Thyssenkrupp Elevator Americas, a branch of the German steel and industrial conglomerate, is set to invest some $200 million to build a headquarters complex and test tower in Cobb County.
The company announced July 26 that the project would bring 900 jobs to three facilities on a nearly five-acre site near the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park and the surrounding development Battery Atlanta.
The Braves Development Company owns the land and will develop the complex for one of the world’s largest elevator companies. Thyssenkrupp will consolidate hundreds of workers from other offices in Alpharetta, Kennesaw and Atlanta, as well as hire new staff. Thyssenkrupp Elevator is an $8.5 billion company that on its own has 20,000-plus employees across the Americas, three-fourths of them in North America.
Its new Atlanta complex will include a 150,000 square-foot corporate headquarters and an 80,000-square-foot business services and administrative center, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
The 420-foot tower will be one of the tallest for elevator testing and qualification in the world. It’s designed to have 18 shafts, allowing for testing of high-tech innovations, some of which haven’t yet hit the market. Executives say the company is trying to shake up an industry whose main product hasn’t changed for decades.
The TWIN elevator, in which two independently cabled elevators operate within the same shaft, is set to make its North American debut at Georgia Tech’s new CODA building in Midtown next year. Thyssenkrupp a few years ago signed a letter of intent to take space in that building. CODA sits near Thyssenkrupp’s Research Innovation Center in Technology Square, one of some 90 company outposts around the country where engineers work with startups and students to generate and test ideas for new products or processes. The lab and the association with Georgia Tech gives researchers access to 3D printers and other technologies.
Meanwhile, the company’s MULTI elevator, which has no cable and can move laterally as well as vertically on magnetically levitating tracks, will also be tested at the new tower to ensure compliance with strict safety regulations. Promoters are going as far as to say this product could change the way buildings end are constructed.
The Atlanta test tower is to be built by 2020 as the lease runs out on the company’s Mississippi facility, according to WABE. It joins taller but similar buildings in China and Germany, other key nodes in the company’s overall innovation network.
The tower will also become a community attraction in its own right. It’s set to be the tallest building in Cobb County, with an ordinance recently having to be changed to accommodate the height, according to the MDJ.
Some reports indicated that an observation deck will draw non-employees to take in skyline views after — what else? — riding an elevator to the top.
Thyssenkrupp’s group company is no stranger to Georgia or the South. For years it has run a Georgia Tech innovation partnership and operates a shared services center in Alpharetta, as well as a Kennesaw office. The conglomerate was responsible one of the largest foreign investments in the South ever: A $4 billion steel mill in Alabama it eventually had to sell off.
Executives hinted at the consolidation of the elevators group in a Global Atlanta interview back in 2015 that covered the company’s approach to so-called “open innovation,” how large companies work with startups and academics to pinpoint blind spots and look to the future of their business.
Executives were in Atlanta for a systemwide conclave on innovation as they sought to increase digitization within company more known for its physical products — elevators, escalators, bearings, rolled steel — rather than the bits and bytes that help automate their business.
Thyssenkrupp Americas CEO Patrick Bass said at the time that the company was aiming to make itself more visible, given its industrial and steel-focused legacy.
“We have an amazing footprint here in the South that people don’t know yet, but we’re definitely delivering the message,” Mr. Bassa said at the time.
A 420-foot tower definitely makes statement.