Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Breuer's Atlanta Library chosen for 2010 WMF Watch

October 6, 2009 - This morning in New York, The World Monuments Fund announced its 2010 WATCH LIST, continuing the organization's biennial tradition of of bringing international attention to threatened cultural heritage. 93 sites from 47 countries were chosen, some dating back several centuries, with one in Africa dating back 2 million years. The youngest site to received "at risk" or "threatened" recognition is the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library. The building was designed by Bauhaus alumni, Marcel Breuer. Press release follows:

Press Contacts

Holly Evarts, World Monuments Fund, 646-424-9594, or hevarts@wmf.org.

Jeanne Collins & Associates, LLC, 646-486-7050, or info@jcollinsassociates.com.




For Immediate Release—New York, NY, October 6, 2009Bonnie Burnham, President of the World Monuments Fund (WMF), today announced the 2010 World Monuments Watch. For more than 40 years, WMF, a nonprofit organization, has worked to preserve cultural heritage across the globe. The 2010 Watch includes 93 sites now at risk, representing 47 countries. These include 9 sites from the United States and 15 dating from the 20th century. The Watch is WMF’s flagship advocacy program, and it calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage.

Ranging from the famous (Machu Picchu, Peru) and remote (Phajoding, a monastery high in the mountains of Bhutan), to the unexpected (Merritt Parkway, Connecticut, U.S.) and little-known (desert castles of ancient Khorezm, Uzbekistan), the 2010 Watch tells compelling stories of human aspiration, imagination, and adaptation. The need for collective action and sustainable stewardship are common themes running through the 2010 list, and the 93 sites vividly illustrate the ever-more pressing need to create a balance between heritage concerns and the social, economic, and environmental interests of communities around the world.

The 2010 Watch makes it clear that cultural heritage efforts in the 21st century must recognize the critical importance of sustainable stewardship, and that we must work closely with local partners to create viable and appropriate opportunities to advance this,” said Ms. Burnham. “The sites on the 2010 Watch list make a dramatic case for the need to bring together a variety of sectors—economic, environmental, heritage preservation, and social—when we are making plans that will affect us all. Greater cooperation among these sectors would benefit humanity today, while ensuring our place as stewards of the Earth for the next generation.”

Comprising products of individual imaginations, testaments to faith, and masterpieces of civil engineering, among other types of creations, the sites on the 2010 Watch are irreplaceable monuments to human culture. They are found in every type of environment, from urban centers and small towns to barren plains and riverside caves, and they are threatened by war, natural disasters, urban sprawl, and neglect. They range from the prehistoric to the contemporary, and include schools, libraries, municipal buildings, places of worship, roadways, aqueducts, row houses, bridges, gateways, parks, follies, cultural landscapes, archaeological remains, historic city centers, castles, private houses, forts, tombs, and ancient petroglyphs and cave art.

Download full press kit here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

University to Create a Digital Edition of Breuer's Work

Society of Architectural Historians

Syracuse University Library awarded $350,000 NEH grant for Marcel Breuer digital project

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Syracuse University Library a $350,000 grant to create a digital scholarly edition of the works of Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer. The project, entitled "Marcel Breuer, Architect: Life and Work, 1922-1955" will run from May 2009 through April 2011 and culminate in the release of the web-based edition in May 2011.

Breuer began donating his papers to Syracuse University Library more than 40 years ago, in 1964. Today, the Syracuse Breuer collection includes thousands of original oversized drawings and blueprints, correspondence and photographs.

Upon Breuer's death in 1981, his widow donated many of his remaining papers to the Smithsonian Institution's Archives of American Art. This NEH-funded project will unite these geographically separate collections in an online edition of 50,000 items. It will also incorporate Breuer materials from other international archival repositories.

Based in the Library's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) and led by its director, Sean Quimby, the project is a partnership with SU's School of Architecture (SOA). SOA students and faculty will assist with usability testing as the web project develops. SOA faculty member Jonathan Massey, along with Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, will serve on an advisory board.

"The Breuer project will not only enable a new generation of Breuer scholarship, it will open a whole new set of questions about the profile and issues of American modernism from the 1930s through the late 1970s," Bergdoll said in a letter supporting the proposal.

