Atlanta Contemporary Art Center
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Renovation
The project involved the interior renovation for gallery and educational outreach spaces at the heart of the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (ACAC). The existing facility consisted of mash-up of buildings built by Standard Oil of Kentucky over a period of 30 years (1920-1950), where new buildings had been built both adjacent to and, in one case, entirely engulfing, the older buildings. These buildings followed divergent geometries based on the surround street layout, now intersecting on the interior in unlikely, but potentially powerful ways. This entire collection of buildings was first transformed into an art center in 1990 – but the manner of that renovation was to hide these distinct features and subsume them under an imported architectural theme.
Our goal, instead, was to help clarify these disparate geometries and layers of building structures – reopening windows that had been blocked up for 40 years – to foster an understanding of how those geometries, and the art center itself, is situated within its context and within the city of Atlanta beyond as connecting views of the Atlanta skyline became visible from the interior.
The ACAC has three primary missions – galleries for sharing art of national significance, studio spaces rented below market rates for qualifying artists, and community education around issues of art and artists. Our project also had to very efficiently help visitors understand these aspects of the institution – to clarify its unique roll and relevance in a flourishing arts community.
With new lighting, walls and window openings, existing exterior gallery walls were pulling through the interior to help direct visitors to the gallery spaces.
In the central space vacated by a former tenant, along this new wall to the galleries, we inserted a large lecture hall/multi-purpose room that presents the ACAC’s educational mission as equal to its gallery/arts display mission. A single curtain can be drawn to semi-close off this space when not in use, but still allow visitors to understand that important aspect.
Other exterior windows were opened up from a renewed “Resource Room,” allowing views from and to the 18 artist studios adjacent to the galleries. These had never before been visible from the interior of the primary building and often remained an unknown attribute of the institution.
The project also included new lighting and AV throughout, new HVAC sytems, a small book/giftstore, a cafe/bar and new reception area.