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Architectural challenge

Can the symphony make beautiful music with Calatrava?



Atlanta will no doubt occupy a curious distinction in the professional history of Santiago Calatrava. Ironically, in 1999 the famed bridge builder was snubbed by the city in favor of the more lackluster Georgia DOT for a project to span the highway and connect the Atlantic Station development to Midtown. But now he has been selected to design the Atlanta Symphony Hall, a project unlike any other in his portfolio.?

?This will arguably be the most challenging of all his architectural projects, both in terms of its site and purpose. To date, Calatrava has been more successful at designing expressive and enigmatic structures than creating rich and dynamic public spaces. Most of his buildings are located in relatively vacant urban peripheries, allowing his innovative and often animated forms to serve as catalysts for future developments. But in Atlanta's Midtown, Calatrava must compete (and comply) with an existing urban fabric, one sorely in need of a pedestrian revitalization-- not just a World's Fair folly. ?
?
?Opportunities for enhancing pedestrian zones in and around the new cultural center already seem threatened by master planner Cesar Pelli. His preliminary vision for the site calls for construction within the block of a new street and cul-de-sac to access the hall. The last thing Midtown needs is more asphalt, even less another dead-end, drop-off zone catering to the city's car culture. But more dismaying than the proposed tree-lined allee is Pelli's comparison of the view leading to the new symphony hall as being like the approach to a "great plantation." ?
?
?Unfortunately, the myths generated by Hollywood's production of Gone With the Wind are alive and well. Peachtree was never an avenue of plantations, and the notion of invoking that type of space is clearly insensitive to the city's needs and the community at large. Furthermore, to create such a metaphor under the steering of the ASO's predominantly white board of directors is easy fodder for criticism. ?
?
?Calatrava's approach to architecture, however, is largely anti-regional and does not subscribe to particular building traditions (although stylistic ties have been loosely made to his fellow countryman, Antoni Gaud'). But like the progressive buildings of American architect Eero Saarinen (TWA terminal, Dulles Airport), Calatrava's designs embody a modern zeitgeist — part space age, part biomorphic. For good reason, both architects' boldest creations have been facilities for transportation; those crossroads of travel that service the advances of our modern era. Calatrava's concepts for airports, train stations and radio towers are fantastic intersections of technology and design, which celebrate the relationship between architecture and the machine.?
?
?To be sure, Atlanta Symphony's Midtown site requires a very particular and precise kind of architectural machine — one that integrates circulation for people and cars, while generating a new topography of outdoor public spaces. To perform this function, consider a precedent more useful than Pelli's "romantic" plantation: Charles Garnier's Paris Opera (1862-75). ?
?
?Built during Baron Haussmann's restructuring of the city, the opera house commanded a central position among the newly carved avenues and incorporated visual connections to Paris' existing monuments. Both inside and outside, Garnier's design did more than serve the function of the opera — it reinforced and choreographed the experience of the audience. There, the guiding concept was the ritual of opera attendance: the arrival, socializing before the show or during intermissions, and then the ceremonious departure. Separate entrances were provided both for those arriving by foot or those in carriage, and yet all groups came together at the wide, grand staircase that accessed the various levels of the concert hall. Within a large domed court, the staircase generated a complex experience of "showing off" and observing.?
?
?Ideally, Atlanta's symphony hall will turn Garnier's design "inside-out," opening up the experience of the building to the public and city. The gradual slope of the ASO's site provides ample opportunities to create dynamic urban spaces organized around ramps for traffic, connections to the MARTA station and Woodruff Arts Center, and extensions to the sidewalk. Outdoor staircases are great devices for public space, as they provide both access and a place to sit. And they allow us to get up off the street, giving us a new view of our surroundings.?
?
?But in answer to Calatrava's ability to make beautiful music, he doesn't need to. Although he has constructed performance venues before, Calatrava will follow the lead of the ASO's acoustic consultants Larry Kierkegaard and Auerbach & Associates, who are demagogues in the world of designing and fixing concert halls. With master-planner Pelli, Kierkegaard has already collaborated on a half-dozen other projects around the globe, so this routine is old hack for them. Such success is promising, but it can also yield stale results — which is why one hopes Calatrava will flex his muscles to challenge the relationships between buildings both on-site and off.



More By This Writer

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  string(6326) "A street's identity is held in its buildings, such that Peachtree Street, like most major thoroughfares, has periodically renewed its building stock to promote its vitality. Although it has been said all roads lead to Rome (Italy that is), Peachtree's course seems perpetually defined by the present.

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Neo-modernism has surfaced (or resurfaced) as a calm contender against the chaos-induced, formal complexity of last minute's Deconstructionist movement. But even before the real chaos of 9/11, popular taste was finding comfort in the earlier aesthetic of clarity and stability. Yoshio Taniguchi's 1997 austere design for the Museum of Modern Art expansion (nearing completion) seems to have presupposed the formal simplicity now defining the architectural world's most revelatory project — the reconstruction at Ground Zero. In the last year, architect Daniel Libeskind's jagged (albeit poetic) master plan for the site has been willfully subverted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's tempered tower proposal, and Michael Arad's coolly reflective scheme for the memorial.

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Some Atlantans may think that any prefix to the word "modern" is a load of bunk, and that all buildings since World War II are simply new. Possibly, these folks are so accustomed to the fake columns, false lintels and other spurious crap routinely tacked onto the city's newest facades that the uniqueness of the new building's construction might go unnoticed.

The building's lead designer is back in the ATL for his third building and second tower. Jon Pickard, of the firm Pickard Chilton, designed the Pinnacle building in Buckhead, noted for its clamshell-like canopy of steel and glass. The Yale grad established his career in the venerable New Haven office of Cesar Pelli. At work during a period of big commissions, Pickard made his name with the Petronas Towers project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (once the tallest towers in the world before a bit of Taiwanese envy spurred the raising of the Taipei 101 tower an extra 184 feet). Following the Petronas completion in 1997, Pickard left Pelli's office to start his own firm.

