Calling for Student Success at the Bell Building

Harry Wyman | The Signal

Almost every person in America has used a phone. Almost every person in Atlanta has used a phone.

And for many years, it was made possible with this one building.

Located at 25 Auburn Ave, right behind 25 Park Pl, the Bell Building is getting a $30 million renovation as it is being turned into a new headquarters for the National Institute for Student Success

Built in 1907, the historic building has been through additions and multiple uses before being abandoned in the 1980’s. The Bell Building was originally built as a telephone exchange building for the Southern Bell company which eventually became BellSouth. 

This building transformed communication in Atlanta by bringing “machine switching” technology to the region. This technology is what gives phones the classic dial-tone. Georgia State eventually bought the Bell building in 2007.

The original plan was to demolish the old building in order to build a parking lot for the buildings being constructed in the area, but Georgia State received backlash from the community that felt strongly about the potential loss of history in downtown Atlanta.

“We don’t have that many old buildings left downtown,” Darin Givens, founder of ATL Urbanists, has said to Atlanta Magazine.

The Bell building is one of the oldest buildings in the downtown area and is the oldest building related to telephone communication in all of Atlanta. 

Initially Georgia State said that renovating the building was “cost prohibitive,” but the community rallied to the defense of the Bell building and now Georgia State is beginning a $30 million renovation. 

This 68,000 square foot building will house a new headquarters for the National Institute for Student Success. This group aims to eliminate achievement gaps in institutions of higher education caused by income disparities through access to tutors, mentors and other support systems.

NISS goes well beyond that though. 

According to Dr. Tim Renick, the executive director of Georgia State’s National Institute for Student Success, those with university degrees have higher income potential, higher life expectancy, and access to better healthcare, but unfortunately these degrees are not equally distributed. 

NISS uses a variety of tools to help underserved students get the support they need to achieve success at Georgia State. 

The Bell building began as a place of innovation for communication across Atlanta and now will become a home of innovation once again in advancing student success.