New South Construction Building Millennium Gate Project in AtlantaApril 2008
Atlanta-based New South Construction Co. is in the midst of building a once-in-a-lifetime project that will have local and national prominence.
The $18 million Millennium Gate project, located on 17th Street at the center of the Atlantic Station development, will be the largest public monument to be built since the Jefferson Memorial was constructed in 1943. The classically designed arch monument will be comparable in style to the Washington Arch in New York City, the Wellington Arch in London or the Carrousel Arch in Paris.
Although New South had never completed anything quite like it, the company has experience with other jobs featuring similar elements. Among those are several buildings it has completed at Wesleyan School in nearby Norcross and others at Emory University in Atlanta. We have a lot of experience with classically-styled buildings,” says New South project executive Robert Dunn.
Work on the project kicked off in 2005 with the delivery of the structure’s “Peace” and “Justice” statues from Savannah. New South broke ground in February 2007 and topped out the project in September. Completion is expected by this summer.
New South’s contract calls for the company to complete the exterior and some interior work on the project and then turn it over to Oxford Construction of New York to finish the interiors, including trim work, floor coverings, moldings, doors and hardware. “We will deliver the project to Oxford as a ‘white-box’ type environment,” Dunn says. “We’re working with Oxford to determine which firm will do which type of work.”
Rodney Mims Cook Jr., president of the National Monuments Foundation, is the person spearheading the Millennium Gate project. Cook originally conceived of the monument in the late 1990s as an addition to Washington, D.C.’s Commodore Barney Circle. “There was a lot of building happening in other countries to commemorate the passing of the millennium, but not in the United States,” Cook says of his plans for the monument.
Although land had been secured for the project in Washington, two of the U.S. senators active in the project passed away and the events of Sept. 11 stalled the project from moving forward. The project’s location was then shifted to Cook’s home city of Atlanta.
“The site in Atlanta was just too good to pass up,” Cook says. “But we hope to return to Washington with a similar project sometime in the future.”
The Millennium Gate is not Cook’s first monument project in Atlanta. He was also involved in the development of the Prince of Wale’s Foundation, the World Athletes Monument built to commemorate the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996.
“Rodney is a classical architecture enthusiastic,” says project architect Sandy Cooper of Atlanta-based Collins Cooper Carusi Architects. “He believes deeply that classical architecture has a place in the development of cities.”
The project’s architecture strives to create a sense of timelessness, in keeping with the monument’s theme of reflecting man’s peaceful accomplishments for the past 2,000 years. Collins Cooper Carusi Architects worked with Robert Adams Architects of London on the monument’s design.
“The monument is intended to show the pioneering spirit behind the development of Atlanta,” Cooper says. “It is meant to serve as the type of civic art and architecture that great cities possess.” The monument will be located between residential and commercial elements of the Atlantic Station development, serving as a “transition,” Cooper adds.
Dunn says the classical nature of the architecture and the proportions of the structure mandated constant communication between the design team, construction managers and installers of the materials. “There are incredibly tight tolerances with a project such as this,” he adds. “We have to keep in mind that we’re not just constructing an office building. Every worker is fully aware of what the project is trying to accomplish.”
The monument arches will be flanked on both sides by two 24-ft pylons adorned by the Greek sculptures of “Peace” and “Justice.” A gallery beneath the arch will feature art and history exhibits and be open to the public. The rooftop, which will have a dining room, will be accessible by a six-story elevator and stair shafts.
A 12,000-sq-ft museum will be planned and designed by Edwin Schlossberg of ESI Design of New York. The museum will explain the sculptural elements of the monument and tell the story of the United States and how that history fits into the continuum of the last 2,000 years of world history.
The exterior of the building has two main finishes, limestone from Indiana and stucco, and will feature a facade by sculptor Alexander Stoddard that tells the story of man’s accomplishments over the past 2,000 years. In addition to the statues at the base of the arch, there will be four bronze statues placed in the arch.
The project also involved some unique materials.
“We have some materials that are not commonly used,” Dunn says. “The limestone we used on the facade is not just a veneer, they are 16- to 18-in. thick. They are fragile pieces of stone and must be handled carefully.”
Dunn adds that the masonry work and tight conditions are challenges the company has experienced on other projects, such as the Cathedral of St. Philip on Peachtree Road in Atlanta. The cathedral project contained numerous detail-oriented, high-end finishes such as marble, trimwork, millwork and plaster. “That project involved some of the same decision-making as the monument,” Dunn says.