By Design: Museum of Design Atlanta
Eco-friendly renovations transformed the prominent 1980s structure in Atlanta’s city centre.
The place: Museum of Design Atlanta
The backstory: This glassy modernist low-rise, on a stately block of Atlanta’s famous Peachtree Street, was built in 1986 to house a branch library on its second floor and corporate offices above. Its ground level was just a parking deck, a low-grade use for such high-value real estate, but back then planners—and the public—held pedestrians in lower regard.
The beauty: Now the former parking deck, enclosed, has been transformed into something that could hardly have higher value: The Museum of Design Atlanta, MODA for short. Through changing exhibitions, lectures and tours, the museum examines the impact of design on our everyday lives.
Out front, what once was a circular driveway has been replaced with a gentle terrace extending the width of the building, which serves as an inviting public plaza. The upstairs levels are now the headquarters of international architecture firm Perkins+Will. They redesigned the structure and replaced its systems, making it a showcase for the latest green-building technologies. The building was designated platinum in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, earning more points than any other project in North America to date.
Fun fact: Twin gas-powered microturbines on the roof produce electricity; the heat they generate as a by-product regulates temperatures within the building, so no refrigerants are needed.
And in Atlanta, don’t miss: The High Museum of Art, right across the street, is housed in spectacular buildings—all clad in dazzling white—designed by Richard Meier (1983) and Renzo Piano (2005). About a mile down Peachtree Street, the Fox Theatre (1929), which you can tour, is a beautifully restored example of the lavish movie palaces of that era.