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Central Atlanta Library to host dazzling light show spotlighting architecture

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While undergoing a $50 million revamp, the library will flaunt an art installation to illustrate German-American bond, too

a photo/rendering of the building during the event
The Brutalist library, according to preservationists, is plenty pretty, even without a light show.
Photos: 360 Media, Inc.

Is downtown Atlanta’s beast of a Brutalist public library beautiful or jarringly cold?

That depends on whom you ask.

Historical preservationists would tell you the hulking bookhouse, the last project designed by famed Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer, is a gorgeous hunk of concrete towering over Forsyth and Williams streets, just north of Woodruff Park, that needs to be protected.

But others—think developers planning a new twist on the 1980s-designed block of a library—believe Breuer’s building is due for some updates. Plans for new windows, among other changes drawn up by architecture firm Cooper Carry as part of a $50 million revamp, have caught the ire of Atlanta’s design community.

In the meantime, the building is in store for a dazzling (albeit temporary) new look.

The late architect’s Bauhaus movement-inspired minimalist design is primed to host a fresh look at Atlanta culture, thanks to Germany-based artist collective URBANSCREEN.

A photo of Atlanta Central Library from Forsyth and Carnegie streets.
The library, a prominent icon downtown, as it appears today.
Curbed Atlanta

The group, starting on the evening of October 5, will produce a light show of sorts, dubbed “Superposition,” at the iconic, under-renovation building. But attractions don’t end there.

The plan represents a series of exhibits emphasizing “Light-art meets German architecture,” a press release says.

The Atlanta event is a “street festival” that will flaunt the “driving beats of hip-hop and experimental music that embody Atlanta’s thriving music scene.”

“URBANSCREEN’s bold artistic exploration of the German-American relationship integrates architecture with digital art, dance, and music to unite several universal languages that transcend geographical definitions,” per the release.

Attendees can also look forward to genuine local—and mobile—beer gardens, replete with food stuffs from Atlanta food trucks.

Local bars, such as Edgewood Avenue’s Georgia Beer Garden, intend to feature the German group’s nod to intown hotspots, by hosting its food trucks on-site.

Johnny Martinez, co-founder of the Georgia Beer Garden, told Curbed Atlanta the bar is amped to host one of the food and beer trucks.

“We jumped at the chance to work with the Goethe-Institut (a center for the nation’s culture) and help out with the ‘Wiesn in a Box,’” a food-truck concept slated for the event, he said.

“People forget Atlanta’s largest breweries before prohibition were founded by German immigrants,” Martinez continued.

It’s part of a larger project spotlighting three iconic structures in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Indianapolis, all related to the theme of German-American relations.

“From dazzling light shows to digital artwork projections, these installations will merge multiple intersecting art forms, encouraging American audiences to take a closer look at how German architecture in the United States reflects the relationship between these two nations,” per the press release.