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Atlanta: A Center for a Community

Overview

Atlanta is the capital city of the state of Georgia in the United States of America. Over the past few decades, it has become well known for its diverse culture and unique history, and its population has been rapidly growing ever since. Although, while the city has most definitely grown and evolved so much in recent years, there are still parts of the city left untouched and unused, like South Downtown.

In the early 20th century, the Historic Hotel Row was a street lined with popular hotels attractions in South Downtown. Every building followed a similar pattern: 3-4 stories tall, cubic in shape, large display windows on the ground floor, smaller ones on every floor above, and their exteriors often consisted of either a collage of red brick or a dull tan concrete. The Hotel Row was a booming attraction in Atlanta, although it soon fell into disrepair after the increased availability of automobiles in the ’20s and newer hotels being raised in North Atlanta at the same time, leaving the Hotel Row to become history.

A Postcard displaying the “Historic Hotel Row” in South Downtown Atlanta, GA.

After the Hotel Row became the Historic Hotel Row, the economy of South Downtown Atlanta had lost a major cog in its machine, and thus it’s no surprise that in the coming decades, many other residences and businesses would fall into disrepair as well. The final nail in the coffin came with the demolition of the Terminal Station, a train station whose passengers the Hotel Row originally meant to serve with its many businesses and residential buildings.

A photo of the current state of the “Historic Hotel Row” in South Downtown Atlanta, GA

Current South Downtown Atlanta is in need of change, and fast. For a place with such a rich history and significance to the city to fall into disrepair as it has is horrible and is a problem which is in dire need of a solution. Not only does the area have a deep and rich history, but it has so much potential for the future, as it’s located at the center of South Downtown and many key buildings in Atlanta, like the Mercedes Benz Stadium, the capitol building, and Georgia University surround it, and it is sandwiched in between two Marta train stations. It’s an area ready for renovation, and that’s where my solution comes in: a community center.

Why a Community Center?

For South Downtown Atlanta, a community center would be the perfect way to spark change, as bringing people of an area together and giving them a space to talk and actually get to know each other would form a much-needed community bond. A community would form the foundation of what would come in the future, and every structure needs its foundation before the rest can be built. Furthermore, not only would this center provide a much-needed sense of community in the area, but for those who are just passing through, it would give them a taste of the potential of the area, as renovating one of the Historic Hotel Row buildings and converting it into a community center would make it a true catalyst for change, as after it increases the number of people in the streets of South Downtown, passersby would see other people going in and out of the center every day, and it would thus spark a complete renovation of the area due to people seeing it as an economic opportunity, with others wanting to expand and establish their own buildings within the newly growing community.

Location

The building itself is located at the center of one of the many rows of hotels. It’s not a very large building for a community center, yet the size of the building is not imperative to this project, as this community center will not house an extremely diverse array of recreational activities (although there will be some) like others often do, as that’s not it’s intended purpose. To be exact, it’s located at 211 Mitchell Street SW Atlanta, GA, and has a square footage of 10920sqft throughout 3 floors.

Floor Plan

For this building, each of its three floors has a set of bathrooms and an area for an elevator, although other than those essentials, each floor serves a different purpose:

The first floor is a welcome center and workspace, the portion of the building meant for the people who visit the center to feel like they’re part of the community of South Downtown Atlanta, and also where they can learn more about the center and its purpose from the staff and other people who go there often.

The second floor is for relaxation of any kind, whether you’d like to eat at the cafĂ©, read in the comforting silence of the library, or come together with friends in the game room to play pool, table tennis, or choose from a wide assortment of board games. It also has a daycare, which is the perfect place for young children to do the same as their parents, as they can socialize and have fun with other children.

Finally, the third floor is for physical activity. While I said previously that this center would not have a wide array of physical activity options, I feel it makes sense to offer the basics in this center. The weight room would be equipped with all sorts of athletic equipment and machines fit for the facility. The recreational area would allow space for groups of people to exercise however they’d like in an open space. Finally, the locker rooms would allow for a private space for dressing and showering.