This latest addition to Atlanta's skyline is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in the city in the last decade. Amid a surplus of office space and a lingering fear of high-rise buildings since 9/11, many developers are scratching their heads as to how Hines could rationalize such an investment.

When complete at 650 feet, Symphony Center will be the tallest building built in the city since 1992. In fact, the 41-story tower is one of the largest office developments underway in the nation. The project's heavy financial burden is carried by a partnership of Hines and the California Public Employees' Retirement System — the nation's largest pension fund. (Pickard Chilton is also designing its corporate headquarters.) Ultimately, success for the owners hinged on securing a major tenant. Last year, Atlanta's King & Spalding leased 416,000 square feet in the 681,000-square-foot building, occupying 17 floors. As a testament to fashion, the firm will be moving from another Hines development — Philip Johnson and John Burgee's post-modern conjoined-twin (aka 191 Peachtree Tower).

Pickard has yet to define himself as an architectural expressionist like Norman Foster or Richard Rogers or other members of the "hi-tech" league of designers. Beauty and innovation on that scale come at a cost few developers are willing to spend, and to date Pickard's designs have ultimately satisfied the bottom-line needs of developers like Hines. Cost-saving requirements did allow for sustainable design strategies such as solar shading and natural lighting devices in conjunction with photometric sensors to reduce the building's artificial lighting needs.

Such details are becoming a trademark of Pickard's solo designs. He has consistently employed broad strokes — typically long, sweeping arcs — but upon closer inspection, his "big" and modern gestures are held together by finely crafted metal and glass components often serving as window, wall and screen all at once.

Speaking of broad strokes, the building's size exploits a commodity many long-term Atlantans (officially those living here for more than five years) will quickly notice — the sky. In fact, the openness of Midtown may soon be the stuff of history. Much of the visual expanse associated with the arts district must credit Henri Jova's design for Colony Square. Jova's arrangement of the towers on angle with Peachtree eliminated the canyonlike character of most urban districts, and in Midtown's case, influenced all other development to follow.

Symphony Center's design, however, had to maximize a narrow site, and its positioning is more akin to the keel of a sailing ship. Artfully, the building's scalloped rear pavilion appears to cut a wake through the flow of traffic on 14th Street. Although the long profile and sweeping glass curtain wall of the tower may not resemble other "crowns" in the city's skyline, Pickard's gesture will likely complement the typically fluid forms of Santiago Calatrava's adjacent symphony hall. One can only assume, since the ASO has been consistently and cautiously tight-lipped about the project's development.

One Symphony Center is scheduled to open in early 2006."
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As a case in point, one of the most significant neo-modern additions to the city's architectural collection is currently under construction in Midtown. Located at Peachtree's intersection with 14th Street, the new tower (dubbed One Symphony Center) is adjacent to the Atlanta Symphony Hall site and developed by Houston-based real estate mogul Hines.

Neo-modernism has surfaced (or resurfaced) as a calm contender against the chaos-induced, formal complexity of last minute's Deconstructionist movement. But even before the real chaos of 9/11, popular taste was finding comfort in the earlier aesthetic of clarity and stability. Yoshio Taniguchi's 1997 austere design for the Museum of Modern Art expansion (nearing completion) seems to have presupposed the formal simplicity now defining the architectural world's most revelatory project -- the reconstruction at Ground Zero. In the last year, architect Daniel Libeskind's jagged (albeit poetic) master plan for the site has been willfully subverted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's tempered tower proposal, and Michael Arad's coolly reflective scheme for the memorial.

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Some Atlantans may think that any prefix to the word "modern" is a load of bunk, and that all buildings since World War II are simply new. Possibly, these folks are so accustomed to the fake columns, false lintels and other spurious crap routinely tacked onto the city's newest facades that the uniqueness of the new building's construction might go unnoticed.

The building's lead designer is back in the ATL for his third building and second tower. Jon Pickard, of the firm Pickard Chilton, designed the Pinnacle building in Buckhead, noted for its clamshell-like canopy of steel and glass. The Yale grad established his career in the venerable New Haven office of Cesar Pelli. At work during a period of big commissions, Pickard made his name with the Petronas Towers project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (once the tallest towers in the world before a bit of Taiwanese envy spurred the raising of the Taipei 101 tower an extra 184 feet). Following the Petronas completion in 1997, Pickard left Pelli's office to start his own firm.

This latest addition to Atlanta's skyline is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in the city in the last decade. Amid a surplus of office space and a lingering fear of high-rise buildings since 9/11, many developers are scratching their heads as to how Hines could rationalize such an investment.

When complete at 650 feet, Symphony Center will be the tallest building built in the city since 1992. In fact, the 41-story tower is one of the largest office developments underway in the nation. The project's heavy financial burden is carried by a partnership of Hines and the California Public Employees' Retirement System -- the nation's largest pension fund. (Pickard Chilton is also designing its corporate headquarters.) Ultimately, success for the owners hinged on securing a major tenant. Last year, Atlanta's King & Spalding leased 416,000 square feet in the 681,000-square-foot building, occupying 17 floors. As a testament to fashion, the firm will be moving from another Hines development -- Philip Johnson and John Burgee's post-modern conjoined-twin (aka 191 Peachtree Tower).

Pickard has yet to define himself as an architectural expressionist like Norman Foster or Richard Rogers or other members of the "hi-tech" league of designers. Beauty and innovation on that scale come at a cost few developers are willing to spend, and to date Pickard's designs have ultimately satisfied the bottom-line needs of developers like Hines. Cost-saving requirements did allow for sustainable design strategies such as solar shading and natural lighting devices in conjunction with photometric sensors to reduce the building's artificial lighting needs.

