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Strong But Civil
Freelon Group and HOK selected for civil rights center
The new home of the Center for Civil & Human Rights is located on the edge of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.
Courtesy CCHR

The Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta has selected the Freelon Group of Durham, North Carolina and HOK of Atlanta to design a new museum and justice center on the edge of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown. Freelon and HOK have called for two interlocking L-shaped buildings surrounding a courtyard and topped with green roofs.

The design represents “interlocking arms, people coming together,” said Phil Freelon, a firm principal. “It’s a symbol of solidarity and we hope a fitting way to convey the story of the Center.” The jury responded to the design’s strong and highly recognizable architectural presence on the site, according to executive director Douglas Shipman.

Approaching the museum from the park.

The Freelon/HOK design bested designs by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Stanley Beaman & Sears, Huff + Gooden Architects with Hammel Green and Abrahamson, Moody•Nolan of Columbus with Antoine Predock Architect and Goode Van Slyke, Polshek Partnership Architects with Cooper Carry and Stanley, Love-Stanley. “We are so honored to have competed in such a distinguished group. To prevail is just amazing,” Freelon told AN.

Among dozens of commercial and institutional projects, Freelon Group has designed the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture in Charlotte.

Designed to resemble interlocking arms, the museum presents a highly recognizable face to the city.

The Center will celebrate the history of civil and human rights, especially the contribution of Atlantans, and will display the King Papers as well as host events relating to current civil and human rights activities. The 100,000-square-foot, $125 million project is expected to open in 2012.

Alan G. Brake