A Dramatic Transformation
If you read the highly entertaining and informative cover story in the last issue of Georgia State University Magazine, you know that Kell Hall, an iconic building in the middle of the Atlanta Campus, is about to come down.
The state legislature has authorized $5 million in bonds for our Kell Hall project, so after years of planning we have started the long-awaited demolition of the structure and part of Library Plaza. Their removal will make way for Georgia State’s new signature gathering space at the center of the Atlanta Campus, which is the cornerstone of the university’s campus master plan.
Crews began the demolition of Kell Hall in April, and work will progress through the summer. They’ve also started the process of removing the elevated Library Plaza platform surrounded by Kell Hall, Sparks Hall, Courtland and Collins streets, and Library North. We expect both structures to be gone by the end of 2019.
Once Kell and this section of the plaza are cleared, we will replace them with a communal greenspace on the ground level. Complete with benches and new trees, this central social space is the first phase of the university’s greenway. Transforming entire blocks of major downtown streets, the greenway will eventually consist of landscaped quadrangles and courtyards that thread throughout the Atlanta Campus to link Woodruff Park to the Petit Science Center.
A new walkway through the greenspace will connect Peachtree Center Avenue to Collins Street. The Courtland Street gate will be moved a little to the north, where a new staircase will take students from the Courtland Street bridge directly to an entrance to Sparks Hall. And with Kell Hall no longer attached to the surrounding buildings, Langdale Hall, Arts & Humanities and Sparks Hall will get façade improvements.
Other sections of Library Plaza, which rise up between Langdale Hall and Library North, will remain, joining the ground-level greenway via another new staircase and a set of elevators. While the U Lot and the Langdale Hall loading dock will stay underneath the surviving section of the plaza, a wall of trellises supporting decorative plants will screen the area from view for people enjoying the greenway. We are also taking measures to preserve as many of the dawn redwoods planted around the plaza as possible.
Early next year, when this work is expected to be completed, we will start building an entirely new façade for Library North that includes a vastly improved entrance, which we hope to finish by the end of 2020. We have the funding for these renovations, which are in the planning stages.
These projects, anticipated by the university community for so long, will provide a vibrant gathering place and pedestrian thoroughfare for our students, faculty and staff as well as residents, workers and visitors.
Kell Hall, a utilitarian building that served the university in so many eclectic ways, is once again the center of attention on our campus. But this time, it’s the site of a redevelopment project that will transform the university for years to come.
Mark P. Becker