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Legacy to Mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson taking shape

An aerial view of where the artistic tribute will adorn the intersection of Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue (Photo by Adam Shumaker for Central Atlanta Progress)

By Maria Saporta

A legacy to honor the intertwined lives of Atlanta Mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson will adorn the northern part of Woodruff Park and activate the plaza in front of the fountain at the corner of Peachtree and Auburn Avenue.

Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the City of Atlanta have just announced the four finalist teams have been selected from a call for submissions to design a public commemoration in honor of Allen and Jackson – inspired by the book by Gary Pomerance – “Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn.”

Former Mayor Ivan Allen Jr., left, and Mayor Maynard Jackson seen on Sept. 25, 1974 in Atlanta (Photo by Chuck Vollertsen of Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP with permission from Central Atlanta Progress to use the image)

The multi-faceted initiative is the Atlanta Legacy Makers, and it includes a series of podcasts as well as testimonials to better understand the relationship of Atlanta’s two iconic mayors and their families from segregation to integration.

A curatorial committee of 16 architects, artists and other civic players is being chaired by Tristan Al-Haddad, creative director of Formations Studio who is also a faculty member in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech.

“The challenge of this project is how to honor the explicit legacy of two men and two families and what they represented to Atlanta and its history,” Al-Haddad said in an interview. “I think it’s going to be a really powerful project that will contribute to Atlanta’s legacy of creating a more holistic and equitable city.”

The committee, which Al-Haddad described as an all-star lineup of Atlanta architects, artists and activists picked the four finalist teams from 16 submissions.

The four finalist teams are:

  • The firm obj includes architects, sound artists and an industrial designer. The team is being led by Georgia Tech graduate Merica Jensen, and it has both cultural and disciplinary diversity, according to Al-Haddad.
  • Point Office, led by architects Matthew Weaver and Clark Tate, have teamed up with artist William Downs. The submission is “a strong figural work” that combines architecture and sculpture.
  • “Arcs” team includes a diverse group of architects, artists and technologists. It is led by architect Pavan Iyer, who is collaborating with artist Bradley Bowers.
  • Power Haus Creative, founded by Ash Nash, has teamed up with the DTJ Design firm and Todd Hill. Al-Haddad said the team is a collective under the umbrella of DTJ, an): It’s a collective under the umbrella of DTJ, Todd Hill. The team, which includes seven artists, is proposing a collage display.

Fredalyn Frasier, CAP’s project director of planning and urban design, said the initial concepts from each of the teams will be refined before final submissions. At that ppoint, she envisions an opportunity to share the various designs with the public through virtual sessions in late April through May. The process also includes an Atlanta Public Schools’ student art challenge that will be involved with the design teams.

Illustrative map showing the location of the artistic memorial to Atlanta Mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and Maynard Jackson (Special: Atlanta Legacy Makers)

The curatorial committee will make a recommendation and a winning design should be announced in the fall. It is estimated the project will cost at least $3 million, which is being raised through CAP and the city in a fundraising campaign that will be launched in April.

“The final design and full funding will partially dictate the installation timeline, but the goal is to have the funds in place to complete the installation by the end of 2022/early 2023,” Frasier wrote in an email.

Samara Minkin, who oversees special projects, public arts and culture for the City of Atlanta, said the goal is to make the northern plaza at Woodruff Park a destination that speaks to Atlanta’s unique history.

“We want to use the strength of these two legacies to bring us together as a beloved community,” said Minkin, who added it will be a place where Atlantans and visitors can come to better understand the city’s civil rights history through the lives of two change makers. “This monument will say so much about us and who we want to be.”

Al-Haddad said he is looking for a proposal with “strong urban design, strong city making, strong place making and urbanism.”

The design should “speak to the legacy of Mayors Allen and Jackson and their relationship,” Al-Haddad added. “It can be celebrated in explicit ways or more nuanced ways, celebrating the spirit of their relationship, not just looking backwards, but looking forwards.”

Gene Kansas

Gene Kansas introduces the May 31 program with Gary Pomerantz, author of “Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn” (Photo by Luke Beard for Constellations)

Note to readers: the Atlanta Legacy Makers initiative came about after developer Gene Kansas invited Pomerance to talk about his book and describe how two Atlanta families lived separate and unequal, yet parallel lives over decades. After the talk, which included members of the Allen and Jackson families, I wrote a column urging the community to celebrate the legacy of the two leaders with statues or an artistic monument at the corner of Peachtree and Auburn. As you can see, the idea took hold. I look forward to seeing the design proposals from the finalists and sharing them with you.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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1 Comment

  1. Matthew Cartledge March 2, 2021 11:34 am

    Please correct the typo in the firm description portion:
    “Al-Haddad said the team is a collective under the umbrella of DTJ, an): It’s a collective under the umbrella of DTJ, Todd Hill.”
    The subsequent paragraph also has a misspelling:
    “At that ppoint,”
    Thank youReport


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