The Story Behind Isamu Noguchi's Playscapes in Atlanta

The Story Behind Isamu Noguchi's Playscapes in Atlanta

Posted on: May 28, 2019

I think of playgrounds as a primer of shapes and functions; simple, mysterious, and evocative; thus educational. - Isamu Noguchi

Playscapes, designer and sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s only playground in the United States, is a set of colorful, architectural, and flexible metal and concrete pieces set in a clearing in Atlanta’s wooded Piedmont Park. Perhaps more importantly, it’s the expression of decades of thinking and tinkering about the best way to get children moving, thinking, and exploring the natural world.

The 1976 playground was originally sponsored by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and the National Endowment for the Arts, and it demonstrated a commitment to bringing art to the people and to public spaces that resonates with the way we are making and remaking cities today. In projects from New York’s High Line, which includes a children’s area, to the ubiquitous “splash pads” incorporated into center-city parks, we see Noguchi’s ideas at work. As art critic Thomas Hess wrote of one of Noguchi’s unbuilt projects, this “playground, instead of telling the child what to do (swing here, climb there), becomes a place for endless exploration.”