Historic Oakland Foundation recently announced plans for the construction of a new Visitors Center outside Oakland Cemetery’s main gates. In the coming months, we will share more details about the project and the Living History capital campaign.
Interesting, efficient, adaptive, inviting, and accessible. These were words repeatedly expressed by stakeholders when asked to choose adjectives to describe Oakland’s new visitors center. They helped inform the vision of our design team, led by Smith Dalia Architects, of a building that would serve Oakland’s growing needs as a place that honors its residents and strives to share their stories with the community. One thing was very clear from the outset—the new building should have a civic feel and be of the language of Oakland without detracting from the inimitable beauty contained within her walls. The design must, therefore, highlight the spirit and character that created such a special place and interpret those materials through the lens of its own time.
We chose a simple form that takes its cues from the historic buildings nearby in terms of scale and relation to the street, set back an appropriate distance from the cemetery to allow for a graceful transition from modern to historic. The design palate is predominantly brick and stone, so iconic to Oakland through its walls, walkways, monuments, and buildings, with glass to provide a clear view into the building that announces itself as a public and welcoming space. Even the landscape is designed to reflect the shrubs, trees, and flowers commonly found in Oakland. In short, the building will be unique and welcoming and will pay homage to one of Atlanta’s most inspiring places.
In short, the building will be unique and welcoming and will pay homage to one of Atlanta’s most inspiring places.
Guests will encounter an impressive two-story atrium illuminated by a wall of glass to start their visit to Oakland. They’ll have the opportunity to read about Oakland’s history before stopping by the museum store or heading into the cemetery for a tour. The second floor is primarily a large, flexible space that will host a range of programming including school field trips, private events, and lectures, with a balcony providing a special view into the cemetery. The landscape around the new building will extend Oakland’s parklike nature outside the gates and become a special gathering space in its own right.
We look forward to sharing more details and updated renderings as we continue through the design process and add color to our plans and this giant step forward for Historic Oakland Foundation’s ability to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery in the years ahead.
If you would like to support the Living History capital campaign and help write the next chapter for one of Atlanta’s most historic places, please donate.