Architecture Building

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College of Architecture ca. 1952

The Architecture Building is located at UNIQ1f4688287fc962d8-geo-00000000-QINU. On September 20, 1952, a new building for Georgia Tech's College of Architecture was constructed. This development marked numerous beginnings and changes. Though in line with the trends of the 1950s, the building was unique in architectural style, differing in both material and in form from its constructed contemporaries. It was the first construction for a college of architecture funded, though only partially, by the General Education Board [1]. It also marked the start of expansions in the curriculum and programs offered within the College of Architecture. Perhaps most importantly, the construction symbolically reinforced the importance of architecture in curricula and the surrounding world.

The building was divided into a North and a South wing. The two wings were connected by an overpass, allowing students an easy passage between buildings. A large auditorium meant to house around 300 students was added as a direct result of a state mandate. The building also featured a library, drafting rooms, an outdoor courtyard, exhibition rooms, and faculty offices [2].


Historical Context

Georgia Tech and the Nation

The economic and ideological situation of a post-World War II America provides the historical context for the campus growth of the 1950s. The finish of World War II gave a renewed sense of optimism to American institutes of higher learning. This sentiment, coupled with the immense ambition of Georgia Tech’s president, Blake Ragsdale Van Leer, sparked a dramatic growth of the university’s campus. The College of Architecture Building was one of the many buildings added in the decade following the war. The building was completed in 1952 under the direction of Harold Bush-Brown, the head of the College of Architecture [3].

The Project in Context

Though its historical context places the 1952 Architecture Building among numerous others, the Architecture building is unique in many ways. Most importantly, it was the first state-funded building meant to house a college of architecture. Also, due to the nature of the school of architecture, the faculty of the time had a substantial influence of the building’s design and construction . The collaborative process between the college and other design businesses certainly sets the building apart from other constructions of the time. The building was considered a very expensive construction for the time; the project in total cost near one million dollars. The building is substantially more stark and simplistic in design as compared with the other buildings on Georgia Tech’s campus. In keeping with an architectural style in vogue at the time, the architects intended for the exclusion of superfluous ornamentation to force a viewer to concentrate on the structure and form of the building, thus reinforcing the purpose of the school.

The 1950s College of Architecture

In the 1950s, Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture was among the largest in the nation. In fact, the school was the biggest architecture college associated with an American university offering a technology-based education. Then, the school included a little less than 300 students. As a result of the new building construction, the college added two new programs, Industrial Design and City Planning. The Architecture program of the time had acquired a good reputation, congruent with the other educational offerings of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The college was the first in the southern United States to be accepted into Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. In addition, Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture was among the first architectural schools to be accredited.

Features of the Building

Style and Material

Architecture East Building

Georgia Tech’s 1952 College of Architecture Building, differs greatly from other buildings on campus. The design takes away the distractions of man-made ornamentation, and in displaying only the bare necessities, directs attention to structure and function. This minimalism is achieved through a the use of concrete as the main material of construction. This material is far more bland and uniform in tone then the brick which composes the exteriors of many of Tech’s other historic buildings. The light tone of the concrete is matched by the emphasis given to natural light in the design of the building. Much of the exterior is formed of large windows framed in aluminum. These windows were designed with careful attention paid to the sun’s movement in the sky. Windows face north and south, so as the sun travels east to west, the building receives uniform sunlight [4].

In fact, this acknowledgment of and adaptation to environment defines much of the structure of the construction. Instead of lying on a flat plane, the 1952 Architecture Building straddles a hill. Partial-stories and outdoor stairs combat the inherent problems posed by this terrain. Overall, the building blends with its surrounding environment. This was achieved through the means of openness, a blending of the indoor and the outdoor. Both a garden and an elevated passageway between the building’s two wings were included to reemphasize the fusion of building and environment.

Rooms and Other Building Features

As mentioned before, the 61,563 square-foot College of Architecture Building consists of a North and a South wing. The two are connected by an overpass.

The South Wing has two stories. Most notably, this wing contained a partially-underground, air-conditioned auditorium. This addition was designed to accommodate all the students of the College of Architecture, which at the time consisted of just under 300 students. Exhibition and judgment rooms are also located in the South Wing. These exhibition rooms were designed to house a number of traveling art shows. Finally, both the director’s office and a staff room were included in this wing.

The North Wing was composed of four and one-half stories. Three of these stories are ground levels. The top level includes student drafting rooms, class rooms, faculty offices, and a shop.

Influential Design and Construction Parties

The design of the building was planned by Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture faculty under the direction of Harold Bush-Brown and the Gailey and Heffernan architectural firm. J.J. Pollard was the structural engineer. E. Gritschke and Associates designed the mechanical plant. JA Jones Construction was the General Contractor [5].

Dedication Ceremony

The completion of the 1952 College of Architecture Building was celebrated by a dedication ceremony. The festivities began at 10:30 A.M. on Saturday, September 20, 1952 [6]. A dedication address was given by then Georgia Tech president Blake Ragsdale Van Leer. An invocation was given by Reverend James H. Gailey of Spring Hill Presbyterian Church. Robert A. Arnold presented the key to the building to President Van Leer. There were several notable speakers at the event. Georgia governor (at the time) Herman Telmadge delivered a speech. Glenn Stanton, the president of the American Institute of Architects, also spoke at the occasion. To celebrate the special addition of gallery space, an art exhibit was shown as a part of the dedication festivities [7].


  1. A Change for the Better
  2. Notes on the Architecture Building
  3. Notes on the Architecture Building
  4. A Change for the Better
  5. Architecture Building
  6. Dedications, Architecture Building
  7. Architecture Building, from The Engineer View

Source Summaries

Source Summary:Notes on the Architecture Building

Source Summary:A Change for the Better

Source Summary:Architecture Building

Source Summary:Dedications, Architecture Building

Source Summary: Architecture Building, from The Engineer View

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