By Angie Wynne
Historic Oakland Foundation is thrilled to announce the upcoming construction of a 10,000 sq. ft. visitors center outside the Cemetery’s main, western gate. The new building, designed by Smith Dalia Architects, will include a much-expanded museum store, a double-height atrium that will host interpretive exhibits that orient the visitor to Oakland and its history, flexible multipurpose classroom and event space, rentable meeting space, and offices for Historic Oakland Foundation. The exterior of the new visitor’s center will feature a welcome garden, an entry plaza, and a great lawn to provide additional greenspace. The twelve-month project is expected to break ground later this year.
In addition to providing a richer experience for all visitors to historic Oakland Cemetery, the new building will also provide space for more diverse, weatherproof, and year-round programming including civic forums, K-12 programming, and adult education programs.
“Oakland Cemetery uniquely reflects our city’s rich, diverse past, and we have long desired to be an organization that can convene city-wide discussions about our collective history and its ever-evolving meaning today. This new building will allow us to achieve that aspiration,” said Richard Harker, executive director of Historic Oakland Foundation.
Aesthetically, the new Visitors Center will pay homage to the red brick of Oakland’s defining walls and walkways while welcoming visitors through large glass entryways and windows that provide a modern contrast to the brick and give this building gravitas befitting the Cemetery’s and the Foundation’s importance to the city.
Beyond expanding the Foundation’s ability to share Oakland Cemetery with the public and generating new revenue to be reinvested into the Foundation’s mission, the new building will also serve as an amenity to the Memorial Drive Greenway, the linear park that begins at Oakland’s main gate and extends along Memorial Drive all the way to the State Capitol.
“We are excited about providing a community resource that also connects to exciting developments around the BeltLine (through Oakland’s East Gate), the rapidly changing landscape of Memorial Drive, and the rejuvenation of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood and the forthcoming Hero Walk to our north,” said Harker
During construction, the Foundation will move its offices to temporary buildings outside the main gate at 273 Oakland Avenue.
This project is made possible by the Foundation’s partners and friends in the City of Atlanta including former Councilmember Natalyn Archibong, Parks Commissioner John Dargle and his staff, Invest Atlanta CEO Eloisa Klementich and her team, and the generosity of many private donors.