CNN Center

Live From Times Square and Peachtree
Posted November 6, 2006

Turner Properties originally invited signage and graphics firm Sky Design (Atlanta) to upgrade lighting and signage at the Turner Store in Atlanta’s CNN Center. But after the dust had settled, the project had morphed into a total renovation not only of the store, but also of the entire Inside CNN tour area.

The project ended up incorporating a massive deployment of dynamic visual technologies, including LED extravaganzas, flat panels, interactive projection screens and focused sound domes. Drawing from the endless supply of news-based content from the core network, the various multimedia components also promote the extensive spectrum of Turner and Time-Warner brands.

“The concept was ultimately to create an overwhelming environment of activity and movement,” says Todd Vaught, vp and principal of Sky Design, a division of architectural and design firm Associated Space Design. “The visitors should feel they are at the world center of news, a sort of Times Square in Atlanta.”

The “Times Square” ambience is nowhere so evident as at the newly renovated Turner Store entrance, which includes five distinct zones of visual engagement. Dominating the entrance are three different full-color LED arrays. The uppermost, a blue news ticker band about 25 feet above the entrance, carries targeted messages for specific retail products available within the store, including special offers and other promotional text.

On a far larger scale, another orange ticker message board scrolls a live CNN news feed across the storefront, wraps down the hall and into the store, 250 linear feet that create continuity between the interior and exterior. The electronic background of the upper LED band is set to “Turner blue,” while the background of the lower band corresponds to “CNN red,” corporate colors echoed throughout the project. Between the two bands, a 10-foot-wide, high-resolution, LED television display broadcasts the live news network.

A 25-foot-high scrolling ad board rotates Turner Ad Group’s large-format print media from left to right. Directly adjacent, an open steel and glass enclosure offers an enticing view into the store interior. In the lower portion, a low LED wall provides a glowing “Turner South green” lightbox background for apparel window merchandising. Suspended above, nine 5-foot diagonal plasma screens broadcast live network content, further emphasizing the broad range of Turner programming options.

Inside, the store’s new fixturing strategy divides the merchandise areas by network brand. Mounted on each merchandising module is a pair of LCD flat screens broadcasting a live feed from the specific network related to the products for sale on the unit (for example, Adult Swim Frisbees). These broadcast displays provide more compelling department identification than a static sign would.

Across the atrium from the Turner store, the Inside CNN tour ticket booth, at the base of the mezzanine elevator, is similarly enhanced with a combination of multimedia presentations that simultaneously promote, inform and entertain. Three electronic screens are mounted on the front of the booth. The uppermost broadcasts a live network feed; the next, at about eye level, provides information about the tour itself. Beneath it is a slightly retro LED sign, which imparts a mild sense of urgency by counting down the minutes to the next tour.

The most high-tech multimedia event awaits the tour-goer at the top of the mezzanine elevator, which ascends to a spectacular 50-foot diameter glass globe atrium. As a staging area for ticket holders, this zone is designed to occupy and engage assembled visitors as they await the tour. Applying interactive technology in a meaningful way, Sky Design (in collaboration with parent company ASD) created eight interactive information stations that allow viewers to access and play any content in the CNN news archives. Visual content is projected directly onto clear glass panels fitted out with touchscreen technology, while corresponding audio is focused downward from sound domes suspended from the ceiling.

Design: Sky Design, Atlanta

Photography: Brian Robbins, Suwanee, Ga.