New Project (Renovation): Bar Antico – Italian Cafe with High Performance Twist

We have obained the permit from the City of Atlanta for the renovation and addition of this brick building in the “West Side” neighborhood of Home Park. Before demolition began, the building was a single-family home, and next to it was the parking for one of the busiest pizza joints in the country, Antico Pizza.

Bar Antico Pizza Existing Photo

Whenever we get the chance to renovate an older building, we get pretty excited about the potential of turning it in to something more than it ever was. In this case, we’re turning a a run-down house with a crumbling roof into a vibrant Italian cafe serving Gelato (my favorite), Coffee/Espresso, Italian Pastries (another favorite), and the occasional after dinner Limoncello.

Antico Pizza LogoIf you’ve never been to Antico Pizza, get ready for a “full” Italian experience. Then new design features an open piazza where you can sit outside with your gelato after stuffing your face with the best pizza…ever (not just my opinion). If you haven’t ever been to Antico Pizza, I would strongly suggest that you go…immediately!!! (You can’t go wrong with the San Gennaro).

For this project, we collaborated with Smith Hanes of Smith Hanes Design and Joshua Charles of Sugar and Salt (forming a new studio called Flags of Origin) to create a 2,000 square foot cafe that the people of Home Park and the patrons of Antico Pizza are really excited about. Finishes have been selected to work with the authentically Italian aesthetic that the owner insisted on and the building envelope is on par with the other high performance projects we’ve had fun working on.


Like any project, whether it’s new construction or a renovation, we were faced with a lot of great opportunities. I tend to think opportunities are greater with existing buildings, but that may just be because I like to see the transformation.

The first 8′-0 or so of the existing double wythe brick wall will remain as is. In order to get the 10′-0″ ceiling heights that we want, we’re going build on top of the existing exterior walls to a height of 13′-8″ (including parapet) with a frame and brick wall assembly. We’re going to strip the paint from the exterior side of the existing wall, and leave it exposed to match the new brick. The interior side of the main walls will have a thin plaster coat finish or ceramic tile.

Existing Exterior wall at Bar Antico PizzaThe original walls didn’t have any insulation, so we’re leaving enough of a gap between a new layer of brick on the inside and original layers of brick to allow for closed-cell spray foam insulation. The higher R-Value per inch allows us to minimize that gap and overall wall thickness. The foam will also give us the air barrier we want to minimize air flow in and out of the building. The tighter we can make the building, the lower the heating and cooling load will be due to infiltration and the lower the owner’s energy bills will be. This is something than any restaurant owner would be glad to do.

For the newer sections of the exterior wall, we’ll use a hybrid of framing and brick to allow for more insulation than the existing sections. Because this project is considered an “alteration” by code, and we’re not “exposing” any existing framing, the existing walls are exempt from meeting the code for thermal resistance (U – 0.089 or R – 11.25). Of course, this was unacceptable for me, so I insisted on having at least 1.5″ of closed-cell foam (approx. R6-R7 per inch), which gives the wall about R12-R14 plus the brick (about R 0.8 per 4″ brick layer).

Wall mounted Ductless Mini Split Bar Antico Pizza

Wall-Mounted Ductless Mini-Split

All windows are going to be replaced with new higher performance windows (U – 0.30 max, SHGC 0.25 max.). The roofline will be insulated with open-cell spray foam to a minimum of R-20, and we have designed an HVAC system that we like very much and that the owner insisted on because of the comfort and efficiency it provides at the pizzeria. We’ve designed for 5 wall-mounted ductless mini-split units in the main area, and 1 ceiling cassette in the bakery. These are very popular in many Italian shops and residences, so they fit right in. In fact, much of Europe, Asia and South America use mini-split systems for their heating and cooling. Very energy efficient, very effective and very quiet!

We’ll be posting progress photos as we get underway. If you’re in the Atlanta area, feel free to drop by. We hope to be under construction in the next week or two!

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