No, that’s not a super-slim apartment stack or bungee-jumping platform.

A tower recently built of steel beams that peers down on Interstate 285 travelers from the Assembly Atlanta TV/film studio complex will actually soon be clad in LED panels to serve two functions: a gigantic message board and statement piece near the main studio entry.

According to Third Rail Studios (and Assembly Atlanta), which is part of the Doraville complex, the “iconic” tower component is expected to be finished and lit up soon. It stands 140 feet tall (nearly three times the height of Marietta’s famed Big Chicken, another WTF roadside landmark) and 23-feet wide.

How the LED tower is expected to eventually lord over an Assembly Atlanta greenspace. I-285 is pictured at top right here, beyond a future phase of development. Gray TV; building designs, Smith Dalia Architects; landscapes, HGOR

Assembly Atlanta/@assemblyatlanta

The tower will display news on events, advertisements, and other announcements, as Third Rail Studios relayed on Instagram.

Early project renderings referred to the lighted structure as the “Iconic Tower,” meant to make an impression on Assembly Atlanta visitors as they approach an entry just south of I-285.

Assembly has remade Doraville’s former General Motors plant site into 22 new soundstages resembling a Los Angeles-style studio city. Backlots have taken shape with distinctive facades designed to mimic brownstones in New York City, a grittier section with exposed fire escapes called “Tribeca,” a fancier district that will stand in for streets in European capital cities, and another area meant to be the French Quarter in New Orleans.

The first Smith Dalia Architects-designed phase alone is expected to cost $305 million and include more than 1 million square feet of film-production space—from warehouses to dining halls and bungalows for private production—across 53 acres. In addition to I-285, it’s situated next to MARTA’s Gold Line, about 11 miles north of Midtown.

Another phase-one section is a public-accessible greenspace called Assembly Commons, featuring a 2-acre central lawn and large retaining pond with water jets at the bottom that create fountain effects.

Atlanta-based Gray Television, the project owner and one of the nation’s largest owners of broadcast TV stations, says the studios will be among Georgia’s largest, with the full development eventually claiming 135 acres. [CORRECTION: 8:14 a.m. March 22: The project developer is Gipson Company, not Gray, as previously stated.] 

As seen in January from I-285's many lanes, the under-construction tower and Assembly's movie-backdrop facades. Google Maps

The project today, and how it's expected to glow soon. Assembly Atlanta/@assemblyatlanta; Third Rail Studios

GM’s factory shuttered in 2008, ending a 60-year run and leaving the site in limbo for years. Gray bought the property from Atlanta developer Integral Group in 2021, acquired the site’s existing Third Rail Studios a few months later, and launched soundstage construction in 2022. 

A ceremony was held in February last year to mark the end of phase one’s vertical construction. 

Aspects of the project that won’t move forward as planned—at least for now—include housing, hotel rooms, eateries, and shops. Last year, Gray officials blamed “macroeconomic concern about real estate,” including supply issues, for bumping back the timelines for developing Assembly’s more traditional mixed-use facets.

As shown in an early rendering, the LED tower planned as a statement piece at the studio city's main entry.Gray TV; building designs, Smith Dalia Architects; landscapes, HGOR


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