Brutal Truths

Architect wants to add more windows to Breuer’s Brutalist Atlanta library

Architecture East News
(Courtesy Docomomo US)

This week, architects presented revised plans for the renovation of Marcel Breuer’s Central Library in Downtown Atlanta to Fulton County officials and members of the public. The new scheme adds large windows to the building’s lower stories, and converts some of the library’s common areas into spaces that will be rented out by private interests.

At that meeting, Tim Fish of Atlanta firm Cooper Carry previewed design and programmatic changes to the 1980 building. The firm plans to add an atrium and more windows to the front of the building, in addition to upgrading the electrical and mechanical systems. While the 250,000-square-foot library is exclusively public property now, the renovations will convert 50,000 square feet into private, leasable space. Library officials are hoping to rent the ground and second floors to restaurant or university tenants. The portions of the seventh and eighth floors that aren’t taken up by mechanical equipment will be rented out to private interests, too.

Back in 2016, the city wanted to scrap the Brutalist building and replace it with a contemporary structure. But after an outcry from preservationists in Atlanta and all over the country, the city decided to renovate the library instead.

The renovation is expected to cost $50 million in total, and bids for construction work will go out next month.

The SaportaReport noted that many residents at the meeting spoke out against the windows scheme, and questioned the need for more natural light, especially as adding multiple windows to an existing building is an expensive proposition.

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