In my opinion, public art brings a city to life. Whether it is an incredible piece of graffiti executed guerilla style under the cover of night, or a commissioned mural/sculpture laboriously created and placed openly with community approval, public art enriches the urban landscape. But when Isamu Noguchi created Playscape in Piedmont Park in the city of Atlanta, he took the idea of public art to a whole other level.
Playscape is a playground and sculpture all in one. Sadly, it is the only playground Noguchi created in the United States. The New York Parks Commissioner and the WPA Federal Art Project rejected Noguchi’s plans for a similar structure in the 1930s, as did the United Nations headquarters in the 50s. Luckily, Nogochi had more success in 1975 when the High Museum of Atlanta sponsored him to create Playscape in 1975.
Noguchi felt that it was better to interact with sculpture, rather than simply view it from afar. The playground is the epitome of this statement. The park is made up of varying shapes in primary colors – from a spiral slide, to a rectangular slide, to swings mounted from a giant triangle, all of which are visually appealing in and of themselves. But the shapes and colors truly invite children to interact with the Playscape environment. Rather than requiring that children slide on the slide, they could climb it, or roll down it, or use it as a castle or a fortress. Point being, the play forms are flexible, and Noguchi very thoughtfully constructed them this way.