Beginning as part of a proposal by Robert and Company Associates in 1966 for a raised platform campus, the Georgia State University plaza now represents a crucial aspect of the university (Georgia State College Comprehensive Campus Master Plan 1). The plaza, as seen in the above photo, now acts as a meeting place for students, faculty, and visitors. Located at the core of the unviersity’s campus, the plaza experiences high pedestrian traffic as people move across the busy metropolitan campus.
The plaza holds a significant location on Georgia State University’s campus, particularly because of the access it provides to several of the schools’ main buildings, including Kell Hall, Sparks Hall, Library North (shown above), and General Classroom Building. With the construction of General Classroom Building in 1971, the platform system proposed five years earlier by Robert and Company Associates was realized, and the plaza was born. The main entrance to General Classroom was built on the new plaza, and main entrances to Kell Hall, Sparks Hall, and the University Library were raised to the new ground level (Georgia State University Facilities Master Plan, 40). By placing the main entrances to these buildings on the interior plaza, which was at the time enclosed from the city on its south east boundary by the unbroken wall running parallel to Courtland Street, the elevated plaza removed pedestrians from the busy city streets and created a safer, more intimate campus.
Along with the construction of General Classroom Building and the elevated plaza in 1971 came the construction of a bridge over Decatur Street, which linked the plaza and the core buildings surrounding it to the Business Administration Building, the structure which now exists as part of Classroom South and Library South (Georgia State University Facilities Master Plan 40). By providing students, faculty, and visitors with a safe means of travel across bustling Decatur Street, the new bridge extended the elevated plaftorm plaza and created a more pedestrian friendly campus.
The above picture shows a view from the Decatur Street bridge. This bridge, as aforementioned, allows students, faculty, and wayfaring photographers a convenient and safe crossing of Decatur Street. Interestingly, this view also reveals an interesting connection to Gunther Barth’s book City People. In his chapter on department stores, Barth discusses the manner in which the introduction of the department store to downtowns effected the sidewalks by these stores. Barth claims that the introduction of the department store resulted in “clean sidewalks” meant to “entice women to linger in front of store windows without fear of being harassed by draymen and crowded by office boys” (Barth 146). Urban colleges and universities have a similar impact on the surrounding streets and sidewalks. Looking down from the Decatur Street bridge, a view shown in the above image, one may notice the clean and aesthetically pleasing sidewalk. The clean concrete, juxtaposed with the dark asphalt to the left and the red brick of General Classroom Building to the right, encourages students, faculty, and visitors to linger on the campus’ sidewalks. Furthermore, the regular spacing of lamp posts fosters a feeling of protection, providing comfort to those who do decide to linger. At night, these lamp posts light up the sidewalk in a way that resembles the “Novel phosgene lamps” which Barth claims “illuminated the [department store’s] display at night and radiated their brilliant light onto the murkey street” (138).