NANCY O'NEIL         


Public Art
Glass Blocks

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Glass Collage - Atlanta:
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, Atlanta Georgia

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Tower Lobby windows
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, Atlanta, GA
General Services Administration, Atlanta Development Authority, and the
City of Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs

The Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, located in busy downtown Atlanta, is one of the largest Federal Office Buildings on the East Coast. It houses dozens of federal agencies with over 5000 employees and a comparable number of daily visitors.

The Federal Center incorporates the 1924 portion of Rich's Department Store, a landmark Atlanta institution. Rich's was the location of important events in the Civil Rights Movement, and the public art needed to convey the site's historical significance.

"Glass Collage -- Atlanta" is my project for the wall of glass in the Tower Lobby. It is 150' wide and 20' tall. It is viewed from outside as well as inside, from all the way across the plaza and by people riding by on the bus. It looks good both day and night. When I designed the piece I was very mindful of the possibility for colored projections washing across the entire lobby space, covering wall, floor and people with splashes of color. At certain times of day the overall effect is of a tunnel of color and light.

Interestingly, the piece also has the unusual ability to almost disappear from view at certain angles. This, too, was part of my plan. The individual panels are separated by 4" deep dividers, which create a flipbook type of effect. From the stairway, the 150' wide window wall appears to fold up on itself.

The design is a woven composition, filled with photos, text, patterns, and imagery having to do with the history, culture and natural history of Atlanta and Georgia. It is research-based, with quotes from poets, authors, and political leaders, lyrics from music, material from the three Indian Mounds in Georgia, historic and contemporary photos, state flora and fauna, and more.

The imagery is photo silk-screened and fired, and sandblasted into beautiful mouthblown and other handmade glass. It has immediate "grab" for the casual viewer just passing through the lobby, but is filled with details to hold the interest of those who experience it everyday.

The art critic at the Atlanta Journal Constitution described "Glass Collage -- Atlanta" as "delightful -- a syncopated composition of color, image and text".

Project photos by Stephen Traves