Saturday, October 18, 2008

Georgia's Places in Peril 2009

The Crum & Forster is among a list of ten Places in Peril across the state of Georgia identified by The Georgia Trust.

In recognition of these historically significant buildings, a reception will be held on October 28, 2008, 6-8 p.m. at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta. Please attend and find out how you can help save Georgia's most imperiled places.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

At the UDC again today!

The Crum and Forster Building comes before the Urban Design Commission (UDC) again this Wednesday, September 24th, 4pm, City Hall.

This issue was previously presented to the UDC on August 27th for nomination for Landmark Building status and was unanimously approved. However, due to a technicality, this presentation must be repeated this Wednesday, Sept. 24th. Although not critical, it would be great to have supporters in the audience.

Urban Design Commission Meeting
Wednesday, September 24th, 4 p.m.
City Hall, City Council Chambers
55 Trinity Avenue SW, Atlanta, 30303
(Plan to arrive early; Crum Forster is first on the agenda.)

During the former presentation the GT Foundation made it clear that they still seek the demolition permit for this elegant building and intend to focus on appealing the denial of the demo permit by the City of Atlanta. The upcoming meetings in November address these issues. Your support at these meetings will be critical.

November 21, Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA):
GTF will present its appeal of its denied demolition permit.

November (TBD - either Nov. 6th or 13th), Zoning Review Board (ZBA):
Crum and Forster will be presented to the Board for review of Landmark Building status.

Again, thank you for your interest and continued support!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Landmark status update

According to Jim Auchmutey's article on 8/27, Atlanta's Urban Design Commission voted unanimously to landmark the Crum & Forster building. But the Georgia Tech Foundation is appealing the earlier decision to reject their application for a demolition permit. That hearing will come before the Board of Zoning Adjustment on Nov 21.

There will be more meetings still, on two tracks it seems: 1) fighting the appeal of the denial of the demolition permit, and 2) going through the landmarking process with Zoning and the City Council.

Preservation is a lot of work!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Date of Public Hearing

Karen Huebner's letter to the GTF had the incorrect date for the public hearing. It's actually going to be held on Wednesday, Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. in City Council chambers.

Be there!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Demolition Permit Denied!!!

On Friday the City of Atlanta, in the face of strong public opinion, denied the GTF's application to demolish the Crum & Forster. Further, the city will pursue landmark status for the building and nothing is allowed to be touched on it for 180 days. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, August 23, 2008.

Here's the letter from the Urban Design Commission, reprinted from Maria Saporta's article:

July 11, 2008

Mr. Mark W. Long, Secretary Georgia Tech Foundation Real Estate Holding Corporation 760 Spring St., NW, 4th Floor Atlanta, GA 30308-1028


Dear Sir:

This office has been informed that the Special Administrative Permit (SAP-08-24) for the property located at 771 Spring Street, NW, has been denied by the Bureau of Planning.

Due to its historic, cultural and architectural significance, and in accordance with the City of Atlanta’s Historic Preservation Ordinance (see enclosed), Section 16-20.005(b) of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta, this letter constitutes official Notice of Intent to Nominate the Crum & Forster Building and the real property located at 771 Spring Street, NW, Land Lot 80, in the 14th District (hereafter referred to collectively as the “property” and as shown on the enclosed map, which is incorporated herein by reference). This property is proposed for nomination to the zoning category of Landmark Building/Site (LBS). The property is currently zoned SPI-16 (sub area 1) The Zoning Committee may modify this nomination to another category as provided by Section 16-20.006(b).

You are hereby further advised that the Urban Design Commission of the City of Atlanta will hold a public hearing regarding this proposed nomination on Wednesday, August 23, 2008, beginning at 4 p.m. This hearing will be held in the Atlanta City Council Chambers, Second Floor, City Hall Complex, 55 Trinity Avenue, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia. Also enclosed is a copy of the Commission’s Rules of Procedure that will be used during the hearing. The owner(s), or his or her representative(s), will have a reasonable opportunity to present testimony and other evidence concerning the historical, cultural and architectural significance of the property, or lack thereof. The public will also be allowed a reasonable opportunity to be heard, and may present testimony or other evidence regarding the same considerations.

