Wednesday, August 31, 2011

World Athletes Monument: An Artistic Tribute With Healing Powers

World Athletes Monument
World Athletes Monument
I remember vividly the World Athletes Monument being the place where people went to mourn when Princess Diana was killed in 1997. There were lots of flowers laid at the base and CNN reported an estimated 20,000 people went to the monument shortly after her passing. Why there, you ask?

Commissioned by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Architecture (the link to Princess Diana) the World Athletes Monument, sometimes still called the Prince of Wales’s Monument, was built for the 1996 Olympic Games to pay “tribute to the athletes and spirit of international athletic competition.”

Today, the Monument stands mostly unvisited, not due to its nature, but because it’s basically on an island in an area that receives high motor traffic and little pedestrian traffic.

Fortunately for Atlantans and visitors to our city, that high motor traffic gives thousands of eyes to the Monument's magnificence every day. I personally get to see it usually two or three times a week, sometimes more.

World Athletes Monument
World Athletes Monument
With five eight-foot high Atlas figures atop a thirty-five foot limestone base, it’s not a monument that you’re going to miss. And its solitary, triangular island home ensures a great view…no visual obstacles. In fact, there are quite a few fantastic backdrops, depending on where you’re viewing it from.

Some of those responsible for the creation and execution of the World Athletes Monument have rather impressive resumes.

Instrumental in the overall project was Rodney Mims Cook, Jr., descendant of two Atlanta Mayors, instrumental in the Save the Fox campaign, and more recently leader of the Millennium Gate project at Atlantic Station.

Cook has been described by some as “…a champion of beauty in the city of Atlanta.” I’m inclined to agree. I was very impressed with Mr. Cook when I met him and I love the monuments he's made possible for Atlanta. I'm sure we'll see more of him!

One of the artists of the World Athletes Monument was none other than Martin Dawe, founder of CherryLion Sculpture Studios and the artist responsible for Landing Gear in Buckhead and a life-size bronze of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

World Athletes Monument
World Athletes Monument
A number of years after Diana’s passing, the World Athletes Monument again became a place of healing for the citizens of Atlanta. Many Monument visitors opted to place small American flags instead of flowers to acknowledge the life of President Ronald Reagan, who passed in 2004.

As a city of humans, I’m glad to have a place where we can publicly mourn and as city that loves its sports, I’m glad to have the Monument to celebrate athletes. Few monuments, I think, have such a wide ranging role in giving to its citizens.

The Return

I’ve already said that I return to the World Athletes Monument on a weekly basis, but I’ve only been to the base once, so I definitely will return to the base. That really is the best view of the Monument. Just be careful for that Atlanta traffic when crossing the street to get to it.

Touring the World Athletes Monument

Date toured: Sunday, August 17, 2011
Location: Peachtree Street at West Peachtree Street (location and map)

World Athletes Monument
World Athletes Monument

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