Contact sah_l@hotmail.com for more info.

The National Trust: Breuer's Last Design


The National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Threatened in Atlanta: Breuer's Last Design

Preservation Magazine - One of the most notable pieces of modern architecture in the American South may be demolished and replaced with a new design.

Local artist Max Eternity, along with New York University Breuer scholar Isabelle Hyman, have turned to the blogosphere as a grassroots method of garnering support for the library. To demolish a modern structure so integrated with its environment, Eternity writes on the blog, "seems sociologically, aesthetically, and historically incomprehensible—to say nothing of economically wasteful."

Read more.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Crum & Forrester: Civic Maturation in Atlanta?

- Image taken from Surf303.com -

In an ongoing dispute involving whether or not another one of Atlanta's historical sites will be demolished or preserved, The city of Atlanta’s Board of Zoning Adjustment denied an appeal from the Georgia Tech Foundation, in its quest to get a demolition permit.

So for now it seems that the historic Crum & Forster building will continue to live on. Read More.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Creative Loafing: The Fresh Loaf...Atlanta's Downtown Library in Jeopardy

Metropolis profiles Atlanta’s downtown library in jeopardy

February 18, 2009 at 12:27 pm by Thomas Wheatley in News

Creative Loafing - Architecture magazine Metropolis this month profiles the effort by Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts to raze — or is it renovate? — the historic Atlanta-Fulton County public library located downtown.

The library, completed in 1980, is the final work of famed Modernist architect Marcel Breuer and considered a masterpiece. The architecture community, enraged by the idea, wants to preserve the building.

From the magazine:

Having secured $85 million last November through a bond referendum, Pitts hopes to incorporate retail, dining, and performance space into a high-visibility property. An early choice was a site facing Centennial Olympic Park, a tourist destination bordered by such attractions as CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, and the World of Coca-Cola. But opening a new main branch would mean abandoning the existing one—a design that many argue is already a world-class piece of architecture.

It’s an excellent article and worth your time. Read it in full at Metropolis’ site.

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)


Metropolis Mag: Atlanta's Downtown Library

February 18, 2009 - International design magazine -- art and architecture journal -- Metropolis Mag, has publish in its February issue, a featured piece about Atlanta's Downtown Library. The building, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library -- designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer -- is at risk of being demolished under the auspices of Robb Pitts, a notorious Atlanta politician. Nonetheless, with both a local and national preservation effort gathering steam, the table may soon turn and Mr. Pitts will have to find himself another architectural site to pick on.

Written by renowned journalist Jonathan Lerner, those interviewed for the magazine article consists of a veritable roll call of who's who in the art and design world, including Dr. Isabelle Hyman, Barry Bergdoll, Jon Buono and Max Eternity.




Atlanta’s urge for a trendy new central library may mean that time is up for Marcel Breuer’s final building.

- Click Here to Read -

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Please Visit The New Preservation Website


In December 2008 a new online petition and preservation website was created for the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library preservation cause. At that site -- the new site -- you will find a wonderful introductiary essay, written by Professor Emerita @ New York University, Dr. Isabelle Hyman, author and noted Marcel Breuer scholar. Click here to visit the new site.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Petition Reaches 300 -- Thanks for Your Support

300 Signatures in 8 Weeks !


To: The Fulton County Board of Commissioners

To: The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, Director John Szabo
To: Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Chairman John Eaves
To: The City of Atlanta, Mayor Shirley Franklin

We call to you attention that any and all attempts to obscure, defund and otherwise, with willful intent, delegitimize the great, historical significance of the currently standing and fully functioning, 28 year-old Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library, are now being met with resistance; as witnessed in the formation of this petition, operating in tandem with other forms of collective civic action.

We call to your attention that this declaration makes no assumptions about what may become, as we are most concerned with what we feel should be.

We call to your attention that the architectural site that we seek to protect and preserve was designed by legendary architect Marcel Breuer, who counts among his more than 300 public and private commissions, with being credited for the design of The Whitney Museum in New York City, the HUD and HEW buildings in Washington D.C. and (in a partnership) the UNESCO building in Paris, France.