Such details are becoming a trademark of Pickard's solo designs. He has consistently employed broad strokes -- typically long, sweeping arcs -- but upon closer inspection, his "big" and modern gestures are held together by finely crafted metal and glass components often serving as window, wall and screen all at once.

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Neo-modernism has surfaced (or resurfaced) as a calm contender against the chaos-induced, formal complexity of last minute's Deconstructionist movement. But even before the real chaos of 9/11, popular taste was finding comfort in the earlier aesthetic of clarity and stability. Yoshio Taniguchi's 1997 austere design for the Museum of Modern Art expansion (nearing completion) seems to have presupposed the formal simplicity now defining the architectural world's most revelatory project — the reconstruction at Ground Zero. In the last year, architect Daniel Libeskind's jagged (albeit poetic) master plan for the site has been willfully subverted by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's tempered tower proposal, and Michael Arad's coolly reflective scheme for the memorial.

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Some Atlantans may think that any prefix to the word "modern" is a load of bunk, and that all buildings since World War II are simply new. Possibly, these folks are so accustomed to the fake columns, false lintels and other spurious crap routinely tacked onto the city's newest facades that the uniqueness of the new building's construction might go unnoticed.

The building's lead designer is back in the ATL for his third building and second tower. Jon Pickard, of the firm Pickard Chilton, designed the Pinnacle building in Buckhead, noted for its clamshell-like canopy of steel and glass. The Yale grad established his career in the venerable New Haven office of Cesar Pelli. At work during a period of big commissions, Pickard made his name with the Petronas Towers project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (once the tallest towers in the world before a bit of Taiwanese envy spurred the raising of the Taipei 101 tower an extra 184 feet). Following the Petronas completion in 1997, Pickard left Pelli's office to start his own firm.

This latest addition to Atlanta's skyline is one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in the city in the last decade. Amid a surplus of office space and a lingering fear of high-rise buildings since 9/11, many developers are scratching their heads as to how Hines could rationalize such an investment.

When complete at 650 feet, Symphony Center will be the tallest building built in the city since 1992. In fact, the 41-story tower is one of the largest office developments underway in the nation. The project's heavy financial burden is carried by a partnership of Hines and the California Public Employees' Retirement System — the nation's largest pension fund. (Pickard Chilton is also designing its corporate headquarters.) Ultimately, success for the owners hinged on securing a major tenant. Last year, Atlanta's King & Spalding leased 416,000 square feet in the 681,000-square-foot building, occupying 17 floors. As a testament to fashion, the firm will be moving from another Hines development — Philip Johnson and John Burgee's post-modern conjoined-twin (aka 191 Peachtree Tower).

Pickard has yet to define himself as an architectural expressionist like Norman Foster or Richard Rogers or other members of the "hi-tech" league of designers. Beauty and innovation on that scale come at a cost few developers are willing to spend, and to date Pickard's designs have ultimately satisfied the bottom-line needs of developers like Hines. Cost-saving requirements did allow for sustainable design strategies such as solar shading and natural lighting devices in conjunction with photometric sensors to reduce the building's artificial lighting needs.

Such details are becoming a trademark of Pickard's solo designs. He has consistently employed broad strokes — typically long, sweeping arcs — but upon closer inspection, his "big" and modern gestures are held together by finely crafted metal and glass components often serving as window, wall and screen all at once.

Speaking of broad strokes, the building's size exploits a commodity many long-term Atlantans (officially those living here for more than five years) will quickly notice — the sky. In fact, the openness of Midtown may soon be the stuff of history. Much of the visual expanse associated with the arts district must credit Henri Jova's design for Colony Square. Jova's arrangement of the towers on angle with Peachtree eliminated the canyonlike character of most urban districts, and in Midtown's case, influenced all other development to follow.

Symphony Center's design, however, had to maximize a narrow site, and its positioning is more akin to the keel of a sailing ship. Artfully, the building's scalloped rear pavilion appears to cut a wake through the flow of traffic on 14th Street. Although the long profile and sweeping glass curtain wall of the tower may not resemble other "crowns" in the city's skyline, Pickard's gesture will likely complement the typically fluid forms of Santiago Calatrava's adjacent symphony hall. One can only assume, since the ASO has been consistently and cautiously tight-lipped about the project's development.

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Article

Thursday June 10, 2004 12:04 am EDT
Symphony Center tower rises on Peachtree Street | more...
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  string(5443) "In the 15 years since Atlanta last assessed its historic properties, a great deal has changed. The product of the 1987 survey, a publication titled Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks, is currently out-of-print and sorely out-of-date. The survey documented only a couple hundred buildings and just a handful of historic districts, but according to conservative estimates, those numbers easily could have doubled since then.As more citizens campaign for the protection of their historic neighborhoods and business districts, the need becomes clear for a more comprehensive survey that would examine the city as a whole and identify broad patterns of historical development. And so was born the Comprehensive Historic Resource Survey.

Begun in 2000, the project is organized by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. Aided by a large advisory committee of local architects, historians, neighborhood leaders and other professionals, the group has followed recent initiatives in other American cities to develop guidelines for documentation. It will eventually consider a system for making the information available to the public.

Careful planning for the survey is crucial.  A database is only as good as the information it contains, so the real task will be completing the documentation before the information is out  of date.

A survey is a paradoxical beast. On one hand, like the notorious seven-year bachelor degree, a survey never wants to be completed and must continue as a "work in progress." On the other hand, the inventory data must be routinely synthesized. Practice has shown that attempting to piecemeal data from separate small-range surveys is not cost-effective for city planning and hinders "smart" development. Furthermore, a survey is a record of the city's history and as such should present as complete a picture as possible, otherwise it doesn't contribute to our understanding and recognition of the community as a whole.

