Before and after: Arts District Plaza will get major upgrades starting in March.
BY ELLIE HENSLEY
Midtown’s Arts District Plaza at the intersection of Peachtree and 15th Streets is set to undergo big improvements starting next month.
The updates to Arts District Plaza include new lighting, seating and landscaping on the Southeast and Southwest corners of the intersection. The centerpiece of the plaza will be Dorothy Berge’s 1968 sculpture, Sabine Woman, which is making a triumphant return to Midtown after spending some time away from the spotlight.
Read more for details about the project.
A site plan for the Arts District Plaza improvements.
Carving Out Places for People
In a dense urban environment where land is expensive and scarce, Midtown Alliance’s vision is to carve out places for people. One example is Arts District Plaza, created in 2008 at an intersection that serves as a gateway to the arts corridor that includes the Woodruff Arts Center and Museum of Design Atlanta.
Construction is scheduled to kick off in March on the Southwest corner of the plaza, where crews will be installing new lighting and multi-purpose platforms to accommodate casual seating and small performances. These improvements will all be centered around Sabine Woman, who will invite people to sit for a moment, enjoy a coffee break and people-watch at one of Midtown’s busiest intersections. Head over to our project page for more details.
Across the street, improvements to the Southeast corner will include communal tables for outdoor workspace that is adjacent to Colony Square’s new Building 500.
A rendering showing where Sabine Woman will be located on the Southwest corner of 15th and Peachtree.
A Serendipitous Return
The Sabine Woman watched over Midtown for nearly five decades as the district transformed from the center of a counterculture movement into the Heart of the Arts, a premier location for culture innovation, education and business. She was commissioned by Jim Cushman to stand in front of his new mixed-use development at 100 Colony Square.
The steel sculpture relocated several times over the years to make way for new development, ultimately being dismantled and put into storage in 2019 during the renovation and expansion of Colony Square. Sabine Woman will now be permanently relocated to Arts District Plaza’s Southwest corner.
“Serendipity stepped in to help us find the perfect home for her,” said Ginny Kennedy, Director of Urban Design at Midtown Alliance. “The search for a new home coincided with our planned improvements for Arts District Plaza, and there is no one with a more unique perspective on Midtown’s evolution along the Peachtree corridor than the Sabine Woman.”
Terry Kearns, a well known Atlanta urbanist and art enthusiast.
Over the years, the sculpture amassed many devoted fans among Atlanta’s arts community, among them Terry Kearns, an Atlanta urbanist who was a Georgia Tech student when Sabine Woman made her debut in 1968.
“It’s a significant piece of art in a significant place,” Kearns said. “This will be a mighty good thing for Midtown.”
The Important Role of Partnerships
Upgrades to the Arts District Plaza would not be possible without partnerships with property owners in Midtown. Cousins Properties is an important partner, because a portion of the new seating and landscaping on the Southwest corner of the plaza is on its property. Plaza improvements will dovetail with future renovations planned in front of its 1200 Peachtree office building.
On the Southeast corner, we look forward to co-sponsoring programs with North American Properties (NAP) outside of its reimagined Colony Square. NAP also generously donated Sabine Woman to Midtown Alliance last year.
“Developers keenly understand why placemaking is a critical component of successful destinations,” Kennedy said. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to collaborate and provide welcoming spots for people to gather, view public art, share ideas, relax and recharge. The single biggest impact we will have on Midtown over the next 10 years is to give people better public spaces.”