Please be further advised that, in accordance with Section 16-20.005.C. of the Code of Ordinances, the property herein referenced is protected and controlled by these regulations to the extent provided by that category of protection to which it has been nominated. This protection begins on the above date of this Notice of Intent to Nominate and continues for a maximum of 180 days. During this interim development control period, no alterations of any kind are permitted on this property unless the required Certificates of Appropriateness for such alterations have been secured from the Urban Design Commission of the City of Atlanta.

You are invited to carefully read the enclosed Historic Preservation Ordinance. This Notice of Intent to Nominate is the first step in the process of reviewing the property for possible nomination and designation to one of several categories of historic protection. The Urban Design Commission staff is in the process of preparing a detailed report on this property, which will be available for public review approximately ten days prior to the public hearing referenced above. After the public hearing, the Urban Design Commission will decide whether or not to nominate your property for designation to a category of historic protection. If the Commission nominates the property, the Zoning Committee of the Atlanta City Council will introduce an ordinance to designate the property to the appropriate category of historic protection. That ordinance will then go through the City’s procedure for all zoning papers, which includes another public hearing before the Zoning Review Board prior to final designation action by the Atlanta City Council.

For further information or questions concerning this matter, please contact the Urban Design Commission at 404-330-6200.

Very truly yours,

Karen Huebner Executive Director

Attachments 1. Atlanta Historic Preservation Ordinance 2. Map of the Property 3. Urban Design Commission Rules of Procedure 4. Economic Incentives Summary

cc: James Shelby, Deputy Commissioner Department of Planning and Community Development & Acting Director Bureau of Code Compliance
Ibrahim Maslamani, Director Bureau of Buildings Ann Heard, Chief Zoning Enforcement

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Front Page News!

Our little building made the front page of the AJC today! Here's a link to Jim Auchmutey's story.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

GTF issues statement

Regarding the Crum & Forster building, today the GTF issued the following statement:

Statement on 771 Spring Street by the Georgia Tech Foundation July 9, 2008

As previously stated, the Georgia Tech Foundation is continuing its efforts to consider all options concerning the property located at 771 Spring Street. To that end, the Foundation has engaged Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects, Inc., an Atlanta firm specializing in Historic Preservation and Urban Infill projects, to further study the potential rehabilitation of the building and the possibility of incorporating it into the Technology Square expansion. Their initial report should be available for review no later than the first week in August.

The Foundation’s stated goal of expanding Technology Square in support of Georgia Tech’s long range strategic plan remains a priority. Community leaders will continue to be included in discussions to help determine what is most appropriate for the expansion as was the case with the planning process for the development of the original Technology Square project. A major part of the success of Technology Square has been attributed to the interaction between Georgia Tech and community leaders.

Kudos to the GTF!

Friday, June 27, 2008

DRC Votes to Oppose Demolition

Maria Saporta's AJC article lists the highlights from last night's DRC meeting.

Like every other neighborhood meeting at which Tech has presented its case, board and audience members expressed strong opposition to the proposed Crum & Forster demolition. Georgia Tech students, faculty, and alumni spoke eloquently and passionately, urging the Georgia Tech Foundation to save the historical building.

Notably, the director of Georgia Tech's architecture program, Ellen Dunham Jones, offered the resources of her school to help the GTF find other alternatives. Aaron Fowler, the Graduate President of Tech's student government, also urged the GTF to consider adaptive reuse, a core component of Tech's City Planning curriculum. I hope the irony of this isn't lost on anyone: the GTF's mission is to "assist the Georgia Institute of Technology in its role as a leading educational and research institution". When two leaders of that institute must use a public forum to urge the GTF to stop "assisting", something is very wrong! By not being open about their requirements for the space, the GTF is embarrassing itself, alienating the Midtown community and diminishing the academic reputation of the institute its mission it is to protect.

So the DRC will recommend to Atlanta's Planning Board not to issue the demolition permit. Will that recommendation be enough to save the Crum & Forster?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Contact Info for "Deciders"

These are the people who hold the most influence over the fate of the historic Crum & Forster building. Please write or call and tell them you believe 771 Spring St should be preserved.

