[Images via Georgia State University.]
In the last 10 years, Georgia State University has transformed much of downtown Atlanta from desolate hellscape to a (semi) lively area of town. While there's ongoing talk of GSU's ability to transform Turner Field and the surrounding neighborhoods in the future, in the short term there's still plenty to be done in the vicinity of Five Points. The latest plans, announced this week, call for a Creative Media Industries Institute to transform the former SunTrust Bank Building at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Park Place. The proposal, made possible by a $22.8 million grant from the Robert Woodruff Foundation, also includes enhanced streetscape and direct engagement with the adjacent plaza. The prominent location, bordered on two sides by the new Atlanta Streetcar line and across the street from Woodruff Park, is one of Atlanta's most storied corners.
Long before the stout, unassuming white box of a building occupied the site, a hulking beautiful old skyscraper, dripping with Beaux-Arts detailing, presided over the neighborhood. Not just any building, but Atlanta's first skyscraper, the Equitable Building, was erected at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Pryor Street (now Park Place) in 1892. Designed by the noted Chicago firm Burnham and Root — the dynamic duo in the book The Devil in the White City — it was the only known work completed by the Georgia native Root in his home state. Like many wonderful older buildings in Atlanta, the eight-story stone beaut succumbed to "progress" (some might call it a lack of taste) in 1971.
Not to bemoan that which is gone, the new lease on life for the drab replacement should provide opportunity for GSU students to tap into the dynamic music and movie scene in Atlanta. Along with other nearby GSU projects such as a new Law School building rising two blocks north on Park Place at John Wesley Dobbs Avenue, the area around Woodruff Park is getting a dramatic facelift. The revamped building is expected to open in 2016; at the rate delays keep compounding, it seems plausible it could beat the new streetcar to the task.
· Georgia State Announces New Media Production Center [Georgia State University]
· The Equitable Building of 1892 [History Atlanta]