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Update, 3:11 p.m.: Impossible to listen and walk around and type during the presentation, but basically the new 25-year master plan involves many of the elements that Woodruff leaders (and local critics) have been talking about for several years. If you’ve been following the saga thus far, you’ll not be surprised by this. Arts center CEO Joe Bankoff said this new master plan is “a road map, not a timeline.” There’s no start date and no budget.

Here’s the gist of the master plan, developed by Boston’s Sasaki Associates Inc.:

In phase one of the project — with no timeline, price tag or specific architect in mind — the new concert hall will be built at the primo location of Peachtree St. and 15th, what’s now the drop-off plaza. At that busy corner, on Atlanta’s main drag, even in that tight space, it has more landmark potential than the original site on 14th. To fit the new concert hall into that space will require tearing down a corner of the current Memorial Arts Building.

Meanwhile, the ASO and the Alliance Theatre will continue to perform in their current venues, with construction all around. Among other points: the arts center plans to sell that 3.3-acre parcel of land on 14th Street; the arts center still doesn’t have air rights over MARTA’s Arts Center Station. What about Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who designed the Symphony Center’s 14th Street project? Bankoff said he’s not been ruled out as the architect for this new plan, but he has not been consulted either.

Update: Calatrava’s office sent a statement to the AJC saying that the architect would no longer be involved with the project.


Original post:
The Woodruff Arts Center, in Midtown Atlanta, is a lovable and frustrating hodgepodge.
The High Museum has splendid new (and old) digs, and the plaza that came along with its recent expansion gives WAC’s multiple buildings a hub. But the big, boxy Memorial Arts Building, opened in 1968, no longer meets the city’s basic needs.
Despite a face lift, it is still a bland piece of architecture. Worse, the concert hall is third-rate, the driving and parking options are poor, the concessions are awkward, the foundations and building itself is falling apart, and on and on. Still, we call it home.
Today at 3 p.m., WAC leaders will announce a new master plan. Here’s a snippet from the invitation-only event:


“,,, the Woodruff Arts Center has been working on a Master Plan for the entire arts campus.  In anticipation of Board of Trustees action on the plan next Wednesday, we are inviting key members of the press to a briefing on the background and details of this long term vision for the Midtown campus…. Scheduled speakers are Woodruff Arts Center President and CEO Joe Bankoff, Trustee and Planning Committee Chair Larry Gellerstedt, and Alan Ward from Sasaki and Associates.”


ArtscriticATL’s Catherine Fox and Pierre Ruhe will be there. We’ve been following every step of the WAC’s planning and fund-raising for many years. Today we’ll blog live as the events unfold. (At least the WAC has free Wi-Fi!) Will this be big news involving placement of a long-awaited Symphony Center? A bold redesign of the whole center, bringing the campus up to the artistic standards set by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Alliance Theatre? Or more baby steps towards some ideal future, where funding is always the limitation? Come join the event with us, and get our on-the-spot analysis and commentary.
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