Another Voice Speaks Out

Local attorney Michael Bishop urges AJC readers to preserve the Crum & Forster.

Remember to circle June 26th on your calendar. That's the date of the final review of Tech's application to destroy the building before the DRC at 999 Peachtree, Suite 145 (lobby level). The meeting will start at 5:30pm.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Good News and Bad News

First the good: the turnout for the NPU-E meeting last night (6/3) was good. As usual, there was strong opposition to the demolition expressed eloquently by many. After Tech made some opening remarks, those attending were asked to stand if they wished to preserve the building. Most of the room did, and then all but one of the board stood as well. It was a clear message to Georgia Tech.

But the bad news is that Tech is still intent on destroying the beautiful Crum & Forster building.

The next step is the final D.R.C meeting on Thursday, June 26 at 5:30pm. It will be held at 999 Peachtree, Suite 145 (lobby level).

After that, the application will be considered by the City of Atlanta's Bureau of Planning. Please let them hear your concerns.

Click here for more details from last night's meeting.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Upcoming NPU Meeting

Last night's (5/29) MNA meeting went very well! The board voted unanimously to oppose the Georgia Tech Foundation's application to demolish the Crum & Forster building.

It's not over yet, however. The GTF will next present its case at the Neighborhood Planning Unit meeting on Tuesday June 3 at Peachtree Christian Church. The meeting starts at 6:30pm.

We need everyone to come out and show your support for saving this architecturally and historically significant building - especially Tech students and alumni wearing their Tech gear!

Monday, May 26, 2008

MNA board meeting

The next group to hear the Georgia Tech Foundation's proposal to demolish the Crum & Forster building will be the monthly board meeting of the Midtown Neighborhood Association on Thursday, May 29th.

Please come and lend your support.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Submitted Sketches of 771 Spring

As previously mentioned in the post entitled "The Importance of Saving the Crum & Forster", on "May 17th Georgia Tech students, aspiring young architects, and Georgia Tech Alums conducted a sketching tour of the building". Below are the sketches I received from the attendees of the sketching day.

Drawn by Paul Knight

Drawn by Clay Rokicki

Drawn by Clay Rokicki

Committee Votes Resoundingly to Oppose Demolition

Last night, the Midtown Land Use Committee voted to oppose Georgia Tech's application to demolish the Crum & Forster building. From Maria Saporta's article:
Neighbors, Georgia Tech students, architects, local businessmen and historic preservationists described the foundation’s plan as “unfathomable,” “astonishing,” “arrogant” and “insensitive.”

One community activist even yelled out that the demolition would only go forward “over my dead body.” Someone else in the audience chimed in: “Mine too.”

Tech will present its case before the Midtown Neighbors Association board next week and the Neighborhood Planning Unit next month. Please continue to show your support at these hearings.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Importance of Saving the Crum & Forster

Contributed by Jonathan LaCrosse

Educational values

Routinely Georgia Tech Professors from the College of Architecture and members of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America ask their students to study the building. As recently as May 17th Georgia Tech students, aspiring young architects, and Georgia Tech Alums conducted a sketching tour of the building. Conversely SCAD, which has a competing Architecture Program, has made great strides in the City of Atlanta, especially with their renovation of the Peters Mansion. As a GA Tech alum I find it hard to accept that a competing Architecture program was given the opportunity to renovate and restore the house of the very man who donated the land to create Georgia Tech. In other words, Georgia Tech should have been given the opportunity. If the Crum & Forster building were given over to the College of Architecture, it could then develop a viable alternative for the site, the College would thus gain some ground with its competition. Competition I might add, that is now in our very backyard.

Architectural and Historical Value

Inspired by Italian Renaissance details, the building combines such rare elements as a pulvinated brick frieze, monolithic limestone columns, and wrought iron grillage. The building is unique, eccentric and one of a kind. Architects, TVS & Associates incorporated references to this building when making material choices and height/scale decisions. While not protected it has for years been considered a contributing landmark by the City of Atlanta, the AIA, the Midtown Alliance, and the Atlanta Preservation Center, just to name a few. The Crum & Forster Building's architectural significance have been documented in significant publications: Atlanta Urban Design Commission's Atlanta Historic Resources Workbook (1981), Atlanta's Lasting Landmarks (1987), Lewis Edmund Crook, Jr. "A Twentieth-Century Traditionalist In The Deep South" (1984) and The American Institute of Architects Guide to Atlanta (1992).

