Really Good News! West Courthouse Square Building Getting Upgrades; Needs New Nickname

From the brand new issue of the Decatur Focus

One of the biggest announcements is that Pope & Land recently purchased the 1972 glass office building adjacent to the Old Courthouse on the Square. The purchase includes the parking deck behind the building and the retail/commercial spaces below it. Pope & Land is a local Atlanta area commercial developer and property owner with a long history in downtown Decatur. They developed the One and Two Decatur Town Center office buildings in the 1980s, which were the first commercial buildings constructed after the adoption of the 1982 Town Center Plan.

They are working on plans to upgrade the exterior of the building and create a stronger retail focus along Ponce de Leon Avenue. But the really good news is that they have disconnected the fake bird noises that once sounded from the top of the building. If you have been in Decatur for a few years, you know what we are talking about!

The new owners and their design team are working on ideas to bring more life to the plaza area in front of the building and create a stronger connection between the plaza and the courthouse square above it. Plans also include improving the exterior of the parking deck. Thanks to the interest and support of this new owner, this building will soon become more a part of the W. Ponce de Leon corridor and create a stronger pedestrian connection between the square and the retail and restaurant shops to the west.

Look for the Root City pop-up holiday shop in the former Art Institute gallery space through the end of the year, thanks to the support of these new building owners.

We have long referred to this structure as the “Birds from Hell” building, thanks to the angry, recorded raptor calls that emanated non-stop from the roof.  It was supposed to help with birds flying into its endless expanse of glass.  We have long wished they would stop.  Finally!  9 years later we get our wish!

But now I guess we’ll need a new nickname.  Hmm…

Photo courtesy of Google

Leaking Dumpster

1 West Ponce dumpster

This dumpster sits behind 1 West Courthouse Square’s (aka Birds From Hell building’s) parking deck.

It has leaked onto the sidewalk and into the street for as long as I can remember.  As someone who walks this sidewalk frequently to get to and from the MARTA station, I have to say I’m pretty disgusted every time I have to walk through this smelly mess.  Lord knows what it is.

I’ve long meant to post a pic and submit a code violation to the city about this.  Tonight I did both.  Let’s see what can be done.

Post-Modern Design is NOT for the Birds

I gotta tell ya 1 West Courthouse Square building. You’ve become “that guy”. You’re the unattractive, noisy neighbor that everyone tolerates, but no one likes.

Not only is your uninspired glass box design a complete eyesore sitting next to our well-loved courthouse, not only is your layout ridiculously annoying with your pointless side entrance and giant parking deck, now you just won’t shut up.

Carl writes in…

For the last month or so, I’ve been confused by the sudden influx of tropical birds to downtown Decatur. It seemed that they were somehow nesting on the 1 W Court Sq building; and, while the toucans were invisible, they could be heard for half a mile away. I originally expressed concern about this bizarre situation but was told by someone who knows birds far more than I that this nonsense was “baby finches.”

I didn’t really understand how the “finches” were invisible, so VERY loud, and seemingly never slept. Perhaps they were adjusting to their new home atop an office building. As the weeks passed, though, I recognized that this noise simply never stopped. I began reaching out via various forms of social networking wondering if anyone knew the deal. Was this a bizarre public art project, somehow organized by AIA/D or a prank? I encountered lots of people along the way (many of whom I didn’t even know) that appreciated my question but had no answers. It seemed that either others had the same question or simply thought I had dreamt the whole thing up. I’d wondered if I could ever gain access to the roof of the building to see what was causing this noise. It became a combined source of frustration and curiosity.

Well, finally, courtesy of a conversation with Mayor Floyd, it seems that we have an answer. “It” is unfortunately neither designed for the public good (in my opinion) nor is it a wonderful new colony of endangered birds. Instead, it’s a device designed to protect the owner of the mirrored building against broken windows. All of the ruckus will theoretically frighten normal birds away from the building so that they do not crash into the glass. Perhaps that IS good for the birds, but I wonder whether all of this noise is good for anyone. If it keeps birds away from the building, doesn’t it also keep them from flying normally in the area? It’s no wonder that I didn’t ever see any nesting in nearby trees, since they’re likely frightened by what seems to be a nearby zoo.

What sort of permit did they secure for this noisemaker? I can hear it two to three blocks away in every direction. What once was amusing is now something that interferes with my morning walks. I can’t hear the normal birds, but I can sure here the artificial ones. I sat outside on the patio at Pastries A Go Go today once again feeling like I was dining at the Rainforest Café.

(I love that last line!)

The city has put a lot of lipstick on this pig over the years. Without Cooks/Sherlock’s and Crescent Moon, its parking deck would be the scourge of downtown. And don’t get me started on those crumbling stone tables/benches. But now, specifically because of its post-modern design, it also must emit noise. (My wife and I had a debate one late evening regarding this very noise. I was in the “bat” camp and she thought they were nocturnal finches. Obviously Carl proved us both wrong.)

Glass skyscrapers the world over MUST exist without this sort of device. Otherwise, from midtown Manhattan to Midtown Atlanta we’d hear only the din of traffic over the cacophony of prerecorded bird chirps. What do the big boys use to avoid bird collisions? My grandmother cut bird shapes out of black construction paper and put them on her windows. Perhaps that could be building-wide art project for its tenents?