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Andrea

Save the 615 Peachtree Building!

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I just read this in the "Next Wave" thread! I can't believe it! :angry:

Cousins plans two condo towers, retail on site near Fox Theatre

615 Peachtree Street building to be razed - AJC

"Cousins will take a wrecking ball to the 12-story 1959 building, known as 615 Peachtree Street, this spring. In its place, Cousins plans to build two condo skyscrapers and a 30,000-square-foot retail center, said Larry Gellerstedt, Cousins' president of office and residential development."

This superb midrise building has been a fixture on the Atlanta skyline for nearly 50 years. It has been continuously in use and remains so to this day, and it is immaculately maintained. According to the DOCOMOMO website:

Originally commissioned by First National Bank of Atlanta (later purchased by Wachovia), the building was designed by Smith & Smith Architects of Atlanta. Francis P. Smith, a student of the noted American architect Paul Cret (1876-1945), moved to Atlanta in 1909 to become the first chairman of Georgia Tech's newly established architecture department. He worked in that capacity until 1922 when he returned to private practice.

The next year he formed a partnership with established Atlanta architect R. S. Pringle. The partnership lasted until 1934, during which time Pringle & Smith designed several important buildings in Atlanta, including the Rhodes-Haverty Building (1928) and the William-Oliver Building (1930). Pringle retired in the 1930s, but Smith continued to practice independently. Smith's son, Henry H., followed his father's footsteps to the University of Pennsylvania, and after ending his military service in the 1950s, joined his father in practice.

Prior to 615 Peachtree, Francis had served as an architect to First National on numerous projects. The city’s widening of North Avenue, and subsequent narrowing of First National’s property at the intersection of Peachtree prompted the new commission. The client decided to raze an existing branch bank on site and develop the property for commercial office space.

According to Henry H. Smith, the design proposed by he and his father attempted to maximize rental space on the narrow site resulting from the roadwork. Their concept also utilized a passive solar design. The slab-like building's monumental east and west elevations are noticeably without windows. This design avoided the intense solar heat gain at those exposures, and instead provided glazing at only the south and north elevations. The majority of the office spaces were ideally configured for southern exposure.

(DOCOMOMO US, Georgia Chapter, Inc. is a regional society promoting research, scholarship, and education concerning the Modern Movement, and the conservation of the buildings, landscape, and built environment of the Modern Movement. )

Please, let's not lose yet another treasure of old Atlanta in the name of "progress." At a stately 50 years of age, 615 Peachtree is as old or older than many of the buildings that were lost to developments such as One Atlantic Center, Peachtree Center, 1180 Peachtree, the Equitable and many other Downtown and Midtown developments. It's older than the Fox was when BellSouth tried to tear it down in 1973.

This is even more tragic in light of Cousins' stated motives:

"Cousins' move into mixed-use projects is largely market-driven."

Good grief, have we reached the point that we sacrifice historic treasures in the name of vague "market-driven" considerations??? Isn't that just code for making money???? Cousins doesn't even have any specific plans -- all they can say is that whatever behemoth they plan on building "will likely be a mix of homes and offices, depending on the office market."

Why can't they build these monsters in the suburbs instead of destroying what we already have?

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I couldn't disagree with you more.

How can 50 years of age be considered old for a building if it isn't even considered old for a person? This building holds absolutely no historic value, and in my opinion is rather ugly, as is most modern architecture. I would much rather see residential towers there, adding people to the area.

I am not averse to saving structures of historical importance, but I fail to see how this building qualifies.

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Here is my time to be a hypocrite - I can't wait for them to tear the building down. I've always hated it, besides the main library - brutalist architecture is my least favorite style. Especially that bare concrete wall that faces Peachtree St is in my view the most insulting manner for an architect to show his view of the area & city he designs for.

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Unless they can promise me that they aren't replacing it with another McGlass McMonster, I'd sooner it stay. I'd love to see those gray panels in their original red.

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How can 50 years of age be considered old for a building if it isn't even considered old for a person?

Ryan, I'm shocked that you and Brad feel this way. Many of the buildings that were torn down when projects like One Atlantic Center, 1180 Peachtree, Peachtree Center, the Arts Center, and The Equitable Building were built were no more than 50 years old, yet we routinely hear people decry their destruction as historic structures. The Piedmont Hotel was about 50 years old when it was replaced by the Equitable. And as I say, the Fox was only 44 years old when BellSouth wanted to take it down in 1973, and frankly it was a lot more decrepit and seedy than 615 Peachtree.

