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Column: Library takes prominent place for time being
by Thornton Kennedy
Northside Neighbor Columnist
November 20, 2012 10:44 AM | 2531 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Thornton Kennedy
Thornton Kennedy
There are so many things for which I am thankful this holiday season: a happy, healthy family, friends, a roof over our heads. I find that with age these things multiply exponentially.

But there are other, less obvious things for which I am grateful.

I am thankful to Ben Carter for tearing down all of the old Buckhead haunts for his ambitious Streets of Buckhead project (now called Buckhead Atlanta). The long-stalled development, which is now in the hands of OliverMcMillan, a California developer, unintentionally created the perfected view of Buckhead’s most distinct and under appreciated building: the Buckhead Library.

For the last four years, drivers on Peachtree Road have enjoyed an unimpeded view of the slate scale-covered modern masterpiece, which is on one of the highest points in the village. It was designed by Merrill Elam of Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects Inc.

From the side it takes on the look of a ship cutting through the water, sailing toward downtown with a short smoke stack protruding from the center of its hull. The outside walkways are accented with metal sails while the windows toward the Buckhead Avenue entrance are small and circular-like portholes.

From the outside the building is fascinating but the inside is equally inspired. There is plenty of light resulting from the back wall, the entirety of which is a two-story window that once boasted an incredible view of midtown and downtown Atlanta. Skylights cut through the ceiling. Despite the modern lines, the open space is bathed in natural light.

I am less thankful for JLB Partners for replacing the view with a five-story apartment building. Yes, Atlanta’s economic engine was once downtown and clearly times have changed. Our economic engine is for the foreseeable future apartment buildings, but must we salute this shifting landscape by making it the center piece of the view out of those magnificent library windows?

The library is not without its detractors. Eternal Fulton County Commissioner Tom Lowe famously lambasted the design when there was talk of tearing the building down a few years ago as part of Carter’s development plan. I am a fan of more modern-leaning architecture and I find the building is fascinating. I realize I may stand in the minority.

Eventually, if the development company OliverMcMillan moves forward, the 1989 building will not be visible amid the new buildings. For the time being and the near future, I encourage everyone to not only stop and take in the unique design but go inside and read for a spell.

Thornton Kennedy is a fifth-generation Buckhead resident and can be reached at

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