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A Celebration of Human Rights

National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

©Albert Vecerka/Esto

“The Freelon/HOK design truly captured the spirit of exploration and collaboration that is central to the Center’s mission.”

Doug Shipman
CEO, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The concept of unity drove the design of Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which educates visitors about the rich history of the civil rights movement across the US while helping them connect lessons of the past to present-day issues.

Curved facades represent interlocking arms that cradle the central space, symbolizing unity and harmony. Inside, the three levels include exhibits and galleries, an event space, a broadcast studio and a retail store. The central open space was inspired by public areas in cities around the world in which protests for civil and human rights have taken place.

Moving through the building, visitors experience rich content through interactive exhibits and immersive activities. Though many of the issues explored are somber and difficult to discuss, the team designed the center to inspire conversation and action. Daylight floods the public spaces, including an overlook at the top of the central stair that serves as a spot for reflection.

Designed for LEED Gold certification, the building incorporates a high-performance exterior wall assembly, state-of-the-art environmental control systems, a vegetated roof and other energy-saving features.

HOK and the Freelon Group collaborated on the design of the building, which is in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Located a few blocks west of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, the museum is expected to draw 400,000 visitors annually. 




42,000 sq. ft. / 3,900 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Interior Design
Landscape Architecture


American Concrete Institute – First Place Award, Low-Rise Buildings

Urban Land Institute Atlanta Chapter - Development of Excellence Award

Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best in Real Estate Awards - Best in Design

AIA North Carolina – Merit Award

AIA Georgia – Honor Award

National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC) - President’s Award


21 October 2015
“Atlanta’s Best Architecture”
Atlanta Business Chronicle

22 July 2015
“National Center for Civil and Human Rights”

30 June 2015
“Southern Belles: Seven Museums in the American South”

28 July 2014
“Center for Civil and Human Rights Opens Its Doors to Atlanta”
Architectural Record

14 July 2014
“Atlanta Unveils the National Center for Civil and Human Rights”

3 July 2014
“Phil Freelon, HOK Design National Civil and Human Rights Center in Atlanta”

24 June 2014
“Center for Civil and Human Rights Opens in Downtown Atlanta”
HOK News 

23 June 2014
“The Newest Reason to Visit Atlanta”
Conde Naste Traveler 

23 June 2014
“The Rise of the Civil Rights Museum”

22 June 2014
“The Harmony of Liberty”
The New York Times 

20 April 2014
“Atlanta Civil Rights Museum Focuses on Stories, Not Memorials”
USA Today 

7 March 2014
“Best Design in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2013 Best in Atlanta Real Estate Awards”
Atlanta Business Chronicle