Spared from a potential demolition in 2016, the late work by master Brutalist architect Marcel Breuer that is Central Atlanta Library has nearly finished an extensive renovation project that was embroiled in preservationist controversy for years.

Which begs the question: Was all the fuss justified?

Standing at One Margaret Mitchell Square, an onlooker notices how the iconic 1980 structure by the internationally renowned modernist—Breuer’s final completed work before his death a year later, no less—definitely appears cleaner. Maybe lighter, less dominate. Signage is updated, landscaping and common areas improved. The main source of contention with designs led by Atlanta-based firm Cooper Carry—the windows chiseled into the façade—are also finished. So has Breuer’s original vision been desecrated, as preservationists feared?

Whatever the case, the $50-million redo of Breuer’s only Atlanta work is all but finished now.

watermark The facility with new window banks fronting Forsyth Street, as seen this month. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Major construction has wrapped, and a few final items such as computer installation remain to be completed inside, as Claudia Strange, Fulton County Library System spokesperson, told Urbanize Atlanta.

“We now begin the massive task of moving back in,” Strange wrote in an email. “[That entails] unpacking materials, setting up all the new floors with books and other materials, preparing all the public service areas with all the exciting new amenities the new building will offer.”    

The facility has been closed to the public since summer 2018 in preparation for renovations, which included an overhaul of interiors in addition to the installation of more light-conducive windows.

watermark Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

Tentative plans call for hosting “some kind of semi-grand opening” for the public later this summer, pending COVID-19 restrictions, Strange said.

“I’m sure you can see from the outside that the transformation is amazing,” she said, “and we can’t wait to share it with the public."

In the gallery above, see photos of the landmark building from a recent visit, contrasted with pre-renovation pictures, and please do share your thoughts.

Downtown news (Urbanize Atlanta)