Atlanta's best architecture: Center for Civil and Human Rights

October 21,2015


This year, Atlanta Business Chronicle is giving architects a chance to highlight the city’s best architecture.

Next up, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, a focal point for dialogue about civil rights across the world.

Since its opening in June 2014, the Center has elevated Atlanta to a new level in contemporary architecture design, becoming one of the city’s most exciting attractions in decades, says Garfield Peart, president of Syntony Design Collaborative LLC, a sustainable design firm and member of the American Institute of Architects, Atlanta.

Architect Phil Freelon and HOK designed the Center, which Peart says, “uniquely distinguishes itself both with its architecture and mission.” Peart adds, “It’s a place that aptly frames the historical and modern day stories of America’s civil and human rights experience.”

The 43,000-square-foot museum, which houses material from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, stands in Pemberton Place, a downtown Atlanta plaza that includes city attractions such as the World of Coke Museum and Georgia Aquarium.

The Center has racked up a host of awards since its opening: the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities. It also received recognition as the No. 2 design in Atlanta in the Museum of Design Atlanta’s Top 25 Designs from the Past 25 Years and Urban Land Institute’s Atlanta Development of Excellence award.

Last year, Interior Design Magazine also named the Center Best of Year in the exhibitions category. “The distinctive feature of the building is its form," Peart says, " a prominent symbol of progress not only for civil and human rights but for Atlanta contemporary architecture. The exterior ... is dominated by two major sloped walls, which represent a pair of powerful hands nurturing its contents.”

A monumental stair starts on the ground level at the King exhibit. Peart says, “The stairs symbolize that progressive rise in consciousness from the foundation and history of the movement to today and beyond.”