A panel appointed by the Atlanta Urban Design Commission agreed last week (PDF) with the university foundation and said there's not a strong economic case to be made for renovating and restoring the three-story building. Preservationists have argued since 2009 that the building - designed and built to serve as the insurance company's Atlanta headquarters by the architectural firm of Helmle, Corbett, and Harrison with the help of Georgia Tech graduates Edward Ivey and "Buck" Crook - deserved to be spared from the wrecking ball. Writes Maria Saporta:
"Based on our review, the Economic Review Panel is in unanimous agreement that a reasonable economic return cannot be achieved under any methodology that involves renovating the existing structure and that the applicant's suggested approach to saving the façade and a small component of the structure as part of a new development is both gracious and fair given the current real estate environment," wrote John D. Shelsinger, one of the three members of the panel.
The other two members of the panel were Tom Aderhold, who had been selected by the Georgia Tech Foundation, and Scott Taylor, president of the Carter real estate firm, who was selected by the Urban Design Commission.
Under the commission's rules, the findings of the panel must be accepted unless preservationists can convince at least three-fourths of UDC members that the panel came to the wrong conclusion and reject the report.
Unless that happens, then the foundation will most likely move forward with its plans to demolish the "less architecturally significant" side and rear portions of the building (they plan to retain the building's Italian Renaissance-inspired facade) to make room for a "High Performing Computer Center," which could include a 27-story tower. (Here's a color rendering.) So while Midtown would benefit from more dense development, it will most likely come at the expense of a piece of the city's history.
The Urban Design Commission's slated to meet this week, but Saporta says an official decision will likely be made in the following weeks. More pics of the building by our beloved Joeff Davis after the jump.
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