Fulton County Votes To Not Demolish Central Library

Atlanta’s Central Library downtown will be getting an upgrade.

After many months of public debate on whether to build a new library or renovate the existing one, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday not to tear down the building.

The Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library system will now select an architecture firm to work with it on designing the renovated spaces and coming up with the actual cost.

The current proposal calls for $40 to $55 million for the project. The county hopes to renovate about five of the floors and make a “nominal investment” on the other four floors so it can potentially lease out space. 

Another $35 to $50 million would go towards renovation projects at the remaining 15 branches in the Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library system.

Commissioner Marvin Arrington called for adding an arts center inside the Central library.

Downtown Atlanta resident and architect Kyle Kessler said he thinks there’s lots of space sitting empty now and potential to improve the existing facility. He said it’s nice to hear proposals of partnerships with Georgia State University’s art department, Woodruff Arts Center or Fulton County’s Arts & Culture department.

“We just need to make sure that the library still functions fully as a library and then whatever other space is available that can enhance the library’s mission, fantastic,” Kessler said.

The Atlanta-Fulton Central Library first opened in 1980 and was designed by world-renowned Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer.

At their next meeting on Aug. 3, Fulton County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the amount the county will allocate for the renovation.