north-facing backside.