Home Base: Atlanta and the Capitol Building

if1126 atlanta state capitol state house ga georgia the state capitol building in the capital city of atlanta
Georgia State Capitol Building (Goebel 2007)

 

Located in the heart of Atlanta, the Georgia state capitol building houses many government functions, from bill sponsoring to sub-committee and committee hearings, and acts as the home base for state government.

The Georgia capitol building started construction in 1884 and the dedication took place in 1889. The architects responsible for the formation of this grand structure were Willoughby J. Edbrooke and Franklin Pierce Burnham, heads of a Chicago architectural firm. (Office of the Governor, 2015)

Over time, the capitol building has become more modern, as well as more crowded. With day to day operations that include many groups of people, as well as chartered tours on a daily basis, the capitol is large hub for centralized government operations and all who are included in those processes.

To Sit or Not to Sit: How Hearing Room Design Affects Protest

pBecause of the nature of this research, credible resources were difficult to find. Many government site concerning the layout of the building or citizen visitation to the building were outdated, difficult to navigate, and often didn’t contain pertinent information. Due to this research issue, personal video and online interviews were done to determine the opinions of students who have participated in protests at the capitol building.

Recently, a bill known as HB 51 was introduced and bought to committee. This bill would affect reporting standards for campus sexual assault, and because of the content, many Atlanta based college students staged sit in protests at hearings.

The first hearing, when the bill went to sub-committee, was held in a room on the second floor of the capitol building. Seating within this room had space for a maximum of thirty people with interconnected metal and cloth cushion chairs. Around the room was standing space that was packed with people, three to four deep in places.

The second hearing, as the bill went on to committee, occurred within a space designed for another thirty maximum. This room had seating with pew style benches laid out in three sections, with poles in the aisles between the three impeding standing space and views of the front of the room. In the back was a narrow aisle that protesters stood in, again sometimes three or four people deep.

Students who attended both of these hearings tended to echo each other when asked to describe what the spaces felt like to them. Common themes included descriptions of the rooms as “crowded,””cramped,” “overheated,” “loud,” and even “chaotic.”

GSU student and activist Sandy Andino (who gave permission for her name and quotes to be used in this document) stated that she felt that the limited amount of seating was because “they didn’t want to [sic] many people there for whatever reason,” and that the “only reason [she] could see anything was [because she] was standing.”

In a similar interview, another GSU student and activist, Hunter MacConnell, stated that many who attended the hearings seemed “very clearly not comfortable for having to stand for [a] long period of time” and that there were a few people who sat “on the floor in front of the door just to last [for the whole] hearing.”