Design Alabama
Design Alabama


Walking in High Cotton

A nondescript warehouse with no windows in Irondale has been transformed into an inviting and highly functional work environment offering abundant light and views.

Williams Blackstock Architects in Birmingham renovated the interior of the 57,000-square-foot long-abandoned tilt-up panel warehouse for High Cotton, a data-driven company that serves the banking and healthcare industries with payment technology and customer communications. Office space comprises 15,000 square feet and printing production takes up 43,000 square feet.

New windows were cut into the existing concrete walls and large areas of interior glass were added. The result is light flooding the interior and a “layering” effect with views that extend from the main lobby – which features a full-height glass wall – and through to the office space.

“Very few places in the building don’t have natural light,” observes architect Joanne Riddle who was on the project team. “The walls are solid concrete, so we had to take drastic measures to open them up without hurting their structural integrity.”

Focal points include glass box “war rooms” located in the open office area. These glassed-in conference rooms provide privacy without giving up daylight and views. And located between the office and production areas is a “town center,” an employee gathering spot containing a dining area and kitchen.

“This was a fast-track project, so we kept the existing concrete floors and stained and polished them,” Riddle explains. “The interior mechanical systems were left exposed and painted white.”

A sophisticated color palette was used throughout, consisting of soothing neutrals in white and gray with accents of the company’s signature blue.

The High Cotton renovation project received the 2017 AIA Birmingham honor award and jury award in the commercial category.

Image 1- A wall in this conference room is painted the shade of blue found in the High Cotton logo. Lighting fixtures throughout are striking and modern, and are in keeping with the interior’s overall scheme.

Image 2- Williams Blackstock Architects took a dreary warehouse with no windows that sat vacant for several years and flooded it with plentiful light with the addition of new windows and large expanses of glass.

Image 3- When visitors enter the lobby area, they are sure to be impressed by the dramatic glass full-height wall.

Image 4- Glass box “war rooms” create a sculptural effect and serve as central hubs for video conferencing and meetings. The glass walls provide auditory privacy , while keeping the space open to its surroundings and letting in light. 

*Article By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Williams Blackstock Architects


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