Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Greater Atlanta


To: The Citizens of Greater Atlanta
Attn: The Honorable Mayor Shirley Franklin, City of Atlanta
Attn: Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chairman John Eaves

Dear Greater Atlanta,
To a city that I love, admire and respect, I write today expressing my concerns about the future of The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public library, commissioned by former Atlanta Library Director, Carlton Rochell. The library site, which encompasses a full city block, is an architecturally significant building and plaza designed by internationally renown architect, Marcel Breuer. Along with the building, at the site, on its terraced forecourt, a monumental sculpture designed by Richard Hunt sits in residence. The sculpture, entitled “The Wisdom Bridge”, was commissioned by one of Atlanta's most beloved former mayors, Maynard Jackson.
So why am I concerned? Because, I believe this important site is in grave danger.
Two years ago in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the Grosse Pointe Central Public Library, another civic site also designed by Marcel Breuer, was going to be demolished. Fortunately the Grosse Pointe’s Central has been saved, and is in route to be restored. Over time, the citizens and the leadership of Grosse Point came to understand that progress also meant preservation; that to successfully move into the future, one must also respect the past. The Grosse Point Central Library stands proud today and is in the process of having a complete, respectful renovation. Furthermore, the site is now recognized by the World Monuments Funds as one of 2008’s World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites; an achievement not to be taken lightly.
In the Downtown Central Library, Greater Atlanta has a legendary treasure of its own, but it needs to be respected and carefully preserved. To those ends, I am proud to announce that the site has been nominated for the World Monuments Fund 2010 100 Most Endangered Sites.
Enclosed with this letter is a selection of comments from the online petition, “A Plea for Preservation”, which now has over 400 endorsements; representing an international voice, sharing my views. Atlanta is a world class city and it would be a world class shame to destroy this masterpiece, a one-of-a-kind architectural site.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus, the school in Germany, where many believe the foundation for modernism was laid. Marcel Breuer went there as a student and later taught there as a teacher, before migrating to America and teaching at Harvard. The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library is the very last building the Breuer built in his 50-year career; a stellar career, which saw more than 300 public and private commissions. So the significance of this site, its pedigree and provenance -- function and locale -- cannot be overstated.

Respectfully yours,

Max Eternity

Cc: Council Chairperson Lisa Borders, City of Atlanta
Cc: The Honorable Mayor Jere Wood, City of Roswell
Cc: Executive Director John Szabo, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System
Cc: Executive Director Susan Ellis-Proper, AIA Atlanta
Cc: The Creative Loafing
Cc: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cc: Art Papers Magazine