Although a figure hasn't been offered by the Urban Design Commission, the number of historic designations on an Atlanta map would suggest that barely 13 percent of the city has been sufficiently surveyed to date. Currently, outlying neighborhoods in West End and southwest Atlanta have not been thoroughly researched, in addition to many other neighborhoods whose histories are being lost to redevelopment and shifting populations.

According to Doug Young, historic preservation planner for the Atlanta Urban Design Commission and project manager for the Comprehensive Historic Research Survey, a reconnaissance level survey will be a priority for previously unsurveyed areas. As Young says of this early stage, "We're in a dry fact-gathering mode."

Today, Atlantans have generally gotten the message concerning historic preservation. Most would agree, that, yes, it's a good thing the Fox Theatre wasn't razed. But not all historic buildings are exquisite movie palaces, just as all history is not necessarily "pretty." Surveys are susceptible to a certain sterilization of urban history, whether by neglecting poorer neighborhoods or omitting controversial events. For example, as the scope of historic significance reaches into the '50s, we see beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, but also the emergence of the city's now-burgeoning sex industry. During this time there is a growing community of underground gay establishments and, conversely, the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan. To use Young's words, what happens when the facts concerning the history of buildings aren't so "dry?"

Fortunately, citizens in previous decades worked hard to retain the Cabbagetown and Martin Luther King Jr. historic districts. These were marginalized communities, and as such were more likely to have their histories lost rather than preserved. Through survey work, these environments were documented and paired to the historic events that took place there. Admittedly, a survey should not change its focus to uncover all the ghosts that haunt a building or site, but in light of the unique events and people that are invariably attached to places, the commitment to an unbiased assessment of Atlanta's historic resources cannot be overstressed. The status of historic architecture is not exclusive to the works of Atlanta's favorite boys Walter Downing, Neel Reid and Philip Shutze.

The Urban Design Commission is mandated by a 1989 city ordinance to compile this information, but whether the survey will live up to its "comprehensive" title remains to be seen. The 1987 survey identified an additional 85 buildings and 16 districts not recognized in the preceding roster, completed in 1981. Unfortunately, a number of buildings had been demolished since then, resulting in a net decrease in historic properties. This circumstance is inevitable, but with increased public awareness and involvement, at least the rate of senseless speculative demolition can be controlled. Amid these losses, I guess we could thank the developers at Stone Mountain, who just christened a brand-new historic district called The Crossroads. Transported from the 1870s (conveniently selected after the Civil War), this rural village has been brought to Atlanta, complete with "authentic" townsfolk who spend all day making candles and peanut brittle.

Isn't that history stuff great?

For information on the Urban  Design Commission's Comprehensive  Historic Resource Survey, visit www.ci.atlanta.ga.us/citydir/URBAN/Urban.htm."
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  string(5510) "__In the 15 years __since Atlanta last assessed its historic properties, a great deal has changed. The product of the 1987 survey, a publication titled ''Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks'', is currently out-of-print and sorely out-of-date. The survey documented only a couple hundred buildings and just a handful of historic districts, but according to conservative estimates, those numbers easily could have doubled since then.As more citizens campaign for the protection of their historic neighborhoods and business districts, the need becomes clear for a more comprehensive survey that would examine the city as a whole and identify broad patterns of historical development. And so was born the Comprehensive Historic Resource Survey.

Begun in 2000, the project is organized by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission. Aided by a large advisory committee of local architects, historians, neighborhood leaders and other professionals, the group has followed recent initiatives in other American cities to develop guidelines for documentation. It will eventually consider a system for making the information available to the public.

Careful planning for the survey is crucial.  A database is only as good as the information it contains, so the real task will be completing the documentation before the information is out  of date.

A survey is a paradoxical beast. On one hand, like the notorious seven-year bachelor degree, a survey never wants to be completed and must continue as a "work in progress." On the other hand, the inventory data must be routinely synthesized. Practice has shown that attempting to piecemeal data from separate small-range surveys is not cost-effective for city planning and hinders "smart" development. Furthermore, a survey is a record of the city's history and as such should present as complete a picture as possible, otherwise it doesn't contribute to our understanding and recognition of the community as a whole.

Although a figure hasn't been offered by the Urban Design Commission, the number of historic designations on an Atlanta map would suggest that barely 13 percent of the city has been sufficiently surveyed to date. Currently, outlying neighborhoods in West End and southwest Atlanta have not been thoroughly researched, in addition to many other neighborhoods whose histories are being lost to redevelopment and shifting populations.

According to Doug Young, historic preservation planner for the Atlanta Urban Design Commission and project manager for the Comprehensive Historic Research Survey, a reconnaissance level survey will be a priority for previously unsurveyed areas. As Young says of this early stage, "We're in a dry fact-gathering mode."

Today, Atlantans have generally gotten the message concerning historic preservation. Most would agree, that, yes, it's a good thing the Fox Theatre wasn't razed. But not all historic buildings are exquisite movie palaces, just as all history is not necessarily "pretty." Surveys are susceptible to a certain sterilization of urban history, whether by neglecting poorer neighborhoods or omitting controversial events. For example, as the scope of historic significance reaches into the '50s, we see beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, but also the emergence of the city's now-burgeoning sex industry. During this time there is a growing community of underground gay establishments and, conversely, the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan. To use Young's words, what happens when the facts concerning the history of buildings aren't so "dry?"

Fortunately, citizens in previous decades worked hard to retain the Cabbagetown and Martin Luther King Jr. historic districts. These were marginalized communities, and as such were more likely to have their histories lost rather than preserved. Through survey work, these environments were documented and paired to the historic events that took place there. Admittedly, a survey should not change its focus to uncover all the ghosts that haunt a building or site, but in light of the unique events and people that are invariably attached to places, the commitment to an unbiased assessment of Atlanta's historic resources cannot be overstressed. The status of historic architecture is not exclusive to the works of Atlanta's favorite boys Walter Downing, Neel Reid and Philip Shutze.