The building was designed by Helme, Corbett, and Harrison Architects from New York, associated with Ivey and Crook Architects from Atlanta. It is an excellent example of a renowned world-class Architectural firm partnering with an Atlanta Architectural firm.

Ivey and Crook Architects of Atlanta:
Both Ivey and Crook were educated at Georgia Tech, and studied under the tutelage of premier architect and academic Francis Palmer Smith. This building is considered to be representative of the type of Beaux-Arts projects and student exercises of Francis Smith's architecture program. Ivey was instrumental in establishing Georgia Tech's College of Architecture and is credited as a "student founder" of the program. A program which celebrates its 100 year anniversary this year. Crook was equally renowned. The firm did such notable work as the Emory President's House, The Candler Library at Emory, the Olympia Building, the Andrews-Dunn House, as well as many
notable buildings across Atlanta and the Southeast.

Helme, Corbett, and Harrison Architects from New York
The firm is highly regarded and renowned, having produced many signature buildings in New York City. They were responsible for the Design of Rockefeller Center, one of the first urban mixed use projects in the country. Wallace Harrison is considered one the great American architects of the twentieth century. He would later go on to design such infamous buildings as the Trylon and Perisphere at the 1939 World's fair, LaGuardia Airport, the United Nations Headquarters, Lincoln Center, and the Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.

The Crum and Forster Building may be the only building in the South remaining from this firm.

It was constructed by Carr Construction Company. The formwork used for the concrete frame was well advanced and way before its time.

Urbanistic and Neighborhood value

To demolish the building would not be in keeping with the urbanistic values that have made Technology Square such a success. Doing so would also be a huge step backwards from all the progress that has been made on the 5th street improvements, and would be an embarrassment to the Institute and the College of Architecture.

The Original Blueprint Midtown/Midtown Alliance survey teams in partnership with the Georgia Tech College of Architecture, the Atlanta Preservation Center, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the City Atlanta Urban Design Commission surveyed the buildings in Midtown. The net results of that survey identified the Crum & Forster Building as one of 15 buildings recommended for local designation as a Landmark Building.

The Blueprint Midtown survey stated that retaining Midtown's unique "sense of place" was among their highest priorities, of which this building contributes to heavily. Demolition of existing resources for development of surface parking and/or land banking was a strategy that new Midtown zoning strongly aspired to avoid.

Sustainable and Environmental Value

To tear down a building of this quality and soundness subverts its potential for reuse or redevelopment at a time when heightened environmental consciousness and sustainability issues point to reuse not demolition. The implications of destroying and disposing of usable materials into a landfill is at complete odds with the sustainable movement. Furthermore, considering that Georgia Tech, through its programs and Colleges espouses and fosters concepts of sustainability, urbanism, and architecture it would be hypocritical for the Institute to warrant demolition over re-use.

Economic Value

Considering the level of refined details, quality of construction, hand-carved limestone trim, finely executed brick-work, custom-made bricks, custom wrought copper fascia and cornice, monolithic limestone columns, overscaled wrought iron grillage entryway and lantern, overscaled double hung sash windows, concrete frame, exterior load bearing masonry walls, clay tiled roof, etc. etc. One could easily attach a price of between 300 to 400 dollars a square foot. With reportedly 35,000 square feet of space the building would thus cost around $10,500,000 to $14,000,000 to completely rebuild from scratch. Aside from the stolen copper flashing (which could be claimed on an insurance policy and replaced).the building is in sound shape. Anyone who remembers the Biltmore or Georgian Terrace before they were renovated would consider this a dream building to renovate. Incidentally the time, energy, and money devoted to demolition costs could easily be diverted to upgrade the building, if even required (if kept as its original use, little upgrades per code would be necessary.) Numerous examples of appropriate adaptive re-use could be considered. In Washington D.C., for example, historic street facades are required to remain. Developers preserve the existing street presence while building completely new structures behind.

It is a win, win situation for all.

