Community interest surrounds the design of the new Center for Civil and Human Rights

People do care.

About 300 Atlantans attended the first of two nights of presentations of potential designs for the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

Three architectural teams unveiled their designs over three hours Tuesday evening (the remaining two will make their presentations tonight) at the American Cancer Society’s headquarters building.

In an email exchange after the meeting, Doug Shipman, executive director, was obviously pleased with the attendance and hopeful that the community will come to a consensus on a design for the center.

“No matter what — great turnout, eh?” Shipman wrote. “Fun to see that many people interested.”

That’s what happens when people are invited into the planning process.
The center’s leaders selected five finalists to submit their designs for a 90,000 square foot green building to be built on the same block as the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola.

The three teams making presentations Tuesday evening were:

• Polshek Partnership Architects of New York with Atlanta partners — Cooper Carry and Stanley Love-Stanley;

• Huff + Gooden Architects of New York with partner Hammel Green and Abrahamson of Minneapolis working with the Atlanta firm of Smith Dahlia; and

• Moody-Nolan of Columbus, Ohio working with Antoine Predock of Albuquerque and the Atlanta firm of Goode Van Slyke.

The remaining two teams will make their presentations tonight:

• Diller Scofidio + Renfro of New York working with the Atlanta firm of Stanley Beaman & Sears; and
• Freelon Group of Durham, N.C. and partner HOK of Atlanta.

Architectural firms don’t really like design competitions because they require a great amount of upfront work with no guarantee of getting the job.

But we are the beneficiaries by being able to look inside the minds of top architects. It broadens our minds by helping us see the striking interpretations of how the center should be designed.

Once I’ve seen all five presentations, I’ll share my thoughts. Until then, just let me enjoy being part of a community that cares.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

2 replies
  1. martarider says:

    Too bad they wouldn’t acknowledge this level of “community interest” back when they were dealing with the more important issue of site selection. See

    It’s hard to get too excited about anything on that site. Auburn Avenue is where this thing belongs, no question. A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine from DC was in town and I took him on a walking tour of downtown. I pointed out this block and the proposal for the civil rights museum. His immediate reaction was, “you’re really going to have have a civil rights museum share a site with a shrine to Coca-Cola?!” This will be the reaction of many out-of-town visitors.

    Anyway, if they must do it there, hopefully they will at least put the main entrance on the *street* rather than some soulless corporate “plaza.” COP Dr and Allen Blvd really do not need another wall of loading docks and over-sized parking garages (a la the aquarium or WoC).Report

    • Maria Saporta says:

      Dear Martarider,
      It certainly would have been wonderful to have had more options on where to locate the Center for Civil and Human Rights. I personally believed the center did belong on or near Auburn Avenue, ideally near the King Center. Unfortunately, the community was unable to provide viable alternatives to the Centennial Olympic Park site. It may be one of Atlanta’s missed opportunities. But what is most important is that Atlanta is seizing the opportunity to build a center that will crystalize our city’s role in the Civil Rights movement and solidify our ongoing international role in promoting human rights. Doing nothing would have been the greatest loss.
      And I also agree with you that the way the new center meets the street will be critically important to the overall design.
      Maria SaportaReport


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