Fulton County Aviation and Community Cultural Center
The new Fulton County Aviation & Community Cultural Center provides much needed Education, Exhibit and Event space to historic communities west of Atlanta. Its Mission is to provide educational and career opportunities to adults and children in aviation, art and other fields through classes, permanent, and temporary exhibitions.
The Fulton County Aviation and Community Cultural Center design evolved through many collaborative and open-to-the-public community design charrettes, which resulted in the chosen parti, named “Building as Art”. The design goals were to incorporate historical symbols into sculptural form, and be “flexible, functional, and beautiful”. Due to its location adjacent to Fulton County Airport, aviation was the primary theme of the building. From above, the building resembles an airplane, waiting on the ground, ready for take-off! The colors of the building pay homage to the P-51 Mustang livery of the famous Tuskegee Airmen.
The building contains two “wings”, which span out from a modest sunlit atrium. One wing is primarily for flexible event space; the other contains classrooms for all subjects including media, art and dance. Central to the building are two galleries. One is for rotating exhibits; the other is a permanent gallery geared toward the history of aviation, particularly African-Americans in aviation. The galleries are connected by a research library.
Above the research library is a sculptural form which faces the community and is the major design element of the building. This element is known as the “Red Bolt”. The Red Bolt is symbolic and is divided into three sections.
- The lower part of the Red Bolt reflects the upward struggle of African-Americans prior to World War II, striving to play a larger role in in the field of aviation; as well as the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII, the famous African-American pilots who would fight from the air for America and its Allies in the war.
- The middle part of the Red Bolt, the horizontal part, represents The War itself. It was a time when the advancement of America, and the world, was “put on hold”.
- The upper section of the Red Bolt begins with the end of the war, and rises above the roof, representing the role of African-Americans in commercial aviation and space flight. The tapering of this upper portion of the Red Bolt represents the endless possibilities in aviation that exist ahead, as well as the famous red tails of the P-51’s used by the Tuskegee Airmen.
Underneath and sheltered by the Red Bolt, and lit throughout the night, is the research library. This serves as a place of learning, reflection, and discussion. It serves to teach Aviation, but also art and history. Nestled between the two galleries, the library will help cultivate the talent and knowledge that will fill the Aviation and Art galleries in the future.
Throughout the building, custom artwork (by Atlanta artist Michael Reese) further contributes to the aviation theme of the facility and pays tribute to the local neighborhoods, residents, and war-time aviation heroes. The Fulton County Aviation and Community Cultural Center will serve as a new community-based focal point and icon for years to come. Day and night, it will provide a point of illumination along an otherwise dark industrial corridor, and will be a positive force in the future redevelopment of this community.