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Central Atlanta Library primed to close in July for hotly disputed renovations

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But will developers cut holes into Marcel Breuer’s last design?

A rendering of Cooper Carry’s design shows the windows cut into the side hulking concrete structure.
To window, or not to window; that is the question.
Cooper Carry

The much-disputed renovation of downtown’s Central Atlanta Library is soon to be underway, and the fate of the building’s architecturally important facade is still largely uncertain.

At 6. p.m. July 1, the library, a hulking, Brutalist block designed by the late architect Marcel Breuer, will shutter to the public to prepare for construction, according to advocacy group Friends of Central Atlanta Library (FOCAL).

The library will undergo a $50 million revamp, led by architecture firm Cooper Carry. The proposed particulars of the renovations have drawn ire and controversy from Atlanta’s preservationist community.

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System has declared it wants to see more windows chiseled into the sides of the building. Patrons, system officials have said, need more natural light while they read and research.

But library and architecture advocates have countered that, saying they want the exterior—the last project Breuer designed before his death—to remain untouched while the guts of the building welcome a much-needed upgrade.

Much hell was raised during public meetings about the library’s redesign—so much, in fact, that activists forced the system’s hand and earned an additional community meeting after public input was supposed to be fully compiled.

But the clock is ticking for changes to be made to the library’s master plan.

A rendering of the redesigned ground floor of the library shows better, more artisitic lighting and a bright white coat of paint.
A rendering of the redesigned ground floor of the library.
Cooper Carry

“A request for proposals (RFP) for construction and engineering services is expected to be released by Fulton County in the coming days,” according to FOCAL’s Facebook page.

Renovations, project officials say, could take anywhere between 18 and 24 months. Some services of the library will be temporarily relocated to nearby locations.

Stay tuned.