ATL might not be as renowned for its architecture as, say, Chicago, but that's not to say we don't have our fair share of interesting roadside finds. For every slick condo building or ostentatious McMansion, there's a Flatiron (the original, thankyouverymuch), a Moorish-Egyptian theatre and a pristinely modern museum. But what of the guitar-shaped homes, the Oval Office replicas and the Dwarf Houses among us? Below, find a handful of our favorite off-the-beaten-path architectural wonders at which to shamelessly gawk:
The Glass House
This humble abode is nestled right in the heart of Grant Park on Berne St. and is made entirely of glass. Don't worry – some of the walls are frosted (the bathroom, for instance), because we can't sacrifice all of our privacy for the sake of architectural innovation. Did we mention that the bulk of the interior walls are mobile? It's true. It also overlooks what will one day be the Beltline's Westside trail. Perhaps even more unbelievable is the fact that the house can be yours (for a night or two, at least) via the wonders of AirBNB. The home is divided into two separate loft units – upstairs and downstairs – the bottom of which will sleep six comfortably.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Well, technically, it's in Lilburn. But once you see this jaw-dropping architectural wonder in person, the half-hour joyride up I-85 will be more than worth it. It's downright astonishing that this mandir only took about a year and a half to construct, given that 34,000 individual pieces of stone were hand-carved in India, shipped here and carefully assembled by volunteers, like the world's most epic 30,000-square foot game of Jenga.
The mandir is open to visitors with no admission charge, though we recommend ponying up the $5 for an audio tour and getting the full experience. Note: fascinating though the place may be, keep in mind that it's still a functioning place of worship, so there's a certain etiquette to be followed: no shoulders or knees exposed (they do provide wraps), and definitely no tweeting/texting/Instagramming inside the mandir.
The Dwarf Castle
Once upon a time, there was a truck driver living in the enchanted forest of Roswell who decided to build a fairytale-worthy castle for his wife, complete with yard gnomes, a moat, turrets and a drawbridge. While this modern chateau in North Fulton isn't open to the public (the wrought-iron fortifications and swimming pool-cum-moat see to that), we'd guess that the royal family within is probably fairly accustomed to seeing a few gawkers here and there craning their necks for a glimpse. So, if you're curious, hop on GA-400 and ogle away.
The White House Replica
Got $9.9 million? Or maybe enough Ikea furniture to fill up 16,500 square feet? Plus, a lifelong dream of kicking it in the Oval Office? This quarter-scale model of the White House in North Druid Hills could be all yours. In the meantime, while you're saving up that cash and perfecting your presidential wardrobe, take a drive past 3687 Briarcliff Road and soak up ATL's own little slice of 1600 Pennsylvania. (We're not entirely sure the "God <3 You" topiaries outside are authentic to the original, though.)
The Guitar House
Remember the good ol' days when expressing your love for music meant scrawling band names on your Trapper Keeper, or maybe adorning your apartment walls with a nice velvet Zeppelin tapestry? For one Fayetteville man, that simply wouldn't do. Elvis Carden, a country-western artist, spent 16 years constructing his guitar-shaped residence on 119 Wilkins Road to pay homage to his love of music and maybe provide some inspiration along the way. It must have worked—the man has at least one song titled "Living In An Old Guitar" under his belt.