Central Library’s renovation: Four more opportunities for public comment
By David Pendered
Fulton County residents have four more opportunities to express their thoughts about the planned renovation of the Central Library, in Downtown Atlanta. The first two meetings were held Wednesday.
About 10 persons attended the two sessions Wednesday, library spokesperson Claudia Strange said Thursday. Strange said library officials hope many individuals will attend a future meeting to share their thoughts about what the renovated library should provide to the community.
Here’s the meeting schedule:
- Oct 10 – 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., in the Central Library Auditorium;
- Oct 19 – 6:30 p.m., at the Alpharetta Library;
- Oct 24 – 6:30 p.m., at the South Fulton Library.
The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System intends to renovate Central Library in order to better meet current and future needs. The library opened in 1980 and a large portion of the facility is vacant, used for storage or otherwise not serving a significant public purpose.
Fulton County’s procurement department is still determining who will move and store the library’s contents during the construction period. The bid has not been awarded, according to the department’s website. The bid was issued July 27 and the deadline for responses was Sept. 11.
The decision to renovate the building was reached after a public outcry against a proposal to demolish the building and build a Downtown library elsewhere. The architecture of the building was part of the outcry.
Central Library is the last building designed by world-renown architect Marcel Breuer. He used the same brutalist style he deployed in his acclaimed Whitney Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
Central Library opened in 1980 as the Atlanta’s statement to the world that it had arrived as a major city. The design isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it does mark a moment in Atlanta’s history during the administration the city’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson.
One renovation plan floated by the library system called for retooling five or six floors for library purposes. This would leave three to four floors available for lease. A number of potential public uses have been discussed, including locating Fulton County employees in the space.
Renovating the floors for library use would involve, “extensive renovations,” according to the report. The remaining floors would require less extensive renovation efforts.
One design for the renovated library has been offered. It’s intended to promote conversation about the possibilities for the renovation. The design resulted from the combined effort of the Atlanta-based Architecture and Design Center and Praxis3.
Here’s how Praxis3 describes the collaboration and resulting design:
“The Atlanta-based Architecture and Design Center (ADC) has undertaken an unsolicited, pro-bono design effort with the assistance of Atlanta firm, Praxis3 architecture + multidisciplinary design, to show that the Atlanta-Fulton Central Library designed by Marcel Breuer can once again be a vital, dynamic part of the Atlanta community. It is our belief that this 20th Century architectural masterpiece can be updated to become an iconic exemplar of the 21st Century public library.
- “To this point, the design team shows a reprogrammed building with many reimagined civic and library functions. Key interventions on the interior of the building open up the space and gives it new life. An exterior renovation could reinvent the plaza into an open and inviting civic space while adding direct access to lower level gallery and auditorium spaces. Lastly, a series of subtle but dynamic media projections would enliven the building’s façade while respecting the building’s historically significant architecture.
- “This effort was entirely unsolicited and is intended as a study for the public and for various political entities to demonstrate what the library can become.”