Midtown High School (formerly Grady High School) was designed with a foundation of excellence.  Esteemed Atlanta architect Neil Reid (1885-1926) from the firm Hentz, Reid and Adler began the initial design for the classical red brick building in 1922.

When Reid’s involvement on the project halted due to illness, his associate Phillip Trammell Shutze (1890-1982) heavily influenced the final design for the school, completed in 1924. In subsequent years, the highly regarded Shutze designed some of the most elegant buildings in Atlanta, including the Swan House (c. 1928) and the Academy of Medicine (c. 1941).

Various architectural firms contributed buildings to the Midtown High campus to accommodate the growing needs of the student community. Hentz, Adler and Shutze featured a classical vocabulary for the current practice gymnasium (c 1938). Latter additions incorporated a stadium by Richard Aeck Associates (c. 1949), a gymnasium by Bull and Kenney (c. 1973), and a noteworthy classroom addition by the architectural firm Perkins & Will (c. 2006).

In 2018, Atlanta Public Schools hired Atlanta-based architectural firm Cooper Carry for comprehensive renovations, additions, and site improvements at Midtown High. Cooper Carry Principal Sophia Tarkhan says, “Through a modern interpretation of the scale, proportion, building finishes, and window openings at the Shutze building, our work honors and complements a historic landmark.”

To create a more inviting entry for the expanded school and a promenade for community events, the architectural team led by Senior Associate Katy Daughtarty designed a three-story glazed bridge between a new four-story classroom wing and the historic Shutze building. The new four-story wing contains labs, a maker space to foster student innovation, a rooftop patio, and a media center. A double-height space with expansive views, the media center is animated with a sawtooth window design and a massive mural from former student and graffiti artist Alex Brewer, a.k.a. Hense.

Building and site improvements have been made to preserve the historic Shutze structure and to benefit the school and community. Brick facing, limestone trim, and terra cotta ornamentation have been cleaned. Roofing on campus buildings has been replaced. Students and Midtown neighbors can enjoy a renovated theater and expanded cafeteria. Seating integrated into landscaping beyond the three-story glazed bridge extends learning outdoors.

Cooper Carry has been praised by the school and design community for their harmonious modern design at a historic campus. The widely honored firm received the Excellence in Stewardship award from the Georgia Trust, an Award of Excellence from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, and an Award of Merit from the Georgia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2022. Design excellence at Midtown High School, started one hundred years ago, continues today with the work of another distinguished firm.

Melody Harclerode

Melody L. Harclerode, FAIA enjoys connecting the public to wondrous places as an award-winning architect, author, and Executive Director of Blue Heron Nature Preserve in Atlanta.