Among the shops, restaurants, and venues of Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead section, there’s barely a hint of public green space—a problem compounded by what surrounds visitors: cars and interstates. Without an old elevated train trestle or similar out-of-use piece of infrastructure to convert into parkland, how do you solve the problem? The Buckhead Community Improvement District decided to take a halfmile stretch over the Georgia State Route 400 highway to create an elevated park from scratch.
About two years ago, the organization put out an RFP and selected New York–based architects Rogers Partners, working with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, to conduct a concept study. Their Buckhead Park Over GA400 proposal calls for a curvilinear greenway that meanders over the highway. The scheme is eye-catching and unexpected, complete with picnic areas, cycling paths, native landscaping, and links to Atlanta’s subway system. But it was also born out of a sense of reality: the proposed park abuts private property, making the strategic connections that will be built to street level more appealing to would-be developers.
“We’re building 7½ acres over the highway,” says firm principal Rob Rogers. “That’s a lot of open space. So we were able to program the big area we call the Commons at the north; the town square, which is the plaza in the middle; and a whole series of more colorful botanic gardens that reach down to the landmark crossing at Peachtree Street.”
But all this is still some way off. Rogers estimates a three-year period of design, engineering, and obtaining permits, followed by two to three years of construction. Then there’s securing a mix of public and private financing (the project could cost as much as $250 million) and establishing a conservancy to operate the park with the City of Atlanta. So the project is still in its infancy. But in an area starved for parkland, it can’t happen fast enough.