We call to your attention that it is our desire to work with, not against, the leadership and stewardship of this collective civic investment, in that we believe that "to remove a significant modernist monument -- important in and for its time and still satisfactorily fulfilling its original function to serve the community -- designed by a major architect of historical importance and world renown, would be a serious civic blunder in the cultural history of Atlanta"

So let it now be known that all who sign herein speak peacefully, in a unified spirit of service, cooperation and preservation with the hope that our voices shall be known, counted and heard. As we ask that the leadership attributed to deciding the fate of this site, regard this petition as a formal request that said leaders make a sincere and honest pledge toward instituting a policy of site renovation and preservation in respect to Marcel Breuer's enduring legacy as expressed in his final epic work, the iconic Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library.


(click here to sign)


Monday, February 9, 2009

The ABC...A Possibility? A Vision?

-For Immediate Release -

To The Citizens of Atlanta and the International Community at Large:

As a lifelong patron of The, Marcel Breuer designed, Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library -- native to the State of Georgia -- drafter of the online petition "A Plea for Preservation" -- moderator of several sites, all providing a forum of advocacy for the preservation of said library -- artist, and lover of all things fine --I present a proposal:

The Atlanta Bauhaus Center

My name is Max Eternity and I have a vision that Atlanta’s current central library – designed by Bauhaus legend Marcel Breuer -- be fully restored in order that it may be reborn and rededicated as The ABC, which stands for The Atlanta Bauhaus Center. And like the original Bauhaus School, where Breuer studied then taught, The Atlanta Bauhaus Center would be an institution with a core mission of presenting art, architecture, engineering and design in a proactive, educational environment.

This fine art library -- lecture hall -- museum -- repository -- meeting space -- would take an engaging, innovative approach toward towards addressing the issue of what role our public institutions might take toward keeping themselves relevant; better serving in their civic capacity. And with its newly stated directive, the converted Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library would be poised to provide unprecedented international leadership towards closing the gap between the literary, the technological and the artistic. Meaning that in very real terms, from cradle to college and community, The ABC would be a most powerful part of the overall library system, offering Atlanta’s diverse public an incredible opportunity for continued learning and civic interaction, leisure -- pleasure.

This would be a library like no other.

Imagine the prospects.

This link, this link and this link provide images and information about the history and current use of the site.


Max Eternity

Autodidact | Polymath

*** NOTE ***

This document was originally drafted and disseminated during the summer of 2008.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Bauhaus, Breuer and the International Style


In 2002 Professor Emerita, Isabelle Hyman, -- who personally knew Marcel Breuer, architect of Atlanta's central library -- had her monograph Marcel Breuer, Architect:The Career And The Buildings published. The book celebrated the 100 year anniversary of Marcel Breuer's 1902 birth. Thereafter, in 2007-08, The U.S. National Building Museum ran an exhibition, curated by Susan Piedmont-Palladino, called Marcel Breuer: Design and Architecture. Now coming up later this year through 2010, Barry Bergdoll, Professor @ Columbia University and Chief Curator of Architecture @ MoMa [The Museum of Modern Art] will have his curated exhibition on display on the 6th Floor @ MoMA; that show being a retrospective on Breuer's Alma Mater, entitled Bauhaus 1919-1933: workshops for modernity.

This is all good news.

Still, one of the most obvious challenges being faced in relation to the preservation effort for The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library in Downtown Atlanta, is a lack of awareness, appreciation and understanding of the historical significance and international pedigree of the building's creator, and the library site itself. In so far as, the architectural site could quite plausibly be considered as much a contemporary monument, as it is modernist, as it is pre-modern or Bauhaus; not to mention that because of its monolithic styled construction, the building appears to have it's roots reaching all the way back to ancient Mayan temples and the pyramids of Egypt. This point being made because, even to the casual observer, it is self-evident that the site both encompasses and transcends much of the architectural aesthetic, in America and around the world, for the last 90 years. And though the structure's site is less than 30 years old, it nonetheless, appears to be a perfect candidate for canonization. For, like Dr. King's childhood home or The Vanderbilt Biltmore House or The Empire State Building, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library has all the fine markers and indicators of a legendary architect, doing very significant work in a historically important town.

So, how have we forgotten...the man, the legacy and the building?

