Tag Archives: museum

more than just bad design.

What is it with putting additions on the FRONT of a building?? The award-winning design mentioned in my previous post by super-awesome, forward-thinking (heh) architects Gamble + Gamble, proposed a boxy front addition that reaches for the sidewalk while completely covering up one of the building’s most significant and identifying features: the Clermont Hotel sign. This exhibition of conceited architectural prowess in a [just-for-fun right?] design competition pales in comparison with what the Center for Puppetry Arts intends to do, nay, IS doing (?!?!) with their building. Sometimes I fear that these dramatically insensitive designs are examples of architects trying “think outside the box” but it is as if the design process wasn’t complete, like this was just one crazy brainstorm idea from an intern, a devil’s advocate suggestion that someone took seriously! It was meant to be revised a million more times before it went to press and—oops.


“This raises some serious questions. First of all, that design won a competition?” (commenter, Rees)

Maria Saporta is pretty much the sole reporter on the intended shoebox addition, and I can’t add much to her thorough report on the subject: Spring Street Elementary School about to disappear behind the Center for Puppetry Arts museum expansion

Ordinarily I would be thrilled to see one of Atlanta’s premier cultural institutions doubling in size and attracting a world-renowned collection as significant as Jim Henson’s puppets… but… the expanded design of the Center will completely shield the historic Spring Street school from Spring Street — with a window-less, bland structure built to house the Henson collection.

As another commenter puts it, “I’m all for modern architecture, but this is bad.”

It IS bad, I went up there myself to check it out, to see if it was true that they needed to build this addition JUST SO. I found the mock-ups of the addition (still in black and white just as you see here) proudly displayed in the atrium, the atrium which looks out onto Spring Street but does not, and will not, open to it. It brings me to another of Maria Saporta’s concerns and I’d say, her most important one:

The expansion plans for the Center for Puppetry Arts seem to go counter to all of Midtown’s development guidelines—a new faceless building with no uses that relate to the street, a new development that does not respect the historic and urban texture of the community, an expansion that removes green space in order to preserve surface parking spaces and a structure that discourages the establishment of a walkable environment.

It’s true, “It’s unfortunate they didn’t take more cues from Freelon’s proposal during the competition for the expansion. Which would have properly addressed both streets as well as maintaned the character of the original school’s front—including maintaining a larger portion of the green space in front of the school’s original entrance” (arctk2011tj). They fail to take advantage of their 17th St. side, to provide access or interest from the visible Spring St. side (the Atrium already goes through the building, how about a front door AND a back door?), and, looking at the aerial below, how in the world did ANYONE think the front yard was the best place for an addition to begin with??

aerial PuppetryArts property

Ms. Saporta implies that the die has been cast, the Midtown Design Review Commission cannot go back on their decision, the trees have been cut (actually). But some express hope that a change will come, and I wish it would.

“Perhaps the Center for Puppetry Arts board of directors should put the breaks on this and consider more input from local citizens and discussion of funding requirements to develop an architectural design which can stand the test of time and enhance the area which already suffers with dullness.”

(look, i didn’t even argue about the historic significance of the original building)

wren’s nest

honestly, a wren’s nest in the mailbox is nothing new, nothing special to any one place though it is marvelous. We’ve almost always had wren’s nesting in our mailbox in jackson (ever since dad built this one at least—that note is to the mailman to please use the alternate mailbox) but we didn’t go and name a dang house after the phenomenon!

The Wren’s Nest IS special. I managed to drag B over there a few weeks ago on a Saturday and we got stuck listening to some storytelling. Stuck is relative, i loved it. When it was done, however, we were hungry and I opted to come back another time and “observe the interior of the house”, my real purpose. Joel Chandler Harris moved to this farmhouse in West End, Georgia, back in 1881. He’d married in 1873 and had a young family which he’d recently uprooted from Savannah in an attempt to escape the yellow fever. He was an author and journalist then, though the Brer Rabbit stories wouldn’t come til the late 1890s. The property then was 5 acres of “country” land, called a “snap bean farm” he would renovate the small Folk Victorian house in 1884/85 to become the Eastlake-style Victorian delight that it is today.

While i listened, interested obviously, to my tour guide, i was jotting notes on the interior design and furnishings. The intricate, usually floral Victorian wallpaper throughout, particularly the Art Nouveau sample in the living room, picture molding, wallpapered ceilings, floor cloths, a mismatched chair at the dining room table, beadboard wainscoting, the oak, late 1800’s golden oak furniture everywhere and the oak woodwork in the house was gorgeous. I have a new favorite. It made me sad that the girls at Sunshine found the golden oak dining room set hideously out-of-date in the 30s and demanded their papa replace it. I wish i knew what it looked like! Yes, I could live comfortably among the busy patterns and dark woodwork of Joel Chandler Harris’s house while reading up on all his books in the reading room or on his front porch. What a lovely life that would be.

now, if you’ve been following any of my links you may have noticed how much fun it is to read about the Wren’s Nest house museum on their website and blog, it might be due to the fact that their young(er than me??) Executive Director is of the Professional Organization of English Majors and also great-great-great grandson of Harris himself. Anyway, i recommend reading, visiting, and participating!