Atlanta Life and Culture

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National Center for Civil and Human Rights prepares for debut

In downtown Atlanta, sharing prime real estate with the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium, there is a new silhouette on the skyline.

It is a lens-shaped structure with two curved exterior walls that seem to enclose or embrace a central core like a pair of hands.

In contrast to the steel and glass that dominate the downtown landscape, this building, the home of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, has an organic exterior, a mosaic of wood-toned polygons that glow in various shades of tan and brown.

Inside that shell is a museum dedicated to telling the story of a multicolored world, a world in which conflict and resolution between shades of flesh has shaped history, and, ultimately, changed hearts.

If this dappled front seems an embodiment of the themes within, that’s no accident.

“It’s an expression of the variation in the people and the cultures that tells the story of civil and human rights, both here and abroad,” said architect Phil Freelon, of Durham, N.C.

After nine years of planning and a year of construction, the $80 million Civil Rights Center is almost ready. A soft opening will be held May 30, when invited guests will tour the interior as exhibit designers put the finishing touches on the center’s three galleries. The grand opening is June 23.

To real more about the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, click here.


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About the Author

Bo Emerson is an Atlanta native and a long-time AJC feature and news writer.