May 25th: Central's 29th Anniversary
May 25th marks the 29th anniversary of the Marcel Breuer designed Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library’s dedication. From Ann Boutwell's "A Look Back" column in Atlanta Intown magazine:
Mayor Maynard Jackson, along with the
Atlanta CityCouncil and the Board of Trustees of the Public Library, dedicated the new structure at Atlanta One Margaret Mitchell Square. Architects Marcel Breuer and HamiltonSmith of Marcel Breuer Associates with Stevens and Wilkinson of designed the building. Atlanta
The building was originally commissioned by then Library Director, Carlton Rochell. Rochell had a special interest in Breuer’s work, and was known to be quite fond of
The idea to seek an internationally famous architect for the new library was promoted by its board of directors and by the library’s director, Carton Rochell, who was particularly enthusiastic about Breuer’s
of American Art. Rochell and members of the board requested interviews with three architects in Whitney Museum and visited two (Breuer and Paul Rudolph). New York
One of the best works of Breuer’s late career, the
building is a departure from his standard library “box.” Instead, he reinvented the stepped profile, grand-massing, few windows and ”severe, hard-edged, geometric volumes,” as Atlanta HamiltonSmith described them, of the . Whitney Museum
It should also be remembered that noted architect Carl Stein, who at one time worked for Breuer, is attributed with having made important contributions to the building’s site plan.
Nonetheless, the building does have its critics.
It has been more than a year now since Rob Pitts of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners announced his plans to demolish the building and sell the property to a private investor. That plan, supported by the current Library Director, John Szabo, was controversial from the start. It was, however, embraced by the Board and hastily attached to a very popular library bond referendum. And though the referendum was adopted in a public vote last November, Pitt's plan is still as unpopular as ever.
In the course of the ongoing preservation debate, with praise being lavished on the building by conservator Albert Albano of the Intermuseum Conservation Association, artist Max Eternity of Art Digital Magazine, architect Jon Buono of DOCOMOMO and Professor Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – Bergdoll having declared the building a “masterpiece” -- the building and plaza have received much public attention. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper has featured the library in several news articles, as has
- Wisdom Bridge by Richard Hunt -
Still, however important the Breuer contribution is to
- Richard Hunt, American Sculpture (1935 - ) -
Like Breuer, Richard Hunt has had his share of firsts. In 1971, he became the first African-American artist to have a major solo exhibition at the
In April 2009, the International Sculpture Center honored Hunt with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sitting on the terraced forecourt of the Atlanta Breuer Library, the “
was a giant in every sense of the word. Not just because of his boombox voice and his massive 6ft 3in, 21-stone frame that dominated every room he entered. He was a political titan as well, the first black mayor of a major Southern city, and a prime mover in the emergence of Atlanta in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the great metropolises of America. Jackson
- Mayor Maynard Jackson -
In 2004 Mayor Jackson was posthumously honored with an Atlanta Gas Light Shining Light Award. The award came with a purse of $10,000 which was donated to the Maynard H. Jackson Youth Foundation. Upon accepting the award, his widow Valerie Jackson said "This light so personifies Maynard's radiant soul…Maynard's light was a glow that took in everybody and everything around him." Ingrid Saunders Jones, a former member of
Select images of works by American artist Richard Hunt can be seen below.