Granted, architecture is a matter of taste, but surely we have to at least give some deference to those who do respect the styles of bygone eras and to architectural professionals such as DOCOMOMO. The architects for this building had a hand in many other grand Atlanta structures as well. This building has not only stood proudly on the Atlanta skyline for generations, it has also remained an active and vibrant part of Atlanta's commerce. In my opinion, it has been one of the anchors of Midtown, when the area went through some very rough times.

Lizella's before and after pictures show what we've done to Midtown in less than 40 years. We have managed to stomp flat block after block of the old buildings that were there, and this strikes me as simply more of the same. What will future generations say when they discover that we've eradicated huge chunks of their heritage? And all in the name of "market-driven" development?

Midtown6806.jpg

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Just wanted to add that 615 Peachtree blends beautifully with the church and the apartment building on its adjoining sides, as well as with the large lawn/parking deck and office tower across the street.

I'd hate to lose something like this to a couple of McCondo's.

615Peachtree.JPG

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.

615Peachtree.JPG

I do not think this building is very attractive, although it is not in bad condition either. It does look out of place next to the church. I have no problem with them tearing it down.

The real question is, Is the proposal for the new 615 Peachtree going to fit in well with its surroundings and be both attractive and not aid severely to congestion. Will the builders take congestion into consideration? I hope so.

It would be nice to see a rendering.

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I do not think this building is very attractive, although it is not in bad condition either. It does look out of place next to the church. I have no problem with them tearing it down.

Well, then when it is "no problem" to tear something down? Is it simply a matter of whether tastes have changed, or whether some people no longer find it attractive? Or because some people now think it looks out of place? Aren't those rather subjective -- and fickle -- criteria? Why are 50 year old buildings considered historic treasures in some cases, but disposable in others?

This building is approximately my age, and to me it represents Atlanta as I grew up in it. I'm afraid I'm not at a big fan of many of the McCondo towers that have been plunked down in recent years. To me they are simply out of character with the city I grew up in.

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This building is approximately my age, and to me it represents Atlanta as I grew up in it.

Don't worry Andrea - no one is suggesting that we replace you with a younger woman ;)

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Don't worry Andrea - no one is suggesting that we replace you with a younger woman ;)

:lol:

That's what's got me worried, Brad. People may look at me and say, "Sad, tear this pathetic thing down and replace her with a pair of Mc-25 year olds."

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I must admit I don't see the historical or architectural value that makes this building worth saving, particularly from a project that could bring so much more life to the city. Sorry Andrea :(

And I am a little shocked that teshadoh agrees. :shok:

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Andrea,

Let me clarify. This building is going to be torn down regardless of what any of us think. That being said, it is peace of mind to me (and apparently to others) that they are not tearing down something "beautiful."

I would much rather that developers use the vast amounts of "vacant" land around there as opposed to tearing down buildings. But that is just my logical, maniacal thinking.

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I must admit I don't see the historical or architectural value that makes this building worth saving, particularly from a project that could bring so much more life to the city. Sorry Andrea :(

And I am a little shocked that teshadoh agrees. :shok:

No apologies needed, Martinman, everyone has their own opinion. I happen to like the building and find it an excellent example of the architecture that populated large sections of Midtown and many other parts of Atlanta for most of the last half century.

As to its historical value I would say this:

(1) It was designed by one of Atlanta's most well known architectural firms.

(2) It has been occupied since Day One by one of Atlanta's major banks.

(3) It has been an anchor of Midtown stability, employment and commerce for generations, even in times when the area was in decline and considered seedy.

(4) Its style and scale are consistent with the kinds of buildings that have been the staple of Midtown for the last half century, as well as in many other parts of Atlanta.

(5) It has been meticulously maintained.

(6) It is recognized as endangered by architectural history groups such as DOCOMOMO.

(7) It has reached the age of 50 years in pristine condition, which is as old or older than many other buildings which have been recognized as "historic" in Atlanta, and which have been the subject of substantial lamenting and/or preservation efforts.

Add to this the fact that the developer has no specific plan, has admitted that its only motive for tearing down the building is "market-driven" (i.e., money), and has made no effort to conserve any aspect of the existing structure. It's not as if there are not other developable lands nearby either. If I'm not mistaken, there are several asphalt parking lots right there on Peachtree within a block or so of this building.

