The Atlanta History Center is moving forward with plans to begin dramatically reshaping its 33-acre campus.
On Nov. 6, the center received unanimous approval from NPU-B for a site plan expected to guide changes to the center’s property over the next 20 years.
The changes will start with a renovation and expansion of the Atlanta History Museum, expected to begin near the start of 2014, said Atlanta History Center Vice President of Properties Jackson McQuigg.
Submitting a broad plan now, said McQuigg, ensures that changes to the site in the coming years promote a cohesive vision for the center’s future. Additionally, by agreeing upon the changes now, the center hopes to win approval for its future projects all at once, rather than obtaining approval from the city for each individual change to the campus.
McQuigg said the physical alterations reflect a shift in the role that the center plays in the community. Rather than an educational attraction people visit a few times a year, McQuigg sees the center in the future as a place where residents can enjoy more than 20 acres of green space any day of the week.
“We want the whole family to come out here and spend the day,” McQuigg said.
The center already has removed fences along West Paces Ferry Road and opened the front of the campus to the public. McQuigg said more areas of the property should be accessible to the public in the future, free of charge.
Hillary Hardwick, vice president of marketing communications for the center, said a more open campus is part of a renewed focus on how the center interacts with visitors.
Improvements to the property — such as a garden for children, improved sidewalks and a ropes course — will compliment new exhibits and activities in order to expand the center’s appeal, she said.
“It’s more than just a visual transition,” Hardwick said. “It’s a shift in how we present history to our visitors.”
The center’s master site plan still must be approved by the city’s Urban Design Commission and Atlanta City Council before renovations can begin.
The center and its plans appeared to find strong support among NPU-B board members.
Sally Silver, chairwoman of the neighborhood planning unit, praised Atlanta History Center President Sheffield Hale at the NPU’s Nov. 6 meeting.
Bill Murray, chair of the NPU-B zoning committee, called the History Center “a true gem for Buckhead residents.”