The Urban Design Commission is mandated by a 1989 city ordinance to compile this information, but whether the survey will live up to its "comprehensive" title remains to be seen. The 1987 survey identified an additional 85 buildings and 16 districts not recognized in the preceding roster, completed in 1981. Unfortunately, a number of buildings had been demolished since then, resulting in a net decrease in historic properties. This circumstance is inevitable, but with increased public awareness and involvement, at least the rate of senseless speculative demolition can be controlled. Amid these losses, I guess we could thank the developers at Stone Mountain, who just christened a brand-new historic district called The Crossroads. Transported from the 1870s (conveniently selected after the Civil War), this rural village has been brought to Atlanta, complete with "authentic" townsfolk who spend all day making candles and peanut brittle.

Isn't that history stuff great?

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A survey is a paradoxical beast. On one hand, like the notorious seven-year bachelor degree, a survey never wants to be completed and must continue as a "work in progress." On the other hand, the inventory data must be routinely synthesized. Practice has shown that attempting to piecemeal data from separate small-range surveys is not cost-effective for city planning and hinders "smart" development. Furthermore, a survey is a record of the city's history and as such should present as complete a picture as possible, otherwise it doesn't contribute to our understanding and recognition of the community as a whole.

Although a figure hasn't been offered by the Urban Design Commission, the number of historic designations on an Atlanta map would suggest that barely 13 percent of the city has been sufficiently surveyed to date. Currently, outlying neighborhoods in West End and southwest Atlanta have not been thoroughly researched, in addition to many other neighborhoods whose histories are being lost to redevelopment and shifting populations.

According to Doug Young, historic preservation planner for the Atlanta Urban Design Commission and project manager for the Comprehensive Historic Research Survey, a reconnaissance level survey will be a priority for previously unsurveyed areas. As Young says of this early stage, "We're in a dry fact-gathering mode."

Today, Atlantans have generally gotten the message concerning historic preservation. Most would agree, that, yes, it's a good thing the Fox Theatre wasn't razed. But not all historic buildings are exquisite movie palaces, just as all history is not necessarily "pretty." Surveys are susceptible to a certain sterilization of urban history, whether by neglecting poorer neighborhoods or omitting controversial events. For example, as the scope of historic significance reaches into the '50s, we see beginnings of the Civil Rights movement, but also the emergence of the city's now-burgeoning sex industry. During this time there is a growing community of underground gay establishments and, conversely, the reorganization of the Ku Klux Klan. To use Young's words, what happens when the facts concerning the history of buildings aren't so "dry?"

Fortunately, citizens in previous decades worked hard to retain the Cabbagetown and Martin Luther King Jr. historic districts. These were marginalized communities, and as such were more likely to have their histories lost rather than preserved. Through survey work, these environments were documented and paired to the historic events that took place there. Admittedly, a survey should not change its focus to uncover all the ghosts that haunt a building or site, but in light of the unique events and people that are invariably attached to places, the commitment to an unbiased assessment of Atlanta's historic resources cannot be overstressed. The status of historic architecture is not exclusive to the works of Atlanta's favorite boys Walter Downing, Neel Reid and Philip Shutze.

The Urban Design Commission is mandated by a 1989 city ordinance to compile this information, but whether the survey will live up to its "comprehensive" title remains to be seen. The 1987 survey identified an additional 85 buildings and 16 districts not recognized in the preceding roster, completed in 1981. Unfortunately, a number of buildings had been demolished since then, resulting in a net decrease in historic properties. This circumstance is inevitable, but with increased public awareness and involvement, at least the rate of senseless speculative demolition can be controlled. Amid these losses, I guess we could thank the developers at Stone Mountain, who just christened a brand-new historic district called The Crossroads. Transported from the 1870s (conveniently selected after the Civil War), this rural village has been brought to Atlanta, complete with "authentic" townsfolk who spend all day making candles and peanut brittle.

Isn't that history stuff great?

For information on the Urban  Design Commission's Comprehensive  Historic Resource Survey, visit www.ci.atlanta.ga.us/citydir/URBAN/Urban.htm.         100 Year Old Home to be Razed in Marietta    13008859 1237916                          Your history at stake "
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Wednesday August 7, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Survey takes stock of Atlanta's historic sites and buildings | more...
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"I've always loved this building," Renzo Piano said of Richard Meier's High Museum. Last week, the Italian architect, along with representatives of the High Museum and Woodruff Arts Center,  presented the latest plans for the institution's expansion, which will be complete in spring 2005.

Facing the difficult task of expanding on Meier's signature work, Piano has created a design comprised of a largely insular arrangement of outdoor spaces that retreat from the Peachtree Street corridor toward the rear of the Art Center's site, along Lombardy Way.

The High Museum, completed in 1983, visually identified Meier as the leading American Postmodernist. Exquisitely constructed, Meier's pristine porcelain form identified the museum as not only the house of the collection, but a part of the collection itself.

Piano's scheme however, does not compete with Meier's "object in the field." In fact, it exerts itself less as a building and more as an infill of the site. Extending from the High's posterior, the expansion grips 16th street, and then wraps around the back of the site along Lombardy. This L-configuration (which necessitates demolishing the College of Art's existing dormitory) contains two new exhibition structures, an administrative wing and facilities for the college, all connected by a series of transparent corridors. The hyphenated character of the expansion begins with its connection to the High — a glass bridge projecting from the rear of the current museum's lobby.

"When you want urbanity, you build on the edge, you build on the street," Piano said during his presentation. But in essence, Piano is more concerned with his own sense of urbanity, far different from Midtown's unanimated street scene. Removed from the street are two outdoor spaces, "piazzas" imported from the architect's native Italy and intended to be animated by outdoor sculpture and a new restaurant. The fragmentary-nature of the buildings, whose profiles resemble the contours of a stone quarry, form the thresholds of these large outdoor rooms. From Lombardy Street, a series of alley-like stairs, reminiscent of an Italian hill town, accommodate the 15-foot transition to the piazza level.

