Atlanta is the “new southern capital” of the United States. As one of the top three highland cities in the United States (located on the platform of the Appalachian foothills at 350 meters above sea level), Atlanta has headquarters for Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, and CNN.
At the same time, in this future city, many historic buildings were demolished and replaced by parking lots. So what happens next in this city?
Sign of the pillar
“This is a city of demolition,” said Boyd Kuhn, executive director of the Atlanta Conservation Center (APC). “In Atlanta, dismantling historic buildings is no longer an easy task.”
The Atlanta Conservation Center is repairing an Italian mansion. This mansion was originally built in 1856 by the father of Atlanta and the railway tycoon Lemmel Grant. In the Civil War, General Sherman burned Atlanta, and only three buildings before the Civil War survived. This is one of them.
For decades, the mansion has been forgotten and even included in the list to be demolished until 2001, when it was bought by the Atlanta Conservation Center. The Atlanta Conservation Center transformed the first floor of the building and is now the headquarters of the Atlanta Conservation Center.
In the garden of the building—Kuun points to the upturned part of the top of a column about 4 inches in diameter—the only remaining remains of the Justice Building. The Justice Building is an 8-storey office building built in 1892 by the tram giant and developer Joel Hart. As the building was demolished in 1971, the columns were treated as construction waste.
“For 40 years, those pillars have been thrown together in disorder,” Kuhn said. “10 years ago, the land where the pillars were piled up was sold. We took the opportunity to buy the pillar. The rest of the building was dumped. In a landfill near the prison, this represents much of Atlanta’s attitude towards history.”
In the late 1960s, a new justice building rose nearby. The 32-story skyscraper was designed by architect SOM, and the original site was the Piedmont Hotel, including US President Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, both of which were regulars at the hotel, but this prevented the hotel from being in 1963. Was removed.
Disappeared one after another
The first historic building to be demolished in Atlanta was the Golden Globe House Hotel. This large 360-room hotel occupies almost the entire downtown area. It was once hit by a fire and was rebuilt in 1883, famous for its gorgeous decoration and spectacular chandeliers. In 1959, the Golden Globe House was demolished and replaced by a multi-storey car park.
In 1972, the Atlanta Railway Station (built in 1905) was demolished. Designed by architect P. Thonton Meyer, this magnificent building is a Renaissance style. The 26-storey Richard Russell Federal Building was built on the site.
In 1977, the Carnegie Library fell. The classic building, designed by New York architects Ackerman and Ross, opened in 1902 and is a gift from the steel giant and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In preparation for the 1996 Olympic Games, the Atlanta City Government rebuilt a new library on the site and built a monument in Hardy Ivy Park with the original building materials.
In 1978, the Loft Theatre disappeared. The theater was the venue for the premiere of the 1939 film Gone with the Wind, when African-American actors who appeared in the film were once rejected. It was founded in 1893 and was formerly known as the Grand Opera of Depel.
The Gulf Oil Office is the first work of IM Pei, but it is also difficult to escape the fate of being demolished. The famous Chinese American architect later built the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and built the Bank of China Building in Hong Kong, but his first work no longer exists. The developer retained the marble slabs of the original Gulf Oil Office, rebuilt in one corner and is now used as a lobby for a luxury apartment building.
Even the works designed by the Atlanta-based architect John Portman, whose local influence is huge, cannot be preserved by himself. Built in 1965, the Anthony Griffith Urban Old Man Residence was one of his earliest designs, and a personally styled atrium appeared in this public housing project. Later, Portman applied this design to the Hyatt Hotel, which has since become famous for its spectacular interior design. In 2008, the building was demolished after it was destroyed in a tornado.
The demolition has never been interrupted. As Kuhn warns, the list of national historic buildings does not mean that the building is innocent.
Built in 1911, the Craig House in Ansley Park was built by the American Revolutionary Daughters Association and has been abandoned since its completion. In 2012, a couple bought this old house and planned to transform it into an ordinary family home. However, in a blizzard, most of the house was severely damaged, and only the façade with four Corinthian columns survived. In 2016, it was completely razed to the ground.
In 2017, the Fauvist Building Georgia Archives was demolished. It was designed by Thomas Bradbury and was hailed as the most advanced archive in the United States when it was completed in 1965. The Georgian government said the two interstate highways had structural damage to the building. On its original site, the new Georgia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal will rise to the ground.
Kuhn believes that the Atlanta people have not forgotten these historic buildings. “People really want to preserve historic buildings,” he said. “They want to keep a place with identity and character.”
The battle is still going on
Buildings currently threatened include the Gaines Hall at the University of Atlanta Center and the Futur Central Library, designed by Marcel Brewer. The former was severely damaged by fire three years ago, and the latter was described by Kuhn as “Guggenheim Museum in Atlanta.”
Kuhn is also concerned about the future of the Pascal restaurant. This Michelin restaurant was the unofficial headquarters of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Martin Luther King and others often met here to plan protests against parades and sit-ins, so they were also known as the “Black City Hall.” Today, the damage to the building is getting worse.
In order to retain the “Zero Mile” milestone – a stone marking the end of the Western Atlanta and Atlantic Railroad, the Atlanta Conservation Center is conducting lobbying activities. The landmark is currently located in an abandoned building in downtown Atlanta, which is facing the dilemma of being demolished, and the developer does not guarantee that it will remain.
“We have to save the best buildings,” Kuhn said. “They are the materials and imprints for building a better city in the future. Atlanta is an avant-garde place, and we are all proud of it, but it is our duty to protect historic buildings. Any building is much more interesting than a parking lot.”