History of GCAA Building

Built as the Carter Carburetor complex at 711 North Grand in 1925, the current home of Grand Center Arts Academy was originally designed by Hugo Graf and included two buildings, one for office space and one for parking.

Visually separated by their differing size and construction materials, the two share a unifying style and are artfully connected by stepbacks. The smaller of the two buildings is two stories high, although the original plans called for it to grow into the first “skyscraper” west of the Mississippi until the Great Depression changed that goal.  Its Grand Boulevard facade is dominated by the huge arched window above the central entrance.

This arch is flanked on the second story by a colonnade, which gives way to stark, simple window openings as one moves toward the ends of the building.

Classical motifs in low bas-relief and a simple cornice decorate an otherwise austere surface. The central doorway is further emphasized by the vertically articulated mass of a cube-like “third floor.” It is this “third floor” along with the similarly treated parapets that provide the stylistic and visual link between the main building and the larger parking garage behind it. The dark brown, brick garage rises in six diminishing levels to an octagonal, central tower. Each level is emphasized by a border of gray stone facing around the top. Although of more modest material, it dominates the complex due to its size and strength of design. With its emphasis on mass and hard, mechanistic precision, the Carter Carburetor complex is a fine early example of modern American architecture.

The Lawrence Group redeveloped both buildings in 2010, turning the space into the Grand Center Arts Academy.  The redevelopment project remained true to the original style and history of the buildings, while simultaneously turning the space into an innovative and inspiring learning environment.

-Text adapted from the national Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, Midtown Historic District