One of Atlanta’s trendier, historically rich, and most rapidly changing neighborhoods officially lays claim to two new public spaces, including one in the shadow of a well-known art installation by the late artist Sol LeWitt.

That’s the word today from Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association officials, who are calling the Highland Avenue pocket parks both “transformative” and a “major step forward in the area's revitalization,” in that they help enrich O4W’s recreation and cultural landscape.

The first project, 54 Columns Park,” has taken shape at the highly visible corner of North Highland Avenue and Glen Iris Drive.

Upgrades around LeWitt’s public art installation “54 Columns”—which is Fulton County’s most valuable art holding, according to nonprofit organization Fourth Ward Neighbors—include seating areas, a terraced wall, a winding pathway, improved landscaping, fresh signage, and new entry points.

How the "54 Columns" corner site appeared along Highland Avenue prior to construction of its new pocket park. Courtesy of Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association

Entry to the "54 Columns" park space today. Courtesy of Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association

LeWitt installed the piece—a collection of 54 concrete columns between 10 and 20 feet tall—on donated land at the corner in 1999. The columns were designed to evoke Atlanta’s ever-changing skyline, but not all observers have been impressed.

Two decades ago, irked neighbors planted trees to block the minimalist installation from public view, but those were later removed by the city. And as Atlas Obscura once put it, the “strange assortment of concrete pillars inspires reflection in some, confusion in others,” as it’s been mistaken for an incomplete construction project and a destroyed building. (But the most enduring art, after all, can be divisive, even when it’s nondescript.)  

The push to turn the sculptures’ greenspace into a more functional public gathering place comes as part of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ Highland & Sampson Revitalization Plan.

Officials previously told Urbanize Atlanta the project cost was roughly $100,000. Park Pride also contributed significant funding through its Grantmaking Program, as did the Mark Taylor family, which was instrumental in funding the original project and collaborating with LeWitt  25 years ago, according to family spokesperson Chuck Taylor.

“Were excited that the neighborhood is taking the sculpture to the next level, inspiring more visitors and more conversations about this fabulous piece of artwork,” Taylor noted in the announcement.

Courtesy of Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association

Board Chairman Robb Pitts, who spearheaded the initiative, said in a prepared statement commissioners are “thrilled that we were able to help fund [the greenspace] to enhance the enjoyment of arts and culture for the residents and visitors” of the city and county.

The street’s second new parklet can be found next to breakfast and brunch spot Bomb Biscuits Atlanta.

The "Highland Avenue PATH Greenspace” is described as a welcoming urban greenspace with seating at a popular O4W entrance to the Freedom PATH Trail, which links downtown to Stone Mountain.

Other recent rejuvenation efforts led by the Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association include cleanup and plantings at a small park where Corley Street meets Highland Avenue. That space now hosts free yoga sessions, with new planters in the avenue’s median, a new bike corral, and painted crosswalks that help create a safer, welcoming atmosphere.

“This has been a two-year journey, and it could not have been achieved without the support of dedicated neighbors, elected officials, committed donors, and the business community,” said Tom Boyle, Fourth Ward Neighbors president. “We are immensely grateful for their time and funding."

As shown in earlier renderings, revitalization plans at the "54 Columns" park where North Highland Avenue meets Glen Iris Drive. Fulton County Board of Commissioners/Perennial Properties


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