Designated: Landmark Building Exterior
45 Edgewood Avenue, N.E.
Constructed: 1913, rear wings and light court added 1924-1926.
The Hurt Building is located in the heart of Atlanta's central business district. It was constructed on a triangular property bounded by Edgewood Avenue on the north, Exchange Place on the south, and Peachtree Center Boulevard (Ivy Street) on the east.
The structure is an extremely important example of early high-rise construction in Atlanta. The Hurt Building is also significant for its association with Joel Hurt, who had a lasting impact on the growth and development of Atlanta.
JOEL HURT (1850-1926)
Joel Hurt was one of the most dynamic business leaders in turn-of-the-century Atlanta. A civil engineer by training, he became a major real estate developer. Atlanta's first planned residential suburb, Inman Park, was developed by Hurt's East Atlanta Land Company in 1890. He pushed through a new city street, Edgewood Avenue, to make a straight-line connection between Inman Park and the site of his proposed office building downtown; he also engineered one of the country's first electric street railways to provide rapid transit between the two.
Probably more than any other of his works, the Hurt Building carries the definite stamp of Hurt's design ideas. Joel Hurt was known to have been making preliminary drawings for several years before he hired J. E. R. Carpenter, a prominent New York architect well experienced in the design of high-rise structures, to draw up the final plans for the Hurt Building. As an engineer, he saw architecture as a structural art and strove to keep the "frills" of design down to a minimum, preferring a more "efficient" and direct approach on design for the sake of clarity and unity.
THE HURT BUILDING
The skyscraper, one of the proudest achievements of the nineteenth century, grew from new technological and economic forces. Iron construction elevators, new mechanical systems, increasing population density, rising land cost, and a growing office profession came together in Chicago in 1884 to produce the first steel-skeleton office building. Atlanta's first steel-framed office buildings were built in the 1890s. The most common design for these tall buildings was a three-part composition of base, shaft, and capital; this composition is used in the design of the Hurt Building.
The Hurt Building rises seventeen floors in height. The four lower floors, which constitute the base of the building, cover the entire allowable building site with the exception of the apex of the building facing the main business intersection at "Five Points," which was cut back thirty feet to allow a greater window area and "a more effective view of the structure from a distance." The thirteen floors above this base follow a V-shape place arrangement: the two building wings extend from the western apex of the property along both Exchange Place and Edgewood Avenue, leaving an open light court between the wings, which open toward Peachtree Center Boulevard. The structure is capped by a moderately projecting cornice and a flat roof.
The rotunda consists of a moderate dome set on marble columns and, situated at the apex of the building's triangular site, acts as an entrance to the Hurt Building lobby and to the elegant City Grill Restaurant. The public lobby at the entrance level extends from the apex, or western end of the building, through to Peachtree Center Boulevard in the east. Secondary entrances connect Exchange Place and Edgewood Avenue with the lobby. Stairs at the western end compensate for an appreciable fall from west to east in the site along the adjacent streets.
The four base floors of the Hurt Building are sheathed in stone with pilasters placed between all glazed openings. Accentuation is given to these pilasters in the first three floors by the use of relatively deep metal spandrel panels below each window opening; this device subordinates the horizontal members of the system and emphasizes the vertical. The windows of the fourth floor occur in the attic of the base portion of the building, which is further defined by a stone entablature below the fourth floor windows and a horizontal band or string course of stone above.
Above the four-story base of the Hurt Building, brick piers are used to separate paired windows within the brick-sheathed exterior walls of the structure's thirteen-story shaft. Decorative green terra cotta panels form spandrels below each pair of windows fronting a street and help to join the vertical elements of the building; like the windows of the base, these spandrels are also subordinate so as not to prevent the brick piers from reading as strong vertical elements. These piers extend the full height of the building and are undecorated except at the seventeenth floor level. This particular floor is differentiated from the others by ornamentation, placed vertically between window groups, which has been used to provide some relief in the facade just prior to the building's terminating cornice. All of the windows, including those set in the plain facades of the V-shaped light court, are of the 1/1 type.
The cornice of the Hurt Building is moderately heavy and consists of a course of classically inspired molding topped by a heavy, corbelled round-arch band which in itself is capped by several courses of relatively plain molding. The cornice does not extend into the V-shaped light court, but instead terminates shortly after rounding the edge of the building. This interior court is completely devoid of all decorative ornamentation and spandrel treatment within its interior and has as its only relief the typical and consistent rhythm of its windows. Situated between Woodruff Park in the west and Hurt Park in the east, the Hurt Building remains one of the most highly visible and architecturally important examples of early skyscraper construction in Atlanta.
Born in Columbia, Tennessee in 1867, Carpenter received a degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1887. Following study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, he returned to this country, establishing an office in Norfolk, Virginia in the 1890s. He designed a number of business and commercial buildings across the South in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These included the American National Bank at Pensacola, the Empire Office Building in Birmingham, and the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, all erected prior to 1910.
Carpenter's only building in Atlanta was the Hurt Building. It was designed about the time Carpenter relocated his offices to New York and achieved his greatest success as a designer of more than fifty tall apartment buildings that were built along Fifth and Park Avenues in the 1910s and 1920s. One of these, at 907 Fifth Avenue, was awarded the A.I.A. Gold Medal Award in 1916 and another, at 819 Park Avenue, was awarded the New York A.I.A. in 1926.
Shortly before his death, Carpenter collaborated in the design for the huge Lincoln Building on 42nd Street at Vanderbilt Avenue. He died of a heart attack suffered in his Madison Avenue offices in June 1932.
Edge, Sarah Simms. "Joel Hurt and the Development of Atlanta". Atlanta Historical Bulletin. IX (1955).
Garrett, Franklin. Atlanta and Environs, 2 vols. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1954.
Lyon, Elizabeth Anne Mack. "Business Buildings in Atlanta: AStudy in Urban Growth and Form." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Emory University, 1970.
"Frederick Law Olmstead and Joel Hurt: Planning for Atlanta," in Dana F. White and Victor A. Kramer, Eds. Olmstead South: Old South Critic/New South Planner. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1979.
Whitey, Henry F. & Elsie Rathurn. Biographical Dictionary of AmericanArchitects (deceased). Los Angeles: Hennessy & Ingalls, 1970.
Group I (1) (2) (3)
The proposed nomination of the Hurt Building meets the above-referenced criteria for a Landmark Building or Site as set out in Section 16-20.004 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta.