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Atlanta, Georgia

Noguchi Playscape

This angular brutalist playground turns playtime into modern art time. 

Most art is meant not to be touched, and most playgrounds are meant to crawled all over so they don’t immediately seem like a great combination but Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s Playscapes manages to make severe modern art out of what would otherwise be a standard playground space.

Completed in 1976 in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, the art piece was created as part of the city’s “Art in the Park” bicentennial event. The work was Noguchi’s only playground to be built in his lifetime, making it an even more unique work. There are sharply angled swing sets and minimalist monkey bars, as well as ultra-simplified teeter-totters and a tall slide that might almost look like a spaceship if it were designed by a someone working with simple shapes and primary colors.

Whether or not the art school play has become well-loved by the city’s citizenry. Noguchi passed away in 1988 making this work all the more treasured and valuable. Unfortunately, decades of being played on, sporadically cared for, and marked up by vandals left the playground appliances in pretty poor shape by the 2000s. Luckily, a local group looking to to preserve the art work have been able to restore the site to its original brightly minimalist glory. Unfortunately this restoration has led to another issue: bringing the playground up to modern safety standards. And to think the playground may not have been super fun to begin with.   

Know Before You Go

Easy to get to and open to the public. This is just inside the 12th Street gate in Piedmont Park.