National Center for Civil and Human Rights

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The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a proposed archives, museum, and cultural and research center in Atlanta, Georgia. It will be located adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium on the site of Pemberton Place. After delays to the original dates due to the Great Recession, groundbreaking on the $30 million, 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) facility is scheduled for March 2013, with the opening set for May 2014.[1][2]

The center's mission is to commemorate the contributions of Georgians to the struggle for African-American freedom and equality; to highlight the contributions of current and future struggles for freedom worldwide; to encourage the discussion and study of human and civil rights movements domestically and abroad; and serve as a center for conflict resolution. As of May 2011, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights had raised $73 million toward a goal of $85 million.[3]

Center activity[edit]

Before welcoming its first visitor, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights became "a center without walls" with extensive programming. By collaborating with numerous organizations, the Center has developed many strategic partnerships.

The Center participates in various symposia and continues to offer opportunities for people to learn about the importance of human and civil rights issues. It has hosted numerous film screenings and sent curricula and resources to schools throughout Atlanta to teach about human rights. An audio tour of Atlanta’s historic Auburn Avenue narrated by Andrew Young is available for download from the Center's website and gives a personal, firsthand account of the past.

Building design[edit]

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights commissioned a partnership consisting of the Freelon Group and Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum to design its future home.[2] The announcement came on the heels of a multi-month competitive design process in which dozens of firms worldwide competed for the contract. The Freelon Group and HOK are working with Center leadership, exhibit designer Gallagher & Associates and project manager Cousins Properties/Gude Management Group to finalize the facility’s design prior to breaking ground on the $125 million Center. The planned LEED-certified Center is designed to serve as a portal for education and discussion through performances, lectures, symposia and partnerships across the city for Atlanta, the state and the nation.

The design is inspired by “the simple yet powerful image of interlocking arms that signifies the linkages that empower individuals and groups of seemingly divergent interests to find common ground,” said Philip Freelon, president of The Freelon Group. The design, conceived with sustainability as a primary consideration, features a terracotta-clad building surrounding an exterior courtyard, which serves as an amphitheater and exhibit space. The King Papers exhibit extends towards Auburn Avenue, and a special events space overlooks the Ellipse at Pemberton Place.


George C. Wolfe, Tony Award-winning theater director, producer, playwright and author, is bringing his renowned artistic talent to the design of the upcoming National Center for Civil & Human Rights as its chief creative officer.

Wolfe will oversee the creation of design concepts and themes for NCCHR, including creative interpretation of exhibits, a storyline-based approach to content and the overall visitor experience.

The Center's key acquisitions include the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers and Without Sanctuary photography collection.


Further reading[edit]

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