Preservation Magazine, Winter 2017

Atlanta City Council Votes For Rehab Of Breuer-Designed Central Library

Central Library Building in Atlanta, Georgia

photo by: Dana Hoff

In each Transitions section of Preservation magazine, we highlight places of local and national importance that have recently been restored, are currently threatened, have been saved from demolition or neglect, or have been lost. Here's one from Winter 2017.

The main branch building of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, completed in 1980, was the last design of renowned Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer to come to fruition. When built, the concrete structure contained a 290-seat auditorium, six stories of library space, and a restaurant. The building proved difficult to maintain over the years, and the restaurant shuttered in the late 1990s.

In June of 2016, Atlanta’s City Council passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a new Central Library building at the same address as the current structure, causing concern among preservationists and the public. In July, the county Board of Commissioners voted to renovate the existing structure, at an estimated cost of between $40 million and $55 million.

Work on installing a new roof has started, and other upgrades in the next several years will include revamped HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems; new flooring; and updated IT and self-checkout capabilities. The library has been listed on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2017 “Places In Peril” list, reflecting some preservationists’ fears that the rehabilitation may not be sensitive to Breuer’s original design.

Katherine Flynn is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys coffee, record stores, and uncovering the stories behind historic places.

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