Building and Design Team


Cousins / Gude

Gude Management Group, in partnership with Cousins Properties, provides comprehensive program management services to the Center for the development of the building. The GMG/Cousins team also facilitated the architectural competition that included some of the top international design firms.

Russell Moody Holder

H.J. Russell & Company, C.D. Moody Construction Company and Holder Construction Company, three Atlanta-based construction firms teamed in a joint venture, won the competitive at-risk proposal process to provide construction management services to build the Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Russell, Moody, Holder Joint Venture is charged with executing the visionary design of the Freelon/HOK architectural design team. Michael Russell, Dave Moody and Tommy Holder share a long history of collaboration on major projects of this size and scope. They have worked on more than 50 joint ventures, including urban projects and cultural institutions.



Phil Freelon, Owner of the Freelon Group, Building Design Architect

Phil Freelon, The Center’s design architect, was chosen following an international design competition. The winning design was then developed with the goal of creating a physical representation of The Center’s vision and a world-class destination for Atlanta. The curving walls embrace the interior exhibits and supporting program spaces in a manner that suggests the joining of hands. This powerful gesture also alludes to the idea that people from all walks of life can work together toward a common goal.

Freelon’s design achievements include cultural, civic and academic projects for some of America’s most respected cultural institutions. He leads the design team for the $500M Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, now in construction on the National Mall, and is the architect for the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Emancipation Park in Houston and multiple library projects in Washington, DC. He is an Obama appointee to the National Commission of Fine Arts, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and a recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. Phil is the founder of The Freelon Group, a Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based firm that recently joined global design firm Perkins+Will.

HOK, Building Architect of Record

The winning architectural design for the Center for Civil and Human Rights building came from award-winning architects Phil Freelon, FAIA, of North Carolina and HOK of Atlanta, Georgia.

HOK is the largest US-based architecture-engineering firm and the third largest interior design firm. The firm has received several awards and recognitions, including recognition as the number one architecture and engineering firm by Engineering News-Record and Architectural Record, and also received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best in Real Estate Award—Best in Design for their collaborative work with the Freelon Group on The Center. 



David Rockwell, President and Founder of Rockwell Group, Exhibition Designer

Rockwell Group is The Center’s exhibition designer and has created a dynamic synergy between the curator’s story and the physical layout of the galleries. The company has designed unique immersive spaces using a comprehensive array of audiovisual media, interactives, photography and textual and environmental graphics. They have taken the curatorial narrative and given it a thoughtful and exciting three-dimensional presence. 

Rockwell Group is a multidisciplinary architecture and design studio in New York with offices in Madrid and Shanghai. Founded by David Rockwell, Rockwell Group has worked on projects including the W Hotels (New York, Paris, Singapore, and Vieques); the TED Theater (Vancouver, BC); the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (New York); and set design for “Kinky Boots,” “Lucky Guy” and “Hairspray.” Honors include the Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Award for Interior Design, Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Architecture Practices and the Presidential Design Award for the renovation of the Grand Central Terminal.

Jill Savitt, Human Rights Exhibition Curator

In her role as Human Rights Exhibition Curator of the “Spark of Conviction: Global Human Rights Movement,” gallery, Jill Savitt helped establish the relevance between historical and contemporary human rights issues.

Jill serves as a special advisor at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, working with the Center for Genocide Prevention, which focuses on issues related to contemporary genocides. She has expertise advocacy campaigning for human rights issues. She founded and directed Dream for Darfur in 2007, a campaign to urge the Chinese government to take specific actions regarding the Darfur crisis in the lead up to the Beijing Games.  Before founding Dream for Darfur, Jill was Director of Public Programs at Human Rights First.

Jill has taught a course on human rights advocacy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her work has been profiled in publications such as The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker.

George C. Wolfe, Chief Creative Officer

In his role as the Opening Exhibition’s Chief Creative Officer, George C. Wolfe created an interactive, multi-sensory visitor experience in the “Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights Movement” gallery. Working together with the design firm Rockwell Group, Wolfe conceptualized exhibitions that bring civil and human rights to life through the use of storytelling. Wolfe is the Tony Award winning director of such Broadway shows as “Jelly’s Last Jam”, “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk”, “Angels in America”, “The Normal Heart” and most recently Nora Ephron's “Lucky Guy”.  He is the writer of the The Colored Museum and received the Directors Guild Award for his film,  “Lackawana Blues”. From 1993-2005 he was the Producer of The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, was named a living landmark by the New York Landmark's Conservancy and for the past six years he has served on The Presidents Committee for The Arts and The Humanities.