"Progress is a comfortable disease."

this came into us via suggest-a-story and i thought i would put it out there for you. according to archinect, the buckhead branch library may be razed. the building was designed by mack sogin merril elam and is considered something of a marvel in architectural communities.

not all are impressed though. in an ajc article about the potential razing of the library, aaron rents founder and arbiter of all things classy in buckhead, “first class” charlie loudermilk is quoted as saying:

“I see it from my window. I think it’s ugly,” Loudermilk said. “I like brick and limestone, stuff that looks like quality”

(prehaps charlie has something like the black gloss entertainment center from aaron rents in mind. screams quality)

anyway if the library does go, it will be replaced by, you guessed it, a parking garage.

atlanta’s car addiction strikes again.

p.s. – hat tip to the first person to get the author and quote that the title of this post is from

12 Comments so far

  1. Seth (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    E. E. Cummings, who must be something of a patron saint to you.


  2. james (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

    hah…yes indeed he is, but what is the poem?

  3. Ben K (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

    Interestingly, a Google search for "progress is a comfortable disease" puts THIS POST as the 3rd result…


  4. Broderick (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

    Has anyone seen the Aaron Rents building? If anything in Buckhead needs to be bulldozed….

  5. Anna (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

    They also tore down this beautiful mack scogin merrill elam building http://www.msmearch.com/academic/emory.html
    which was a conference center and chapel at emory, just in the last few months.

    I had the privilege of living next to it in some cool mid-century modern apartments (who were reshaped by msme at the same time as the structure was added) for two years, and it was a thing of beauty. But apparently it leaked like a sieve and had a mold problem so had not been used in several years before I even got there. The apartments were a bit moldy but not too bad.

    Unfortunately they razed the entire complex to put up a multi-story mixed use for graduate housing and restaurants etc. Probably no favor to the complex trees or Hahn Woods behind, but progress is progress. This is on Clifton Rd. across from the cdc. Look to your left and you can still see the rubble.

  6. Grrrrrrrrrr...... (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

    The post over at Bloglanta points the finger at John Portman, Sam Massell and Tom Cousins as culprits for shuttering downtown nightclubs. My parents reminisce about what fun downtown Atlanta was in the early 1970s, when they were in their twenties and working downtown. All of the offices were centered around Five Points and people partied at Underground. Eventually Peachtree Center was built (considered very far north at the time!) and offices trickled up Peachtree to Colony Square, Lenox Square, etc. This flight echoed the demise of street life, as Peachtree Center and Colony Square had inward focuses with their damn atriums (thanks, Portman; this is your legacy).

    It’s funny that Charlie Loudermilk didn’t bat an eyelash when the downtown Carnegie Library was torn down and replaced with a concrete box (seriously, who is in charge of designing public buildings???). Nor did he object when the stately Ida Williams branch (kind of buy East Village Grille site) was torn down in the 1980s.

    Atlanta is slowly losing the little character it had as bars are razed to make way for Hermes shoppes. I’m tired of it. In my next life I want to come back as a car in Atlanta. Clearly that’s the focus of this city- build beautiful parking garages and streets that are free from pedestrians.

  7. Grrrrrrrr..... (unregistered) on February 14th, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

    For those who don’t click on the Grrrrrrr……, here’s the link:



  8. eyeeclectic (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 11:28 am

    "Atlanta. As boring as you’d like it to be."
    **If you would like to voice an objection to razing the Buckhead library to build a parking lot. Please let the library and the Commissioners know how you feel.
    Contact Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System Comments@co.fulton.ga.us
    Contact Fulton County Commissioners http://tinyurl.com/ysbhcm

  9. james (unregistered) on February 15th, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    thanks, eyeeclectic. i would suggest a boycott of aaron rents too, but i am not sure that would have much effect with the readers of this blog ;-)

  10. Jack (unregistered) on February 18th, 2008 @ 11:48 am

    Can we be real here? Who cares that it’s the Aarons Rents guy who is calling for the razing of this building? The reality is that this library is hideous. Why do we defend that very bad architectural decisions of 40 years ago? It was ugly when it was built and it’s still an eye-sore today. C’mon people: Let’s pick our battles and let’s preserve things worth preserving. And let’s not shy away from the reality that mixed- use is always a better use of valuable real estate space. (This is just marketplace reality 101…) And let’s embrace the reality that mixed-use can promote foot traffic (if mixed-use is not wholly prostituted over to cars.. and I cite the Edgewood Retail District as an example of this mistake…) I lament parking decks like everyone else. I also lament Atlanta’s razing its past. But ugly-ass, eye-sore-ish architecture should not be defended (much less preserved). Those 1970s-era Modernist "starchitects" built stuff that only they and the seriously affected could love. Good riddance! (And what’s up with all of this knee-jerk anti-capitalistic sentiment?) Just because plutocrat Charlie Loudermilk says something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong…) JS

  11. james (unregistered) on February 18th, 2008 @ 11:55 am

    oh, jack. you must not have bee reading here long or you would know that ‘knee jerk anti-capitslism’ is probably the wrong label to tag moi with.

    beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and those of us that like the library can certainly try to do what we can on it’s behalf.

    as for charlie loudermilk, he’s just an easy target for snarky writers, that’s all….

  12. Jack (unregistered) on February 18th, 2008 @ 1:17 pm

    James, I appreciate your thoughts (seriously). I am a serious critic of the "Modernist School" of architecture and I would like to see it routed wherever, however. I’m also seriously against the car-centric development patterns, of which parking decks are the most egregious example. So, as a self-described "neo-classicist" and New Urbanist, it’s likely that I would support anything that’s mixed-use and that fosters greater densities (and that’s the over-arching objective for developers in Buckhead). Let’s be honest, though: The tragic undergirding reality is that most Americans no longer read and libraries will have to change to reflect this.. and forgive the irony embedded in that statement. (And let’s all agree that fact that folk don’t read anymore is another sign that the acpocalypse is a soon-coming event…) So… we prolly have to resign ourselves that the libraries of the future will be more closely allied to mercantile interests. But my desire — to see this building razed — is strictly rooted in my aforemention "anti-eyesore" bent. The cursed Modernists tried to be so damned utilitarian ("function over form!") and they thought that ornament was somehow dishonest or beneath them. And this thinking has bequethed to us all (and our landscape) buildings that are not meant to inspire or elevate but rather to brutalize. And I’m altogether "agin’ it"! (Now… where Mr. Loudermilk is concerned, he just wants more money. He can’t help it. But I’m on his side… And so many political battles feature strange bedfellows, don’t they?) JS

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