615%20Peachtree.jpg

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While this isn't my favorite style of architecture, I would agree with you that its replacement might not be a better building. I'd save the Winecoff for exactly the same reasons you have listed above. :)

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I must admit I don't see the historical or architectural value that makes this building worth saving, particularly from a project that could bring so much more life to the city.

I would agree. I would understand your frustration if the building had some achitectural style or historical revelance. I would still prefer them to develop on a vacant lot, but in this case, new is better.

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I know that there are as many types of Atlantans as there are... Atlantans, but I must say that if there is an Atlanta culture, it is the culture of change.

On the other hand I'd like to say that I'm into saving ANY building when we have so many surface parking lots. There should be a special tax break for developing surface parking lots and a tax penalty for tearing something down.

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I think we're all in agreement that it would be great if we could develop the surface first, but this is a prime location on Peachtree and I think this is a completely appropriate developement for the site.

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While this isn't my favorite style of architecture, I would agree wityh you that its replacement mught not be a better building. I'd save the Winecoff for exactly the same reasons you have listed above. :)

Hm, I not sure I follow. The Winecoff hasn't been occupied by a major Atlanta bank, or by any significant enterprise, in decades. Nor has it been an anchor of Downtown stability, employment or commerce. It is the site of one of the most horrifying disasters in American urban history. I agree that it's an attractive facade, although it's in a style that people are continuing to use and which could well be replicated.

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If any 1960's building should be saved, & they should, then the one next to Piedmont Hospital with the blue hostest twinky-esque blocks up the side needs to be. I love that building. There is a billboard in front of it of a possible (very boring) redo of the building. They want to take a unique 60's and turn it into a typical 80's building. Can't we shoot people for that?

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I would understand your frustration if the building had some achitectural style or historical revelance.

You don't think the 7 factors I've listed demonstrate the significance of 615 Peachtree's architecture and its historical relevance? You may not personally like its style but surely the building meets any objective criteria for architectural and historical value.

If not, what, in your opinion, would it take? Surely we're not at the point where we tear down high quality, well maintained, high functioning, energy wise old buildings in the heart of our cities just because we don't find them visually au courant! Especially when they epitomize the style, scale and aesthetic of an earlier, more graceful era.

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I think we're all in agreement that it would be great if we could develop the surface first, but this is a prime location on Peachtree and I think this is a completely appropriate developement for the site.

How are teardowns for huge McCondos in commercial neighborhoods different from teardowns in residential areas?

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I'd hate to lose something like this to a couple of McCondo's.

615Peachtree.JPG

Hmm... Bring on the McCondos! Sorry Andrea but I don't see any architectural significance in it's design. There's a solid wall of concrete facing Peachtree, that's a criminal act by itself.

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You don't think the 7 factors I've listed demonstrate the significance of 615 Peachtree's architecture and its historical relevance? You may not personally like its style but surely the building meets any objective criteria for architectural and historical value.

If not, what, in your opinion, would it take? Surely we're not at the point where we tear down high quality, well maintained, high functioning, energy wise old buildings in the heart of our cities just because we don't find them visually au courant! Especially when they epitomize the style, scale and aesthetic of an earlier, more graceful era.

Whether or not the Winecoff has been functioning is beside the point. Replicas of historic styles aren't the same as historic buildings. Whether we like the history therein is beside the point. It's still history....and both this building and the Winecoff are likely better buildings than such as would replace them. I think we are roughly on the same page here.

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Hmm... Bring on the McCondos! Sorry Andrea but I don't see any architectural significance in it's design. There's a solid wall of concrete facing Peachtree, that's a criminal act by itself.

Gee, Hybrid, surely we're not going to start determining a building's architectural significance by whether some people subjectively do or don't like like its design, are we? Whether I care for that building, or whether I'd rather see it replaced by something else, doesn't really have anything to do with its architectural value.

As you know, that wall (and I can't recall whether it's concrete or marble) was expressly designed to utilize a passive solar design. The absence of windows on the east and west elevations avoided the intense solar heat gain at those exposures. In retrospect, it may not have been the best aesthetic choice but in terms of architectural significance I think the building deserves major kudos for taking solar energy considerations into account at a time when this wasn't common.

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