The controversial renovation of downtown Atlanta’s landmark library will be more artful, at least from the inside.
Following a national call for art submissions, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners has approved two installations meant to enliven the visitor experience at Central Atlanta Library, the last completed work of celebrated Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer, a Bauhaus movement leader.
Valued at $247,00, the selected concepts are by Chicago’s Luftwerk and Rhode Island-based AREA C projects.
Both will be unveiled—alongside works from Fulton County artists who’ve earned regional and national acclaim, which are still being acquired—when the renovated library reopens in 2020, officials said this week. One percent of the library’s capital improvement budget was earmarked for adding public art to Breuer’s 1980 building.
Meanwhile, a construction team took over the closed Central Library in late 2018 and is working now to the prepare the structure for “large-scale changes ahead,” Alex Frankcombe, Fulton County’s public art manager, told Curbed Atlanta this week. All work is scheduled to wrap by next spring.
The hulking, blocky edifice at One Margaret Mitchell Square has been shuttered since July, in preparation for a $50 million revamp designed by architecture firm Cooper Carry.
The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System succeeded in its wishes to see more light-conducive windows incorporated into the redesign, which has drawn ire from Atlanta’s preservationist community, downtown residents, and Breuer adherents.
On the art front, Frankcombe said selected firms will be partnering soon with local library and Fulton County Arts and Culture officials to reach out to Atlanta communities and ensure their words and voices are included in the works.
Both will incorporate text generated by Atlantans, including writers and musicians.
The national call challenged artists to use themes of light and enlightenment—all while responding to the uniqueness of Breuer’s architecture.
Below are the first, tentative looks at what’s to come.
Luftwerk’s piece, titled Sparks of Thought, is designed to be a “colorful burst of light and thought” rising four stories through the Central Library’s light well.
Lit by chameleonic LED lights, the suspended sculpture will incorporate up to 300 mirrored discs, inscribed with text and arranged like tree leaves on an aluminum frame. It’ll be designed to shift at intervals to better capture light.
Frankcombe noted that, since these renderings were compiled, the design has become more tree-like, as viewed from the side, and suspended by six anchor points.
Called Of If and Like, AREA C projects’s work will gather thousands of phrases from writers based in Atlanta—all beginning with either “Of,” “If,” “And,” or “Like.”
Framed by a wooden wedge at the main library entrance wall, the display will use mirrored dichroic glass, viewable day and night from inside and outside the library’s lobby.
Artists will use custom software to quickly comb large archives and collections for a deep base of phrases. (Don’t worry, parents, a screening process will ensure it’s all family-friendly.)
Frankcombe said the scale of AREA C projects’s proposal has been amended since the below renderings were completed—the installation won’t cut through the wall to the other side now—but this gives a general idea.