So while Meier flaunted the object, Piano's plan celebrates the void, allowing Meier's building to continue its most successful role — attracting attention with its enigmatic form.

The resulting interplay of inside and outside spaces, while well suited for Atlanta's hospitable climate, is most successful for directing pedestrians deeper into Midtown's urban fabric. If you've never wanted to take a stroll on West Peachtree, it's probably because a pleasant walking experience is discouraged by the backside of buildings. Although much of the city's prior development rarely broke ground east or west of Peachtree Street, the compaction of the High's project toward the western edge of its site encourages a density already supported by a recent wave of construction. Presently, the Midtown zone between 10th and 15th streets, with its mix of spaces for live, work and play, demonstrates the most successful widening of Atlanta's urban core.

While his approach to urban place-making may be Italian in character, Piano's sensitivity to the locale of his projects has greatly developed over the nearly four decades of his career. As one compares his early collaboration with Richard Rogers on the Centres Pompidou (completed in 1976) to the celebrated Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia (completed in 1998), an ideological evolution becomes clear. Piano has distinguished himself from the often-severe designs of the "High Tech" movement and today demonstrates a capacity for unifying technology and design not merely for its own sake, but rather in the service of culture.

If you're looking for eye-candy, wait until they tear down the Memorial Arts Building.

For more information on the High Museum expansion, visit www.buildingthehigh.org.??


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__"I've always loved __this building," Renzo Piano said of Richard Meier's High Museum. Last week, the Italian architect, along with representatives of the High Museum and Woodruff Arts Center,  presented the latest plans for the institution's expansion, which will be complete in spring 2005.

Facing the difficult task of expanding on Meier's signature work, Piano has created a design comprised of a largely insular arrangement of outdoor spaces that retreat from the Peachtree Street corridor toward the rear of the Art Center's site, along Lombardy Way.

The High Museum, completed in 1983, visually identified Meier as the leading American Postmodernist. Exquisitely constructed, Meier's pristine porcelain form identified the museum as not only the house of the collection, but a part of the collection itself.

Piano's scheme however, does not compete with Meier's "object in the field." In fact, it exerts itself less as a building and more as an infill of the site. Extending from the High's posterior, the expansion grips 16th street, and then wraps around the back of the site along Lombardy. This L-configuration (which necessitates demolishing the College of Art's existing dormitory) contains two new exhibition structures, an administrative wing and facilities for the college, all connected by a series of transparent corridors. The hyphenated character of the expansion begins with its connection to the High -- a glass bridge projecting from the rear of the current museum's lobby.

"When you want urbanity, you build on the edge, you build on the street," Piano said during his presentation. But in essence, Piano is more concerned with his own sense of urbanity, far different from Midtown's unanimated street scene. Removed from the street are two outdoor spaces, "piazzas" imported from the architect's native Italy and intended to be animated by outdoor sculpture and a new restaurant. The fragmentary-nature of the buildings, whose profiles resemble the contours of a stone quarry, form the thresholds of these large outdoor rooms. From Lombardy Street, a series of alley-like stairs, reminiscent of an Italian hill town, accommodate the 15-foot transition to the piazza level.

So while Meier flaunted the object, Piano's plan celebrates the void, allowing Meier's building to continue its most successful role -- attracting attention with its enigmatic form.

The resulting interplay of inside and outside spaces, while well suited for Atlanta's hospitable climate, is most successful for directing pedestrians deeper into Midtown's urban fabric. If you've never wanted to take a stroll on West Peachtree, it's probably because a pleasant walking experience is discouraged by the backside of buildings. Although much of the city's prior development rarely broke ground east or west of Peachtree Street, the compaction of the High's project toward the western edge of its site encourages a density already supported by a recent wave of construction. Presently, the Midtown zone between 10th and 15th streets, with its mix of spaces for live, work and play, demonstrates the most successful widening of Atlanta's urban core.

While his approach to urban place-making may be Italian in character, Piano's sensitivity to the locale of his projects has greatly developed over the nearly four decades of his career. As one compares his early collaboration with Richard Rogers on the Centres Pompidou (completed in 1976) to the celebrated Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia (completed in 1998), an ideological evolution becomes clear. Piano has distinguished himself from the often-severe designs of the "High Tech" movement and today demonstrates a capacity for unifying technology and design not merely for its own sake, but rather in the service of culture.

If you're looking for eye-candy, wait until they tear down the Memorial Arts Building.

''For more information on the High Museum expansion, visit www.buildingthehigh.org.''??


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"I've always loved this building," Renzo Piano said of Richard Meier's High Museum. Last week, the Italian architect, along with representatives of the High Museum and Woodruff Arts Center,  presented the latest plans for the institution's expansion, which will be complete in spring 2005.

Facing the difficult task of expanding on Meier's signature work, Piano has created a design comprised of a largely insular arrangement of outdoor spaces that retreat from the Peachtree Street corridor toward the rear of the Art Center's site, along Lombardy Way.

The High Museum, completed in 1983, visually identified Meier as the leading American Postmodernist. Exquisitely constructed, Meier's pristine porcelain form identified the museum as not only the house of the collection, but a part of the collection itself.

Piano's scheme however, does not compete with Meier's "object in the field." In fact, it exerts itself less as a building and more as an infill of the site. Extending from the High's posterior, the expansion grips 16th street, and then wraps around the back of the site along Lombardy. This L-configuration (which necessitates demolishing the College of Art's existing dormitory) contains two new exhibition structures, an administrative wing and facilities for the college, all connected by a series of transparent corridors. The hyphenated character of the expansion begins with its connection to the High — a glass bridge projecting from the rear of the current museum's lobby.

