Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Community Trumps Developer

Amazing News--The Buckhead library will not be torn down to build a parking lot. It seems the two commissioners previously skipping to demolish the unique structure in exchange for 24 million dollars from the developers received opposition from their constituents unwilling to sell out.

An article in the local paper, a few days ago, touched on the greater issue surrounding razing the Buckhead library which essentially queried “When do a city's civic values trump its commercial interests?” The author pointed to the need to not lose the unique structures and ambiance available in this city in the name of "progress." I am pleased to learn that I am not alone in the need to save some of the authentic "texture" still standing in a city rushing to throw up the latest prefab mixed use development.

Thankfully in this situation the civic value won out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Love songs befitting today reminding me of loved ones I lost too soon and others I am still lucky enough to have around. Wishing you a day to appreciate the loved ones in your life ---may that be family, friends, children, a spouse or a partner. Happy Valentine's Day

Monday, February 11, 2008

Atlanta, where every day is opening day

Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects (photo via firm's website)

"Atlanta, where everyday is an opening day"
is a marketing theme meant to parlay the message that this city is dedicated to "Optimism, Opportunity, and Openness. " What the motto fails to explain is that these three O's actually describe the developers in this city not the dwellers.

It is a long story how Atlanta became a developers playground, but now they are going too far with their plans. The developers aspire to model a part of town called Buckhead after Rodeo Drive which they tout as "the streets of Buckhead." This was bad enough, but now they are bent on making sure the building pictured above comes tumbling down since it sits on a prime piece of real estate for the Rodeo Drive they have envisioned.

They are currently offering the city/county 24 million dollars (upping the ante from their previous offer of 18 million) to allow them to raze this unique piece of architecture which has won accolades outside the city. This makes me wonder is it really the modern building which WILL outshine their lackluster, unimaginative buildings of sameness that bother them? Or is it what the building actually holds, a library. A place not about turning a profit, but focused on welcoming people from all walks of life no matter their age or social status. It is a community center that meets the needs of everyone not just the wealthy.

The developers reasons for razing this unique piece of architecture seems to be about turning a profit, disdain for unique architecture, and possibly a thinly veiled way to make sure the library community moves out (or underground, "two floors above a parking garage") to make room for the pocketbooks ready to spend their cash on a pseudo Rodeo Drive. Take a nice long, look at what Atlanta had to offer because if you stick around long enough there will be another opening day around the corner, but now hopefully know what another opening day in Atlanta really means.

If you would like to voice an objection to razing the Buckhead library to build a parking lot:

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System

Contact Information for the Fulton county commissioners

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Todd Oldham & Charley Harper

CBS Sunday morning ran their interview with Todd Oldham about how he came to spend 5 years of his life archiving the work of Charley Harper (before Harper's death in June 2007). Oldham talked about his admiration for Harper as both an artist and ultimately a friend. How lucky Oldham was to discover Harper and forge a relationship with the artist before he died. Oldham refers to himself as a "Harperologist." A transcript of Oldham's interview can be found here. Oldham revealed in the interview that he also kept a video journal of his conversations with Harper. It would be interesting to see this documentation in addition to the book and catalog of work.

On a side note: I am excited to see what Oldham does as creative director (appointed Oct 2007) at Old Navy as he strives to make the brand more modern. Supposedly changes will start to appear this month and continue with monthly collections, but we will not start seeing the full impact of his influence until June. Sounds like Oldham is going to make shopping at Old Navy more of an experience than just picking up those tank tops.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Eero Saarinen Exhibit

This past summer I was hoping to get a firsthand look at Cranbrook's museum and collections, but I only toured the grounds since it was closed for the labor day weekend. I am more than thrilled to learn a retrospective of one of Cranbrook's star pupils, Eero Saarinen, has opened in Atlanta. Eero's father, Eliel, began teaching at Cranbrook Academy of Art when Eero was 13 years old. I can't even imagine what it was like to grow up at the Cranbrook.

There is nothing better then to walk inside one of Eero's buildings or to get your hands on one of his tulip chairs. How could you not love the TWA terminal at JFK International Airport, St. Louis Gateway Arch, or how the tulip chair changed the view that a chair must have four legs. Eero's designs are simply iconic. I am so thankful for Eero's designs and delighted to see a showcase of his work.