As of June 25, approximately 445 students and supporters at Tech and across the nation joined the Facebook group to save the building at 771 Spring Street. The group was spurred after the Georgia Tech Foundation, which had recently acquired the building known as the Crum and Forester building, announced that it may face demolition, due to high costs of bringing it up to state and federal codes. The announcement was met with much opposition from Tech students, alumni, and other Atlanta residents.
The demolition plans for the building have upset many people, not only in the Tech community but also around Midtown and the greater Atlanta area. Already, a petition against the demolition has garnered almost 1,500 signatures. The public outcry is in response to the building’s status as not only aesthetically pleasing but also historical. Supporters consider the 771 Spring Street building to be one of the few historical classically built buildings left in the Midtown area.
It was built in 1926 as one of the first joint ventures of a national architecture firm with a local firm to create the building. The New York firm of Helmle, Corbett and Harrison worked with the Atlanta firm of Ivey and Crook to design the three-story building that became the home of the first regional office of a national insurance firm in Atlanta. The building at 771 Spring Street has a particularly close tie with Tech’s own history, as both Atlanta architects Ed Ivey and Lewis Crook were Tech graduates.
“The [771 Spring Street] building is actually in one of the textbooks that the architecture program uses when it teaches historical preservation, so it seems that every ideal of the institute and the architecture program would say to keep this building, to do something creative with it … This is an opportunity for Tech to do something good, and yet it seems the Foundation has turned this on its head,” said Daniel O’Shaughnessy, CE ’08 and advocate for the preservation of the building.
In order to obtain the demolition permit, the Foundation had to present their plans at a series of town meetings. At each meeting, community members are allowed to present their concerns and ask questions. Based on the responses of people at the meeting, the board of each town council makes a recommendation for or against the demolition permit to the council that actually issues the permit. At both the Midtown Neighbor’s Association meeting and Neighborhood Planning Unit the demolition permit was overwhelmingly opposed by all but the three Foundation representatives.
The Foundation has not finalized any immediate plans for the property after the demolition.
In an email, John Carter, Georgia Tech Foundation President stated, “The Foundation is still evaluating our options for the property. Our plans are to develop as much of the block as possible as an extension to Technology Square which would obviously benefit Georgia Tech immensely. We have had initial discussions with the Tech administration as to what the highest and best use of the property might be considering the Institute’s priorities and campus master plan.”
However, at the town meetings and on the petition, people have showed skepticism towards a demolition with no plans to erect something in its place.
“Most people agree that we have already torn down a lot of our history in Atlanta and I think that we aren’t ready to see it happen again,” O’Shaughnessy said.