Construction of Brittain Dining Hall

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Named after President Marion L. Brittain[1], Brittain Dining Hall was the first dining facility opened on Georgia Tech's campus. Located on Techwood Drive near North Avenue, it was officially opened to the public on September 22, 1928. Brittain Dining Hall was the first dining facility on campus that offered "all students who wish [to] be provided with food by the school and at a very low rate of cost." At the time, it was estimated that the new dining hall would be able to serve 1,000 students within an hour. [2]

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Marion L. Brittain

In 1922, Marion Luther Brittain was elected fourth president of the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1927, Brittain embarked on a school funded trip to Europe, where he bought several pieces of art, one of which - a replica of a recumbent gladiator in Carrara marble - he had placed in the new Brittain Dining Hall. During his 22 years as president, Brittain managed to raise funding for 22 new buildings and increased the value of the school to $4,500,000 by the end of 1944. [3]

In addition to contributing to the growth of Georgia Tech's campus, Brittain is also known for improving the school's relationship with the state government. Before Brittain's involvement, each Georgia school had to fight for funding. However, Brittain believed that a system under which a board of trustees would distribute funding to Georgia's many colleges and universities would be more efficient. In 1930, Brittain gave his first speech on the issue and gained the backing of many well-known Georgia educators. On August 28, 1931, Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. signed an act that created the University System of Georgia and the Board of Regents to supervise it. However, there were still many problems in the system. One of Brittain's major concerns was that there were no Georgia Tech alumni on the new Board of Regents and that the majority of the members were alumni of the University of Georgia. In addition, in 1933 the Board moved all engineering work to Georgia Tech and the entire Commerce Department to the University of Georgia because the University of Georgia had practically no engineering majors, but Georgia Tech had 447 students in the commerce department, so Brittain saw this as an unfair solution. [3]

Brittain drastically increased the size and national recognition of Georgia Tech. He also fought for adequate funding for the school. In 1944, at the age of 78, Brittain retired to write a history of Georgia Tech.


Unlike the rest of the nation in the late 1920s, which leaned towards a more modernistic architectural style, Georgia Tech's Campus still favored a Gothic architectural style for its buildings. This aspect of Georgia Tech's campus was clearly indicated by the addition of Brittain Dining Hall in 1928. The architecture firm, Bush-Brown and Gailey, was responsible for designing the dining hall. Though the architectural firm was contracted to design Brittain Dining Hall, many other Georgia Tech departments also contributed to its construction. Georgia Tech’s textile department designed and crafted drapes for the President’s Dining Room, and the Ceramic Department designed the floor tiles of the President’s Dining Room. The overall cost for Brittain Dining Hall was $125,000. The Greater Georgia Tech Fund and the Athletic Association helped to fund the construction. [4]

Brittain Dining Hall from across courtyard
Students eating in Brittain Dining Hall

Harold Brown

In 1921, Harold Bush-Brown became a Professor of Architecture at Georgia Tech. In 1925, he succeeded James L. Skinner as the head of the school of Architecture, and in 1943, Bush-Brown became President of the Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. After 31 years at Georgia Tech, Bush-Brown retired from Georgia Tech in 1956. [4]

James Gailey

In 1912, James Herbert Gailey became the first full time architecture instructor at Georgia Tech and by 1921, he was promoted to Associate Professor. In 1923, Gailey studied for 13 months in Europe. When he returned in 1925, Gailey was promoted to full professor. Soon after that he partnered with Harold Bush-Brown, forming the Bush-Brown Gailey architecture firm. In 1958, he retired. [4]



  1. "Brittain Hall restoration under way", The Whistle [Volume 25, Number 10];
  2. "Modern Dining Hall Formally Opened", Technique [Volume 18, Issue 00];
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ray and Associates, "Historic Structure Report: Brittain Dining Hall," chapter 2, in Georgia Tech Archives Digital Collections, Item #5692,
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ray and Associates, "Historic Structure Report: Brittain Dining Hall," chapter 1, in Georgia Tech Archives Digital Collections, Item #5692,
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