The Hurt Building: Atlanta's Grand Old Skyscraper Goes ``Green''



The Hurt Building, one of Atlanta's oldest skyscrapers, is located downtown in the oldest part of the Central Business District. Nearby attractions include the Georgia Aquarium, CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park, the World of Coca-Cola and Turner Field. The building can be easily reached from either the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector or Interstate 20. MARTA, Atlanta's public transit system, has a train station about two blocks away, and several bus lines serve the area.

Construction on the Hurt Building started in 1913. The main part of the building was completed within a year, but the wings and light court of the building, as well as some decoration, were not finished until 1926. The delay was caused in part by World War I. At the time it was built, the Hurt Building was the 17th largest office building in the world.

Joel Hurt, the builder, was an Atlanta businessman who had already reshaped the city. In the late 1880s, Hurt purchased land about two miles east of downtown and designed a neighborhood laid out in the "garden style.'' Neighborhoods such as these were designed to give city dwellers a place of repose surrounded by natural beauty. Hurt was creating Atlanta's first suburb, Inman Park, now one of the most desirable in-town neighborhoods in the city. At the same time, Hurt created a new street, Edgewood Avenue, that ran straight from downtown to Inman Park. He then engineered and built a streetcar line along the new street that took commuters to their new homes outside the city. It was at the downtown end of Edgewood that he decided to build his skyscraper.

Hurt did many of the preliminary architectural drawing for his building himself. To do the actual design, he hired J. E. R. Carpenter, who the New York Times called "the architect who shaped Upper Fifth Avenue.'' The 17-story building is triangular, or a "flat iron,'' as these buildings are called, because of the odd shape of its lot. It is built in the Neoclassical style, with a domed rotunda at the apex of the triangle that is set on marble columns. The lines of the building are straight and regular, and ornamentation is kept to a minimum. The National Park Service says, "The Hurt Building also reflects the ideas and concepts of its builder, Joel Hurt. [His] training as an engineer helped ... as he strove to keep the "frills" of design down to a minimum and sought to create a more "efficient" and direct approach to design for the sake of clarity and unity.'' The Hurt Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

The building remains a vibrant part of downtown. American City Business Journals said of the Hurt Building, in discussing its high occupancy rate with good-quality tenants, "Today, it is an increasingly vital part of the downtown business district and an example of the evolving role that historic buildings can play in the life of the community.'' The owners of the building continue to maintain the Hurt Building as premier office space, adding high-speed Internet access and other modern amenities. In addition, the building was recently awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. According to Electrical Wholesaling, the Hurt Building "is the first commercial building in downtown Atlanta to achieve the prestigious LEED-EB Gold certification, which denotes a high-level of commitment to sustainable operations and maintenance of an existing facility.'' The National Park Service says that the building "remains one of the most highly visible and architecturally important examples of early skyscraper construction in Atlanta.'' Joel Hurt would be pleased that his building continues to lead the way into the future.

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