It was 90 years ago when the Bauhaus School was first founded. And it was at that school where Marcel Breuer, architect of the central library, was enrolled as a student; completed his studies and became a teacher at the school therein. And it is because of that school's founder, Walter Gropius, along with other Bauhaus associates like Le Corbusier, Josef Albers and Mies Van Der Rohe, who -- making the Trans-Atlantic journey to arrive in the U.S. circa 1940's -- worked through independent firms, government institutions and educational entities, like The Chicago Art Institute, Black Mountain College and Harvard University, to lay the very foundation of modernism in America. It is that same creative movement, which expressed itself in what became known as the International Style.

The history of the Bauhaus, Modernism and the International Style is so rich and layered,that one can hardly absorb it all in two or three sittings. Yet as strange and ironic as it may seem, the ubiquity of those intellectual and cultural elders -- of that school -- of that era and age -- is so omnipresent that the masses often take the impact of Breuer and his colleagues' achievements as uneventful "normal" reality as opposed to priceless contributions to humanity's enrichment.

Could it be that Marcel Breuer's life and legacy was too spectacular and generous for it' own good?

Hence, we should all be reminded that Marcel Breuer did not just create places for shelter and dwelling. He pioneered engineering techniques, painted wonderful works of art, created beautiful craftsmanship furnishings, all the while endowing private individuals and institutions around the world with his vast portfolio of iconic, architectural sculpture; for which to live, work and play. He opened up his heart and his mind, giving us a new way to see and experience the world.

In Atlanta we have the very last piece of his architectural legacy; the last building he completed before his passing just one year later. Thus we owe it to ourselves to preserve, retain and enshrine this aspect of our shared birthright and collective, civic heritage.

It may not feel like it now, but our descendents will thanks us later.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Preservation Equation

Beyond the messy dealings of questionable motives, convenient omissions and other attempts by one or more public servant(s) to "hijack" the public treasure and trust, let it now be stated in the most unambiguous terms that this is a site devoted to the goal of securing the certain preservation of the Marcel Breuer designed Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library. To those ends a chart [below] is provided; demonstrating how that goal can be achieved. On the chart one will see two equations. The upper equation leads to certain preservation, while the lower equation - currently in effect - represents what has been ratified by the library system's Executive Director combined with the library's Board of Trustees and a majority vote from The Fulton County Boards of Commissioners. Thus, the building is now challenged - leaving it at risk - endangered through uncertain preservation.

- click chart for larger view -

Please click here to read and sign our petition "A Plea For Preservation"
Please click here to visit our new site, and read an essay by Dr. Isabelle Hyman

Monday, January 5, 2009

Marcel Breuer: The Man, The Legacy

Born in 1902 in Pecs, Hungary, Marcel Breuer, is remembered as one of the most influential architects and designers of the 20th Century. Early in life he developed an interest in art, which led him to Weimar, Germany where he studied and taught at the famed Bauhaus school. Once there he participated first as a student from 1920 til his graduation in 1924. Thereafter, he became a faculty member or "Bauhaus Master" from 1924 to 1928; by which time the school had relocated from Weimar to Dessau.

From the outset, Breuer had a clear understanding of the "form follows function" principle. To this, he embraced the concept of unit construction, and in 1925, with his innovative use of raw materials, Breuer was credited with being the first to use tubular steel in furniture; a now ubiquitous, modernist technique applied around the world. As well, Breuer was also one of the pioneers of minimalism.

In Europe, from 1928 to 1937, Breuer enjoyed a flourishing architectural practice. However, because of the outbreak of The Second World War, he made a decision to relocate in America. It was during this time when Harvard University offered him an Associate Professorship at it's School of Design. Simultaneously, many of his other colleagues were migrating to the U.S. including Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Bauhaus (faculty) colleagues Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. At Harvard Breuer was joined by Gropius, who taught at the school as well. Breuer continued to teach at Harvard University until 1946. And in 1970 he received the only Honorary Doctorate in Architecture ever awarded by that school.

Throughout his illustrious career, Marcel Breuer was commissioned for numerous, monumental civic structures, with some of the more notable being The UNESCO World Headquarters (Paris), The Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), The University of Massachusetts Campus Center in Amherst, the headquarters of The Departments of HUD and HEW in Washington D.C., St. John's Abbey (Minnesota) and The Atlanta-Fulton Central Branch Public Library (Atlanta). In addition to his civic commissions, Breuer also received many residential commissions, including The Wolfson House, Breuer House and The Frank House, which he created in collaboration with Walter Gropius.

