Atlanta gets a bad rap as a cesspool of hum-drum architecture. Of cities who value their architecture, we'd surely do not rank among the top of the list, and a blah post-Recession design scene hasn't exactly helped, with glass-and-concrete-happy developers throwing up unimaginative high rises as we heave toward prosperity. Tired of the Vancouverisation of the Atlanta skyline, one local architect is calling on Atlantans to take note of architecture and architects in the city in hopes of fostering an environment conducive to good design. And with big new projects, high-profile openings and some national attention, Adam Toal of Smith Dalia Architects is feeling optimistic. "Now is our time to get (new projects) right," he writes in an Atlanta Business Chronicle column, "to get out of the sea of mediocrity and stand proudly beside our architectural partners through the nation and the world."
As far as architectural legacies, Atlanta does have a precedent of some pretty famous buildings. Despite the fact that we tore down our only Burnham and Root building (the Equitable Building – 1892), we still have a Flatiron building older than New York's. Homegrown architects have gained international fame, with John Portman shaping much of downtown before taking on China. And with the Georgia Tech College of Architecture churning out capable graduates — who've come up with ideas like Atlantic Station and the Beltline —there's no shortage of fresh talent either.
Despite our grumbling, it's not as though we don't have nice things now. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is holding its national convention in Atlanta this May. When tens of thousands of architects from around the world descend on the city with a critical eye, they will no doubt find a lot to engage with. They'll take tours of Freelon Group's National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Stanley Beaman Sears' Zuckerman Museum of Art, Surber Barber Choate Hertlein Architects' Ponce City Market and dozens more locations of note throughout the city.
Now for some preaching. And a question ...
With history of good design, people to execute the good design and growing capital (in many cases) with which to build good buildings, maybe we can all take a bit more time to appreciate architecture. Find a building in the city that you like, find out more about it and share it. Maybe by recognizing how important the built form is in our daily lives we can encourage developers to build better stuff. Before AIA Georgia recognizes the best of the state's architecture and architects for the year, we figured it'd be good to get a general idea of what Curbed readers think about the standout architecture in the city. So, what's your favorite Atlanta building?
· Atlanta architects: 'Now is our time'
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· Is Atlanta's Skyline Slowly Becoming Another Vancouver? [Curbed Atlanta]
· The Biggest Development Debuts of Atlanta's Epic 2014 [Curbed Atlanta]
· AIA Awards Suggest Local Talent is Building Stuff Elsewhere [Curbed Atlanta]