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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Cultural Architecture
  4. United States
  5. HOK
  6. 2014
  7. National Center for Civil and Human Rights / The Freelon Group (Now part of Perkins+Will) + HOK

National Center for Civil and Human Rights / The Freelon Group (Now part of Perkins+Will) + HOK

  • 11:00 - 22 July, 2015
National Center for Civil and Human Rights / The Freelon Group (Now part of Perkins+Will) + HOK
National Center for Civil and Human Rights / The Freelon Group (Now part of Perkins+Will) + HOK, © Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

© Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth © Mark Herboth + 30

  • Design Architect

    Phil Freelon, FAIA LEED AP BD+C
  • Architect of Record

  • Project Manager

    Gude Management Group in partnership with Cousins Properties
  • Landscape

  • Plaza Sculpture

    Larry Kirkland Studio
  • Lighting Consultants

    Fisher Marantz Stone
  • Structural

    Walter P Moore and Sykes Engineering
  • Civil

    Long Engineering
  • Mechanical and Plumbing

    Newcomb & Boyd
  • Electrical

    Davis Pullen Engineers, Inc
  • Contractor

    H.J. Russell & Company, C.D. Moody Construction Company and Holder Construction Company, Joint Venture
  • Cost Estimator

    Cost Plus
  • Exhibit Design

    Rockwell Group
  • Human Rights Exhibition Curator

    Jill Savitt
  • Chief Creative Officer (Exhibits)

    George C. Wolfe
  • Media Content

    Batwin + Robin
  • Interactive Content

    2nd Story
  • Exhibit Graphics

    Rockwell Group and MGMT
  • Exhibit Fabricator

    Design & Production
  • Exhibit Lighting

    Fisher Marantz Stone
  • Human Rights Posters Mural

    Paula Scher, Pentagram
  • Human Rights Defender Portraits

  • The People's Portfolio Hall of Fame Portraits

  • More Specs Less Specs

From the architect. The design of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is driven by the concept of creating a Space for Action. The design is inspired by great urban spaces from around the world that are synonymous with historic civil and human rights events: the National Mall in Washington, Tiananmen Square in Beijing and Tahrir Square in Cairo.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

The iconic form of the Center is defined by two bold, curving walls. These powerful walls create and define the Space for Action where the Center and its various programs and interactive exhibits remind us of civil rights accomplishments and make us aware of current, global human rights issues. The Center’s design is inspired by the links that connect and empower individuals and groups of seemingly divergent interests to find common ground.


Located adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta, The Center’s spacious plazas welcome pedestrians from all directions. With almost 30 feet of elevation change, the design offers at-grade entrances on two building levels. The lower level entrance opens onto a generous plaza at Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard that features an elegant glass and steel water sculpture celebrating civil and human rights.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

The upper-level plaza faces Pemberton Place, an elliptical pedestrian park that links The Center to other major Atlanta cultural venues. A grand exterior stair wraps the building’s east side connecting the upper and lower plazas. The stairway and terraced landscape overlook an area planted with indigenous grasses intermingled with native shade trees.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

Within the curved exterior walls, The Center's building program is configured to connect visitors to each other, the important stories of the Civil Rights movement in the US and current human rights issues throughout the world. The 42,000 square foot building program is arranged on three levels with gallery and event space on each. The exhibit designer is New York-based Rockwell Group.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

The lower level features the special gallery dedicated to the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. collection and a large multi-purpose room overlooking the lower plaza. A monumental stair connects the lower level to the main lobby above. An array of east-facing windows along this path brings daylight deep into the building.

First Floor Plan
First Floor Plan

Visitors access the primary building entrance and lobby from Pemberton Place – on the middle floor of the three story structure. From this lobby, one can enter the Civil Rights exhibit and galleries. A stairway leads visitors up to a sweeping balcony overlooking the lobby, Centennial Olympic Park and downtown Atlanta beyond. Both the Civil Rights and Human Rights exhibits culminate on the upper floor in a gallery of shared accomplishments that opens to the balcony and lounge.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth

Reflecting the diversity of humanity, the two curving walls that define the building’s form are clad in architectural panels of varying size and earth tones. A green roof features an extensive planting system that contributes to the sustainable design. Together, The Center's architecture and exhibits become a true Space for Action and create an experience that inspires each visitor through recognition of our shared history and the role we all play in supporting civil and human rights.

© Mark Herboth
© Mark Herboth
Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "National Center for Civil and Human Rights / The Freelon Group (Now part of Perkins+Will) + HOK" 22 Jul 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
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© Mark Herboth

国家公民和人权中心 by The Freelon Group Architects + HOK