Friday, August 21, 2009

2009 Places in Peril: Crum & Forster Building, Atlanta

The Story: Built in 1928, as the southern branch of the Crum and Forster Insurance Company, this office building is a rare example of classically designed architecture in Midtown Atlanta. It was designed by a team of architects including the New York firm of Helme, Corbett, and Harrison Architects and the Atlanta firm of Ivey and Crook. Helme, Corbett, and Harrison was a highly regarded firm responsible for the design of Rockefeller Center, LaGuardia Airport and the United Nations Building. Atlanta architects Ed Ivey and Lewis Crook were trained in classical architecture design at Georgia Tech during the early years of Tech’s School of Architecture.

The Threat: The Georgia Tech Foundation purchased the Crum and Forster Building in 2007 in order to expand nearby Technology Square. In May 2008 the Foundation applied for a Special Administrative Permit to demolish the building.

The Solution: After several well attended public meetings and the circulation of a petition signed by over 2000 people opposing the building’s demolition, Atlanta’s Bureau of Planning denied the Georgia Tech Foundation’s request. Recently the Crum and Forster Building was nominated as a local landmark building, which would further protect it from demolition. Both actions currently are under appeal.

Update: At its August 17, 2009 meeting, the Atlanta City Council voted 14 - 0 to adopt an ordinance making the Crum and Forster Building a local landmark building. This ordinance needs to be signed by Mayor Shirley Franklin in order to become law.

The owner of the building, the Georgia Tech Foundation has applied for a demolition permit to tear down this Italian Renaissance Revival building on Spring Street. It was designed by Atlanta Architect Lewis C. Crook, Jr and by the New York architectural firm, Helme, Corbett & Harrison in 1926. This New York firm designed Rockefeller Center and worked on the United Nations Building and other notable structures.

The Georgia Trust would like to thank Philip Covin, Chair of the Advocacy Committee of the Atlanta Preservation Center and the hundreds of citizens who have spoken out against the demolition of this significant historic building.

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