Tech request to demolish 771 Spring St. denied

As of July 14, the demolition permit requested by the Georgia Tech Foundation for the 771 Spring St. property was denied. The 771 Spring St. building, commonly called the Crum and Foster Building, sits adjacent to the Management Building and is the proposed location for an expansion of Tech Square.

After purchasing the property in December 2007, the Foundation decided to apply for a demolition permit after determining that maintaining the building in its current state would be a financial burden to Tech.

The possible demolition of the Crum and Foster Building drew an outcry, not only from the Tech community and Midtown residents, but also from people around the country. The 771 Spring St. Building was built in 1926 and is considered to be one of the few classically constructed historical buildings left in the Midtown area.

Many people were upset to lose yet another piece of history. Not only is the building relevant to Atlanta history as a whole, but it also has a particularly close tie with Tech’s own history, as both of its architects, Ed Ivey and Lewis Crook, were Tech graduates. As a student, Ivey headed up the effort that led to the creation of Tech’s architecture program in 1908.

Tech students are making sure that their opposition to the demolition of 771 Spring Street is heard. The SGA has taken a position on the side of preservation of the building.

“Atlanta has a sad reputation of demolishing its historic and architecturally significant buildings, and I would hate for [Tech] to be an accomplice to this trend….If students let the Foundation and the GT Administration know their concern over this building’s demolition, I’m positive that we can make a difference,” said Aaron Fowler, graduate president of the SGA.

Now that the demolition permit has been denied by the city of Atlanta, there are two possible courses of action currently being pursued by the Foundation. The first is to appeal the decision to deny the demolition permit, which will be decided at a hearing on Nov. 25.

Other hearings for the building are concerned with giving the building landmark status. The first hearing was held by the City Council in August, and another hearing will be held on Sept. 25 by the Urban Design Committee to evaluate whether to put the Crum and Foster Building on the list of Atlanta landmarks. If the building is put on the list, it will be even harder for the Foundation to acquire a demolition permit at a later date.

The Foundation is also pursuing another plan of action if 771 Spring St. is left standing. Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects, Inc., an Atlanta firm specializing in historic preservation and urban infill projects, has been hired to consider the feasibility of rehabilitating the building and incorporating it into the Tech Square expansion. Their draft report is currently being reviewed by the Foundation, which hopes to have recommendations for dealing with the property by October.

“This issue is a complex [project] not only because of the high costs involved, but because it needs to be consistent with the overall strategic plan for the future of [Tech] as we continue to develop and expand the Technology Square concept,” said John Carter, president of the Georgia Tech Foundation.

Still, students have high hopes for the preservation of 771 Spring St.

“I hope for the betterment of [Tech] and for future generations of Tech….The reputation of [Tech] depends on our actions in these sort of things, so I hope that the Foundation can find a good compromise that doesn’t just save the building, but really takes into consideration the spirit of sustainability we espouse as well, so that Tech can be an Institute that follows its own ethics, ” Fowler said.