Georgia Institute of Technology
Andrew Carnegie Building Exterior Restoration
The Carnegie Building at Georgia Tech was one of 2,509 libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1929. Of the five Carnegie libraries built in Atlanta, only two exist today.
The Georgia Tech Carnegie library opened in 1907 with a donation of 700 books from Columbia University. The building remained in use as a library until it was outgrown in 1957. The building now serves as the office to the President and Vice President.
The building has undergone numerous alterations. During renovations in the 1950s and '60s, many of the windows were replaced with translucent glass-tile bricks. In the 1980s, the height of the south façade windows were modified. Distinctive masonry panels below the original opening were removed to accommodate an overall larger window size. Modern metal storefront with reflective glass replaced the original conditions. A poorly executed and inappropriate cementitious repointing with a dark gray mortar completed in the 1990s dramatically altered the building’s appearance.
The restoration campaign focused on identifying the original conditions from 1907 and returning the building’s exterior to those conditions. Using historic images as a guide, the original operable wood window configuration was replicated throughout the building. All of the exterior doors were replicated in keeping with the original design. The entire exterior façade was cleaned of stains. All masonry elements were gently cleaned, removing the inappropriate cementitious dark gray mortar, and repointed. The mortar used for all repointing was consistent with the mortar analysis for color and content.
The roof was replaced, resolving numerous water infiltration issues. Safety and accessibility upgrades were completed across the site including new handrails and sidewalk modifications. The metal ADA canopy was removed and replaced with a more traditional, but modern canopy. Landscape elements were altered to redirect water away from the building. Invasive landscape elements were removed completely. Massive metal grates were removed from the south west window wells, allowing the new windows to be operable as well as provide light to the basement level.
The Carnegie Building is once again a beautiful example of Georgia Tech’s history.