Architect: Preserve Atlanta’s ‘Iconic’ Downtown Library

Courtesy of Carleton College

Listen to the interview with Michael Kahn.

The future of the Atlanta-Fulton Central Library may be in limbo.

Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts has called for a new, flashier building in its spot, which is located on Margaret Mitchell Square. While the chairwoman of the Library Board of Trustees, Stephanie Moody, said in a recent meeting that it should be replaced with a smaller downtown branch instead. 

Local architect Michael Kahn wants to see the massive concrete structure stay right where it is, and in a recent piece for ArtsAtl, he makes the case for preserving the central library.

Marcel Breuer, who designed the Brutalist-style library, was a Bauhaus-trained architect, and having such a famous architect design a building in Atlanta was unheard of at the time, Kahn said. 

“When it opened, it was heralded as an iconic addition to Atlanta,” Kahn said. 

He also pointed out that Atlanta tore down a downtown library once before, the Carnegie Library ─ a demolition which many regret today. 

“The Carnegie Library was a beautiful building, and it’s a shame that we tore it down, but classicism had fallen out of favor at the time and a new in vogue style was desired. And we’re seeing the exact same thing happen now, where currently Brutalism has fallen out of style, and currently we would like something new and flashy,” said Kahn. “It would be disheartening to discover that we’ve learned nothing from our past mistakes.”