AJC Article

An article from Maria Saporta, of the Atlanta Journal Constitution: No need to sacrifice 4 historic buildings.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Crum and Foster Building 771 Spring Street

1. The 1926 Crum and Foster Building is significant both for its Italian renaissance-inspired architecture and for its contribution to Atlanta’s stature as a regional headquarters town and corporate address of choice.

2. Development of the Crum and foster Building marks an excellent example of an Atlanta design firm partnered with a noted world-class firm. The unique partnership of Helme, Corbett & Harrison, Architects, NYC and Ivey and Crook, Architects, Atlanta. This is also part of an on-going legacy of architectural partnership between local and world-class out-of-town firms that continues today.

3. Original Blueprint midtown/Midtown Alliance survey teams in partnership with Georgia Tech College of Architecture, the Atlanta Preservation Center, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the City of Atlanta Urban Design Commission surveyed the Buildings in Midtown. The net results of that survey in 1999 identified the Crum and Foster Building as one of 15 buildings recommended for local designation as a Landmark building.

4. Blueprint midtown survey respondents stated that retaining Midtown’s unique ‘sense of place” was among their highest priorities. Whether experienced form its Spring Street streetscape or on the entrance steps leading to the buildings monumental round arches and colonnade, the Crum and Foster Building gives on a sense of being in a particular place and time.

5. Demolition of existing resources for development of surface parking and/or banking land was a strategy that new Midtown zoning strongly aspired to avoid.

6. Not only were the architects of the Crum and Foster Building, architects Ivey and Crook, graduates of Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture, but Ivey actually helped to establish the school as a student by writing a petition to the university president to start the architecture program 100 years ago this year.

7. The Crum and Foster Building’s history and architectural significance have been documented in significant publications: Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Atlanta Historic Resources Workbook (1981), Atlanta’s Lasting Landmarks, (1987), Lewis Edmond Crook, Jr. “A Twentieth-century Traditionalist in the Deep South” (1984) and The American Institute of Architects Guide to Atlanta (1992).

8. The Georgia Tech Master Plan indicates the site as only an area of strategic importance to the institute, but no specific development or planning guidelines are set in the plan for replacing the existing structure.

9. The Crum and Foster Building was integrated into the early strategic planning of Georgia Tech’s award winning Technology Square development. Architects, TVS & Associates incorporated references to this building and the adjacent Biltmore when making material choices and height/scale decisions.

10. Georgia Tech has outstanding urban planning and architectural programs, and its reputation suffers when the very principles those programs stand upon are set aside by expedient institutional policies.

11. To demolish a significant, structurally – sound 1926 historic building subverts its potential for reuse or redevelopment at a time when heightened environmental consciousness and sustainability issues point to reuse not demolition as the new ethos.

12. By its very presence, the Crum and Foster Building reminds us of a time in our city’s history when architectural design, human scale, and relationship to the street were important to promoting institutional excellence.

Where to Begin....

With the intent of expanding Technology Square, the Georgia Tech Foundation of the Georgia Institute of Technology, recently purchased the widely admired Crum & Foster Building located at 771 Spring Street. The Foundation proposes demolition of this architecturally historic gem; which based on their description, will be replaced by nothing but an empty lot fluffed by generic streetscape modifications. Constructed in 1926 and designed by Helme, Corbett, and Harrison in association with Ivey and Crook, the Crum and Foster Building not only greatly contributes to the aesthetics of Spring Street’s Eastern elevation, but is also among the few remaining classically designed historic buildings in Midtown. In this age of urban renewal, we, as a society, look towards those cities layered with history as exemplary models for our own development. The demolition of such a structure as the Crum & Foster Building would therefore be historically, architecturally, and environmentally irresponsible.

Please see our link at the side for the petition to save this remarkable structure.

Important Dates:

May 20th - 7PM - Midtown Land Use committee:
-Lutheran Church of the Redeemer - Corner of 4th and Peachtree
-If unable to attend, please voice concerns to the director of the committee, Tony Rizzuto at

June 3, 2008 - 6PM - NPU E meeting
-Peachtree Christian Church
-If unable to attend, voice concerns to the director of NPU E,
Penelope Cheroff at , 404-892-0229

June 5, 2008 - D.R.C. final hearing