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Exterior work begins on downtown's iconic Central Atlanta Library

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Windows are soon to be chiseled into the last design by famed Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer

A rendering of Cooper Carry’s design shows the windows cut into the side hulking concrete structure.
A rendering of Cooper Carry’s design shows the windows cut into the side of the library
Cooper Carry

The last design by famed Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer is soon to have new windows carved into its facade.

The changes are part of Central Atlanta Library's $50 million restoration, parts of which have prompted uproar from the historic preservation community.

Earlier this week, exterior demolition work began at the library, which has been closed for renovations since July 2018, according to Friends of the Central Atlanta Library (FOCAL), an advocacy group that was instrumental in saving the structure from the wrecking ball in 2016.

“We’re currently installing windows on the Williams Street side of the building and will continue to move around the building as we obtain permits for street closures,” Claudia Strange, a spokeswoman for the library system, tells Curbed Atlanta.

The library, which opened in 1980, has been undergoing needed interior repairs and upgrades since last summer. But changing Breuer’s historic facade has been a point of contention since architecture firm Cooper Carry proposed cutting holes into the building to make way for the windows.

The partial exterior demolition of the National Register-listed Central Library has begun.

Posted by FOCAL - Friends of the Central Atlanta Library on Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Officials with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System insisted during community engagement efforts last year that patrons needed more natural light inside the hulking building, just north of downtown’s Woodruff Park.

A survey conducted by the library system showed that 72 percent of the more than 3,200 participants were interested in seeing more windows added to the building.

A picture of the beefy, grey concrete block of a library, surrounded on all sides by aging city streets.
The library, before construction fencing went up.
Google Maps

But, like many of the architects and preservationists who attended public meetings to voice contempt for plans to alter the iconic facade, Georgia Tech associate professor of architecture Sonit Bafna told Curbed last year the library was scrupulously designed to choreograph light movement to accentuate the building’s rough (and Brutalist) edges.

The renovations are slated to be complete by September 2020 at the earliest, Strange said.

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 brightened, updated interior.
Cooper Carry