Campus open space today is a combination of plazas, streets, and city parks. Although not heavily used by the campus community, Woodruff Park and Hurt Park, owned by the City of Atlanta, are maintained in part by the university. (See Image 3.10 and 3.11) As Georgia State grows, other parks and plazas may become more relevant to the campus community. Steve Polk Plaza, at the intersection of Central Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, and the Underground Promenade between Central and Pryor Street, are now in the expanded campus district. Talmadge Plaza, just south of Polk Plaza, may also become a resource.
Streets in the campus district vary widely in their character and condition. (See Image 3.12) Some, such as Broad Street, are quite pedestrian-friendly and have become gathering spaces for students. Others, such as Courtland Street, are hostile to pedestrians and present serious pedestrian-vehicular conflicts. The university, in partnership with Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the City of Atlanta, is currently undertaking two major streetscape projects that will narrow the carriage ways on Decatur Street and Piedmont Avenue, expand the sidewalks, and add street side trees. Separately, CAP is also undertaking a similar project on Marietta Street west of Peachtree Street to Centennial Olympic Park and on Edgewood and Auburn Avenues in association with the planned street car line.
The most problematic street in the district may be Collins Street. This two-block segment below the Courtland Street Viaduct was described in interviews as “hostile” and “forbidding,” yet it provides major pedestrian connections and conflicts with service vehicles in the heart of the campus.
There are several off-street plazas on the main campus. The “L” shaped Library Plaza between Decatur and Courtland streets is the largest and most popular outdoor gathering space on campus. It provides a variety of seating opportunities, has water features for visual and auditory interest, colorful seasonal plantings, and provides shade during all daylight hours. This space is elevated and separated from the main flow of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. (See Images 3.13 & 3.14)
The second largest plaza fronts Decatur Street at the second level of the Urban Life Building. It offers little shade and minimal visual interest, focal point, or quality gathering nodes. A small courtyard east of Alumni Hall serves students as a break and lunch place. Seemingly more popular among staff than students, a small sunken garden west of Classroom Building South along Central Avenue is furnished with tables and seating edged by soft landscape. There are two landscaped gardens with lawn panels and benches in front of the Sports Arena on Decatur Street. They function mainly as a balance to the surrounding dense campus buildings.
Other areas sprinkled around campus could contribute to visual quality with landscape improvements, site furniture and other pedestrian amenities. These include small planters around bases of buildings, giving the impression of leftover rather than purposely programmed space. In need of renovation, these areas are notable for overgrown vegetation and poor quality. Surface parking could be greatly enhanced with more landscaping. (See Figure 3.3 on page 3.6)
© 2006 Georgia State University.