Friday, September 1, 2006

Southern patchwork

On our recent visit to the Georgia Aquarium, on our way out of the building we noticed the Centennial Park right across the street. Since we had never been there (and since we had already paid our $10 to park) we decided to check it out. This was one of the areas used in the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, which was made into a nice green space for downtown Atlanta.

The area for the park began as an inner city patchwork of cracked-asphalt parking lots that doubled or tripled rates when conventions came to town. A room-for-a-week hotel, with yellowed curtains. Broken glass, from drunks' discarded bottles and the smashed windows of cars thoughtlessly parked on side streets. From this, a 21-acre center-city neighborhood was reduced to red dirt and reincarnated as the $60 million Centennial Olympic Park. (From a news article on the building of the park.)

Centennial Olympic Park is built on a quilt theme.

Pathways of commemorative brick paving stones (800,000 in all) stitch together the park’s landscape quilt pieces. Pedestrians can follow the Southern patchwork quilt design of the plaza surrounding the Olympic ring fountain.

Along the east border are the Quilt Plazas, five quilt "patches" of masonry, fountains, and gardens, of contrasting bricks that tell the story of the Centennial Olympic Games.

One of the quilts is titled the Quilt of Remembrance, it pays respect to the bombing victims and contains colored marble from five continents.

Finding the park was a pleasant surprise, uncrowded on this Sunday morning. Finding the quilt theme was another surprise. Who would have thought that traditional patchwork quilt designs would be incorporated into this park, this space of international acclaim. What do the Olympics have in common with a Southern patchwork quilt? Is it the piecing together of all different shapes and colors to be joined together into one common goal, finding those special pieces of each color and texture that will stand out on their own and also work together to accomplish the final project?

Well, all the designers and craftsmen definitely came together on this project, with the end result a beautiful peaceful space among the skyscrapers of downtown Atlanta.

Centennial Park


Motherkitty said...

Lovely. I remember the bombing at the park in 1996. These pictures of the same area are fantastic and look like the spaces were well-thought-out during the design phase. What a pleasant surprise. I also love the quilt theme. Do the fountains spray or are there just reflection pools?

If we ever get to Atlanta, I would love to visit this area. Glad it's now some place for everyone to enjoy rather than a derelict, run-down trash pile.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I've been to Atlanta several times, but I don't think I remember seeing this park...I know I would have remembered it. It's beautiful.

colleen said...

Nice tour. It reminds me of when we came across the John Denver park when we were in Aspen for a wedding last fall and what a find that was!

John Cowart said...

I'd never heard of this before. Thanks. The park theme certainly fits in with your Patchwork Reflections.