Also, there would be a skylight going through the center of the building, as to allow for more natural light due to the limited availability of windows because of the center’s immediate surroundings.

Exterior Model

The model pictured above and below displays the basic idea for what the exterior of the building will look like. As you can see, only the facade has been detailed due to the fact that the other three side faces of the building are too close to the center’s surrounding buildings. On the facade, there would be 4 pillars, with the two largest on the corners and the two smaller ones towards the center. Furthermore, there would be a long wooden strip going across the facade, as to highlight the modern touch the building has received, making it unique in comparison with its surroundings, yet not too different due to the stone and pillars bringing a sense of familiarity.

The first two floors have plenty of windows on the face of the building, but the third floor lacks any sort of window. This is due to the locker rooms, which require a significant amount of privacy for the users, so there are no windows on the third floor. On the interior, this is combatted by the skylight piercing through the center of the building, and on the exterior, it is combatted by the five rectangles which can be seen in the images to the in the images of the model, whose purpose is explained below.

As to live up to its own name, the South Downtown Community Center would have an aspect of its exterior which is fully dependent on the ideas of the community. The five rectangles above the second-floor windows would be used by the community for murals, paintings, images, or any other visual pieces, and they would be created entirely from the mind of the community. Furthermore, the imagery within the rectangles would be changed once every month, as to keep up activity in the community as well as keep the exterior looking new and fresh for years to come.

Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Cities and Communities: By forming stronger communal bonds within South Downtown Atlanta and building a place where people can come together to interact with one another and get to truly know the people around them, the community center would serve as a way for a group of people to come together in a safe and welcoming environment any day of the week.

Decent Work and Economic Growth: Building a community center and increasing the amount of people going in and out of the area would thus increase the economic interest in the area and cause more buildings in the area to be renovated, which would move in more businesses and residential buildings, and eventually, South Downtown would be back in the limelight.

Conclusion

Crafting a community center in South Downtown Atlanta would allow for the many people who live there to come together as one group, no matter what they believe in or who they are, and create a unique community in the heart of the Historic Hotel Row, and would thus open the door for more renovations and projects in the area to take place and help Atlanta grow and thrive.

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your day to learn about my project and what I want to do. It means so much to mean that I can help inspire people with this project and even make the world a better place, no matter how small the change may be.

If you’d like to find out more about the renovations in South Downtown going on at the moment, the link provided below will give you information about Newport, a company which, “has acquired a total of 52 assets in South Downtown Atlanta within eight city blocks. This acquisition effort represents the largest single concentration of primarily historic buildings in the City of Atlanta comprising a total nearly 13 acres.” Newport has been a key inspiration for my project and I wouldn’t have been near as driven to do this project if I hadn’t been able to tour their office and learn more about building renovations and community formation.

This is a link to the Newport website:

Also, I’d really appreciate it if you’d provide me your feedback and thoughts on my project idea in the short survey linked below:

Survey: South Downtown Atlanta Community Centre Feedback

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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 26, 2019 by Mike Hawk

    This is some very nice work! I see a very bright future ahead for this architecture.

  2. April 29, 2019 by Katherine Olivia Holder

    Nice work! My project is also located in Atlanta, and I chose to do a community center as well! Mine is centered around nature up on the Chattahoochee River, but I think it is very interesting that we chose to create very similar projects in the same city – shows that we must really need community centers! I really liked your background information too – allowed readers to connect to Atlanta’s rich history and understand why a center like this is so important. Would love to see some inspiration for your structure if you were to expand this page – maybe a list of materials? Would be interesting to see how you would choose materials to blend in with the historical buildings.

  3. April 30, 2019 by Kate Pitfield

    This is super awesome! I also live in Atlanta, but I decided to work on the transit problem. I really liked looking at this because even though we both live in the same city, our projects were very different. I think that you included a lot of good information that helped the viewer understand what is going on. Overall, I think that it is super cool how we both had an idea in Atlanta, yet they were very different.

  4. April 30, 2019 by Merrill.Buczek

    Wow! As an Atlanta native this planning is very inspiring. Having young people care about the city is so important to the future of Atlanta especially since our population is growing rapidly.

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