"When you want urbanity, you build on the edge, you build on the street," Piano said during his presentation. But in essence, Piano is more concerned with his own sense of urbanity, far different from Midtown's unanimated street scene. Removed from the street are two outdoor spaces, "piazzas" imported from the architect's native Italy and intended to be animated by outdoor sculpture and a new restaurant. The fragmentary-nature of the buildings, whose profiles resemble the contours of a stone quarry, form the thresholds of these large outdoor rooms. From Lombardy Street, a series of alley-like stairs, reminiscent of an Italian hill town, accommodate the 15-foot transition to the piazza level.

So while Meier flaunted the object, Piano's plan celebrates the void, allowing Meier's building to continue its most successful role — attracting attention with its enigmatic form.

The resulting interplay of inside and outside spaces, while well suited for Atlanta's hospitable climate, is most successful for directing pedestrians deeper into Midtown's urban fabric. If you've never wanted to take a stroll on West Peachtree, it's probably because a pleasant walking experience is discouraged by the backside of buildings. Although much of the city's prior development rarely broke ground east or west of Peachtree Street, the compaction of the High's project toward the western edge of its site encourages a density already supported by a recent wave of construction. Presently, the Midtown zone between 10th and 15th streets, with its mix of spaces for live, work and play, demonstrates the most successful widening of Atlanta's urban core.

While his approach to urban place-making may be Italian in character, Piano's sensitivity to the locale of his projects has greatly developed over the nearly four decades of his career. As one compares his early collaboration with Richard Rogers on the Centres Pompidou (completed in 1976) to the celebrated Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Center in New Caledonia (completed in 1998), an ideological evolution becomes clear. Piano has distinguished himself from the often-severe designs of the "High Tech" movement and today demonstrates a capacity for unifying technology and design not merely for its own sake, but rather in the service of culture.

If you're looking for eye-candy, wait until they tear down the Memorial Arts Building.

For more information on the High Museum expansion, visit www.buildingthehigh.org.??


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Woodruff's expansion exercises restraint, reinforces presence | more...
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  string(4866) "In a city that has trouble supporting the arts, the destruction of notable pieces of architecture is not surprising. Peachtree Street has endured much of this loss in its constant re-invention as the city's "premier" thoroughfare. With the demolition last week of the Atlanta Cabana, so ends another chapter in the street's irrepressible and historic development.

Located on the corner of Peachtree and 7th streets, the Cabana was the first of many flashy hotels developed by casino-mogul Jay Sarno. While working as a tile contractor in Miami, Sarno befriended Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. In 1958, after pitching Hoffa a concept for a motor lodge, Sarno and lifetime business partner Stanley Mallin received the first loan ever granted from the Teamsters' often-maligned Central States Pension Fund.

Early on, Sarno enlisted Georgia Tech architecture grad Jo Harris. Initially the object of Sarno's flirtations, Harris demonstrated her skill as an interior designer and helped the developer realize his vision of rococo modernism. Together they adorned the Cabana's 200-room complex with fountains, statues and mirrors. At ground level, a curvilinear flow of lounge, restaurant and ballrooms flanked the motor court and pool, while a modern  "L-configuration" of balconies allowed for numerous viewing opportunities of guests and passersby.

Their design was clearly  influenced by the Miami hotels of architect Morris Lapidus in the early '50s. His Fontainebleu  and Eden Roc were the best examples of an emerging American architectural jeu de vivre, whereby European Modernism, stripped of its social responsibility, started to have some fun.

Decorated extensively with tile (an obvious passion of Sarno's), the Cabana incorporated the eye-candy qualities of mid-century strip design — notably large forms and bright colors. A monolithic seven-story turquoise tile wall faced Peachtree announcing, "I am here," and perfectly served as a billboard for the car culture redefining Peachtree in the 1950s.

By contemporary standards, the Atlanta Cabana was pure kitsch, but for the middle-class occupant of that era, a night at  the Cabana offered exciting opulence. Although never to be mistaken for Route 66, Atlanta's advancement north along Peachtree transformed an avenue of stately homes and churches to a strip of modern commerce and entertainment. No longer the  exclusive address of formality, old money or blue hair, here on display was a youthful Americana.

Following the Atlanta Cabana's success, Doris Day teamed with Sarno to build additional Cabanas in California and Texas. There were plans for more, until Sarno had an epiphany during a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

With another loan from the Teamsters' pension fund (a prime lender to Las Vegas casinos during this era), Sarno and company opened Caesars Palace in 1966, and as many have written, the fantasy resort was born. Sarno managed the property during the peak years of Vegas until the late '80s when his success began to wane. A one-time king of the strip, Sarno spent most of his final years playing at the Caesars blackjack tables. He died in 1984, in one of his own hotel rooms.

In recent decades, the Atlanta Cabana lost most of its luster. During its last carnation as a Quality Inn, an architecturally unsympathetic "rejuvenation"  covered the exotic tile work in  plaster and adapted the swinging lounges for serving continental breakfast. Clearly, the celebrity appeal had been lost. A recent plan by Midtown developers George Rohrig and Charles Loudermilk to refashion the Cabana as a boutique hotel was not successful.

A trip to the demolition site a few weeks ago revealed many of the Cabana's original finishes, hidden for years behind masks of gypsum and carpet. Scattered were the remains of filigreed concrete screen block, outlining an enormous grid of canary yellow terrazzo that covered the lobby floor. A bulldozer rested on a sidewalk of blue-green tile; in the background a waffle pattern of intricate relief tiles are newly exposed behind furring strips and floral wallpaper. In many ways, these layers of building materials characterize the history of Peachtree, the prosperous post-war years leading to a decline highlighted by the infamous hippie squatters of the late '60s.