A major Exhibition of Breuer's work was shown at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in November 1972, and at Paris' Louvre Museum in the summer of 1974. More recently, in 2002 The Smithsonian Institution created an exhibition entitled Marcel Breuer: A Centennial Celebration

Marcel Breuer 1902-1981

AFPL Central Branch - Special Collections
Archives @ The Smithsonian Institution

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Special Interest, A Campaign of Disinformation


The Atlanta-Fulton Central Library, built by legendary architect Marcel Breuer is one of the most iconic structures in Atlanta. However, there appears to be (by default) a stealth campaign, orchestrated by elements within the local government - namely Fulton County Commissioner Rob Pitts and Library Director John Szabo, who think this building is of no use and needs to go away - to muddle and confuse the well-documents issue at hand. Which is that Szabo and Pitts was quoted by another commissioner, Lynn Riley, as stating that Pitts et all were attempting to do the unthinkable.. with Riley saying "it was disappointing that a comprehensive library facility master plan could be hijacked for an un-substantiated purpose".

However, now that these same individuals - Szabo and Pitts - have been made aware that a growing movement for preservation is underway, they - particularly Mr. Szabo - have been disseminating information through what would appear to be one or more "covert" operatives who go about claiming - on chat boards, architectural sites and hearsay conversations - that they have inside information to the fact that the site is not at risk, further stating that there is no need for a preservation effort because the building is safe. I believe this rhetoric is coming from Szabo, because in a private conversation back in July 2008 (in the parking lot of the county commissioners building) John Szabo attempted to make me believe the same thing - even after he had endorsed Pitt's plan to strip all funding, using the money instead to build a new central. But if that is so, that the building is not threatened, then why don't Robb Pitts and John Sazbo just say that for themselves...on the record? Why don't they just hold a press conference and produce legally binding documents which provide such remarkable assurances? Yes, If John Szabo and Robb Pitts are committed to preserve the current Central Library, then why did they maneuver to defund the site of the originally proposed $34,000,000 for upgrades and renovation, and have been instead raising money ($84,000,000) to building a new site?

And furthermore, why is John Szabo on the record in this op-ed piece published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he passionately advocates building a new central, lavishing praise on Robb Pitts while making absolutely no mention that no one ever asked for a new central - that the existing central is an 8-story building, approximately 260,000 sq ft. in size, taking up a full city block - and only 28- years old..."serving it's purpose" quite well as stated by Isabelle Hyman, Professor Emerita at NYU - Guggenheim Fellow - author of Marcel Breuer, Architect:The Career And The Buildings. And why doesn't John Szabo, Rob Pitts or the Atlanta Journal-Constitution mention the fact that Mr. Szabo used to be the Library Director in Clearwater (Tampa) whereupon he successfully advocated for the existing Central Library there to be demolished and a new one built...with that exact thing having happened. Then no less than 5 years later he's in Atlanta, attempting to do the same thing.

Hello? Are we to believe that all this is mere coincidence!

But most importantly, why has none of these questions been answered, when one considers that when all is said and done, the entire cost of restructuring the totality of the Atlanta-Fulton Library System could easily go from the orginally stated $225,000,000 to something like $500,000,000 when one considers all the costs of building a massive new central. I mean, just what is the going rate of purchasing an entire city block these days? I mean, even in these hard times, I would imagine that an entire city block of AAA property would still cost a very pretty penny...and that's just the land!!!

Are John Szabo and Rob Pitts bold faced liars who seem to have no shame? I think so. And I suspect, as with the debacle with The Atlanta-Fulton Buchead Public Library, that it's just a matter of time before it gets revealed that there is some "good old boy" back-room scheme going on, of which to funnel this public property into private hands. But they - the misguided and corrupt -failed with Buckhead (for now) and they will fail with Central.

So I say to Szabo and Pitts...THE GIG IS UP!

Please read and sign our petition here, and help to put a stop to the insanity in Atlanta.

We ask for your support.