Grant Park Gateway - Alternative Design Input

On October 9, 2017, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed authorized his administration to work with Grant Park community members to create a plan that preserves trees and improves connectivity.

Concept 6: Performance area within bowl. Restaurant at new zoo entrance. View details

The current city plan below creates numerous barriers to connectivity. Details

View Concept 1 by Atlanta City Studio
City Plans with Elevations (PDF) | Simple Tree Chart (PDF) | Design-Build Contract | City Plans

Concepts 1 and 2: Revisiting Initial RFP from October 2016

Concepts 1 and 2 are from the Design-Build RFP October 2016 prepared by the City of Atlanta's Atlanta City Studio.

Both are very bike friendly and preserve the adjacent concert venue where Grant Park's Summer Shade Festival occurs.

Concept 3: Stairways instead of Connectivity (Current City Plan)

A revision made to connect Ormewood based on a traffic study presented at the start of 2017 appears to have changed the outcome of the RFP, which led to the plan below that blocks bike and stroller paths and removes trees in the bowl.

The rendering below from April 2017 depicts a large stairway on the north side of the proposed deck. A pedestrian "fly-over" bridge connects to the surface of the deck. Traffic from Confederate Ave goes down three levels through a tunnel to the lower level of the deck. The stairway and tunnel below would block east-west bike access to the park from Confederate Ave. The stairway would also prevent bikes and strollers from connecting to the upper level of the deck without crossing at the busy entrance corner of Boulevard and Confederate.

Twenty-one healthy trees would be cut down on Boulevard to add a wider sidewalk. Eight large trees would be removed at the Summer Shade Festival main performance seating area to make way for the large stairway. Dozens of trees would be removed to provide space for temporary dirt strorage on the north side of the deck.

A bandstand on top of the parking deck will entertain 7,000+ attendees. The adjacent "Bowl" performance space will be filled with dirt, a stairway and exposed tunnel garage openings will be added facing Boulevard and the lake. Bike connectivity to Grant Park will be blocked and strollers will be unable to access the park from Confederate Avenue without using an elevator.

Stairway blocks access to deck from park, and access to park from Confederate Avenue.

South side of Bowl is replaced by embankment for stairway.
New trees shown in lower bowl might be a mistake by architects since GPC has stated that existing open spaces in park will be retained.

Back of restaurant as seen from Boulevard and Ormewood.

Concept 4: Bike and stroller friendly. Removes north stairway and tunnel.

Ormewood could connect back to Boulevard using existing south entrance. Stairs by café facing zoo. Bike paths to both sides of deck. Reception facility on west side with balcony. By moving restaurant, Boulevard streetscape remains unobstructed. Main advantages: Larger green space, longer entry loop for bus unloading.

Concept 5: Connecting Confederate Avenue to upper level of deck

We have an opportunity to create a linear park space (simlar to Ponce De Leon as one travels toward Decatur). The new zoo entrance could face a continuous green space with a pathway in the park that continues to Fort Walker. Traffic could connect to the upper level of the deck from Confederate. The existing entrance by Fort Walker could connect to the lower level of the deck.

The alternate plans depicted here would preserve 42 trees around the deck while connecting a wide sidewalk within the park for bikes to travel over the deck, separate from traffic.

By avoiding a fly-over bridge, the deck would be 3 feet lower on the north "Bowl" side to integrate with the park while reducing fill dirt over tree roots along Boulevard. The planned deck is alreay low enough on the south side. Avoiding terracing in southeast corner of the grassy field would reduce the fill dirt to 3 feet. An 8 to 12 foot wide plank walkway (and bocce ball court) could reside over a hollow storage space on the east side of the deck to further protect the tree roots. Storage could be accessed from the top level of parking.

Residents are requesting a variance to the Beltline overlay which would require replacing large trees on Boulevard with a wide sidewalk. All new construction within one mile of the Beltline requires a wide sidewalk next to the street unless the city grants a variance.

Download SketchUp Files and Send Input.

Grant Park Zoo Atlanta Parking Deck by Grantpark resident Loren Heyns on Sketchfab.

Flipping the traffic flow - By switching the deck traffic flow to enter the upper deck level from Confederate, this plan preserves all 24 large hardwood trees around the deck, plus 18 smaller trees at the northwest corner by the Bowl entertainment venue. Deck traffic could be hidden from the park under the base of a pavilion on a large hollow cylinder at the Confederate entrance. Traffic could optionally continue to the lower level after a one-level twist.

Concept 6: Performance area within Bowl. Restaurant pivoted to Zoo Entrance

The stage could be in the lower area of the bowl. The north side of the deck could have terraced seating overlooking the stage and hiding the side of the deck. A co-work space (shared with police and park volunteers) could reside in the upper level of the deck overlooking the stage.

The restaurant could be pivoted southwest to be part of the new zoo entrance. It could reside over an extended parking area with bus parking BELOW a garden area by the new zoo entrance.

Download SketchUp Files and Join our Community Design Team

Tree Preservation, Improved Bike Connectivity

According to the city arborist, the position of the deck is not the main issue for the trees on Boulevard, it's the amount of dirt that would need to be placed on their roots to achieve the prior goal of creating a completely flat surface between Boulevard and the grassy deck surface. By avoiding terrace-steps on the north end, the deck will be several feet lower than Boulevard which will blend with the slope of the surrounding park. Retaining the top 2 feet of the exiting slope on the north side is preferable to a fence along the edge of the park.

We can accommodate the requirement of the Beltline Overlay to create a wide pathway by locating the main path away from the street, over the top of the deck, as already planned by the architects (minus the stairway). The wide pathway could match the width of the path that continues through Fort Walker. A “Beltline Administrative Variation” can be issued by the Atlanta City Zoning department so we don't end up with two wide pathways running parallel. The city granted Topgolf Atlanta an exception to preserve their trees.

Altering the entire length of Boulevard within one mile from the Beltline to accommodate a wide Beltline-style path directly on the edge of Boulevard is far from realistic. The steep hillside on the edge of Fort Walker makes this impossible, plus we have a steep downward slope above the bowl entertainment venue. Craftsman style houses with a standard sidewalk and small front yards (without room for further reduction) reside further north. The contiguous solution would be for the wide pathway to reside within the park. Fortunately the deck planners have already included a wide pathway immediately to the west of the existing trees.

Over 7,000 square feet of solar panels could reside on the three levels of 6 foot wide ledges. Ledges would keep the deck cooler, shade balcony seating, provide cover from rain, and catch falls over the railing.

Archway inspired by stonework in forest by Westview Cemetary.

View details online at

46 feet is the shortest distance to hard drilling (49 to 51 feet from deck surface). So the deck could be 4 levels deep without hitting bedrock. Only 3 levels are planned, which allows for airflow on the west side. Closest distance to groundwater at time of drilling seems to be about 12 feet from the bottom of the deck at B-3 (44 feet from surface asphalt, 46 to 49 to top of deck).

Related Links by a large group of local residents
Donate to Legal Expenses spearheaded by Kevin Ward
Save the Trees GP Petition created by Jamie Ference
Save the Trees GP on Facebook by Leign and Teresa Finlayson
Details and Images (Google Doc) by Loren Heyns