Many preservationists are  grappling with the fact that some  of the building projects that were opposed 50 years ago may now be considered historic — and for good cause. Proponents of the Cabana's demolition might argue that its  construction probably replaced some older gem of a building — but if the wholesale practice of tabula rasa is legitimized, Peachtree's vibrant past will be completely erased. Ironically, at a time when the nuances of mid-century design are re-inspiring art, architecture and fashion, Atlanta has lost an example of the real thing.??


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Located on the corner of Peachtree and 7th streets, the Cabana was the first of many flashy hotels developed by casino-mogul Jay Sarno. While working as a tile contractor in Miami, Sarno befriended Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. In 1958, after pitching Hoffa a concept for a motor lodge, Sarno and lifetime business partner Stanley Mallin received the first loan ever granted from the Teamsters' often-maligned Central States Pension Fund.

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Their design was clearly  influenced by the Miami hotels of architect Morris Lapidus in the early '50s. His Fontainebleu  and Eden Roc were the best examples of an emerging American architectural ''jeu de vivre,'' whereby European Modernism, stripped of its social responsibility, started to have some fun.

Decorated extensively with tile (an obvious passion of Sarno's), the Cabana incorporated the eye-candy qualities of mid-century strip design -- notably large forms and bright colors. A monolithic seven-story turquoise tile wall faced Peachtree announcing, "I am here," and perfectly served as a billboard for the car culture redefining Peachtree in the 1950s.

By contemporary standards, the Atlanta Cabana was pure kitsch, but for the middle-class occupant of that era, a night at  the Cabana offered exciting opulence. Although never to be mistaken for Route 66, Atlanta's advancement north along Peachtree transformed an avenue of stately homes and churches to a strip of modern commerce and entertainment. No longer the  exclusive address of formality, old money or blue hair, here on display was a youthful Americana.

Following the Atlanta Cabana's success, Doris Day teamed with Sarno to build additional Cabanas in California and Texas. There were plans for more, until Sarno had an epiphany during a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

With another loan from the Teamsters' pension fund (a prime lender to Las Vegas casinos during this era), Sarno and company opened Caesars Palace in 1966, and as many have written, the fantasy resort was born. Sarno managed the property during the peak years of Vegas until the late '80s when his success began to wane. A one-time king of the strip, Sarno spent most of his final years playing at the Caesars blackjack tables. He died in 1984, in one of his own hotel rooms.

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Located on the corner of Peachtree and 7th streets, the Cabana was the first of many flashy hotels developed by casino-mogul Jay Sarno. While working as a tile contractor in Miami, Sarno befriended Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. In 1958, after pitching Hoffa a concept for a motor lodge, Sarno and lifetime business partner Stanley Mallin received the first loan ever granted from the Teamsters' often-maligned Central States Pension Fund.

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Their design was clearly  influenced by the Miami hotels of architect Morris Lapidus in the early '50s. His Fontainebleu  and Eden Roc were the best examples of an emerging American architectural jeu de vivre, whereby European Modernism, stripped of its social responsibility, started to have some fun.

Decorated extensively with tile (an obvious passion of Sarno's), the Cabana incorporated the eye-candy qualities of mid-century strip design — notably large forms and bright colors. A monolithic seven-story turquoise tile wall faced Peachtree announcing, "I am here," and perfectly served as a billboard for the car culture redefining Peachtree in the 1950s.

By contemporary standards, the Atlanta Cabana was pure kitsch, but for the middle-class occupant of that era, a night at  the Cabana offered exciting opulence. Although never to be mistaken for Route 66, Atlanta's advancement north along Peachtree transformed an avenue of stately homes and churches to a strip of modern commerce and entertainment. No longer the  exclusive address of formality, old money or blue hair, here on display was a youthful Americana.

Following the Atlanta Cabana's success, Doris Day teamed with Sarno to build additional Cabanas in California and Texas. There were plans for more, until Sarno had an epiphany during a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

With another loan from the Teamsters' pension fund (a prime lender to Las Vegas casinos during this era), Sarno and company opened Caesars Palace in 1966, and as many have written, the fantasy resort was born. Sarno managed the property during the peak years of Vegas until the late '80s when his success began to wane. A one-time king of the strip, Sarno spent most of his final years playing at the Caesars blackjack tables. He died in 1984, in one of his own hotel rooms.

In recent decades, the Atlanta Cabana lost most of its luster. During its last carnation as a Quality Inn, an architecturally unsympathetic "rejuvenation"  covered the exotic tile work in  plaster and adapted the swinging lounges for serving continental breakfast. Clearly, the celebrity appeal had been lost. A recent plan by Midtown developers George Rohrig and Charles Loudermilk to refashion the Cabana as a boutique hotel was not successful.

A trip to the demolition site a few weeks ago revealed many of the Cabana's original finishes, hidden for years behind masks of gypsum and carpet. Scattered were the remains of filigreed concrete screen block, outlining an enormous grid of canary yellow terrazzo that covered the lobby floor. A bulldozer rested on a sidewalk of blue-green tile; in the background a waffle pattern of intricate relief tiles are newly exposed behind furring strips and floral wallpaper. In many ways, these layers of building materials characterize the history of Peachtree, the prosperous post-war years leading to a decline highlighted by the infamous hippie squatters of the late '60s.

Many preservationists are  grappling with the fact that some  of the building projects that were opposed 50 years ago may now be considered historic — and for good cause. Proponents of the Cabana's demolition might argue that its  construction probably replaced some older gem of a building — but if the wholesale practice of tabula rasa is legitimized, Peachtree's vibrant past will be completely erased. Ironically, at a time when the nuances of mid-century design are re-inspiring art, architecture and fashion, Atlanta has lost an example of the real thing.??


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Article

Wednesday April 17, 2002 12:04 am EDT
Once a symbol of modern glamour, the Atlanta Cabana is no more | more...
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