In 2015, Mercedes-Benz Stadium partnered with Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to create a comprehensive art collection that will be featured throughout the two-million-square-foot stadium. Fifty-three artists were selected to contribute and over 100 works of art were commissioned, including two signature sculptures.
Two large-scale sculptures depicting a falcon in flight and a soccer ball are being created to honor the stadium's home teams, the National Football League's Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer's Atlanta United. Located on the exterior grounds of the stadium, the falcon and soccer ball are positioned for the public to enjoy within the larger downtown landscape and community spaces designed around the building.
The falcon, rising 41.5 feet tall with a wingspan of over 64 feet, will be the largest bird sculpture in the world. Constructed by Gábor Miklós Szőke of Budapest, the majestic stainless steel work, capturing the moment of a touchdown, will be erected on the main plaza facing the city skyline. The second piece, a mirror-faceted soccer ball standing almost 35 feet high, created by Studio Roso of London and will sit by the North entrance overlooking the green space being developed on the current site of the Georgia Dome.
Renderings of the outdoor sculptures are available at mercedesbenzstadium.com and scad.edu.
"This stadium is meant to reflect what our fans and supporters told us they want, and the art program is no exception," says Arthur M. Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. "We listened and responded by choosing artists who would bring those sensibilities to the pieces they create; the ideas of community, inspiration, play and excitement will resonate throughout the building."
"I am honored that these most respected institutions asked me to design and create such an important sculpture," says artist Gábor Miklós Szőke. "It's an incredible opportunity to work on such a ground-breaking piece with more than 100 people in my studio."
"Studio Roso is very excited to take part in The Art Collection at Mercedes-Benz Stadium," says Studio Roso artists Rolf Knudsen and Sophie Nielsen. "We want the monumental Soccer Ball sculpture to emotionally engage audiences and proudly represent Atlanta United."
To date, 53 artists, locally and internationally acclaimed, have been selected to create artwork for the stadium's interior public spaces and exterior plazas, including all concourses, club and suite spaces and corporate offices. Expertly curated by SCAD to enhance the fan and guest experience with energetic, inspiring and vibrant work, The Art Collection at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will explore themes including football, soccer, the history and culture of Georgia and the Atlanta community. The Collection will feature work across mediums, including sculpture, painting and drawing, photography, mixed media and digital art.
SCAD founder and president Paula Wallace states, "The art that SCAD proudly curated for the Atlanta Mercedes-Benz Stadium pays tribute to the City of Atlanta – a cosmopolitan nexus. We selected the finest international, Georgia, and SCAD artists for their ability to convey the zeal of the city's fans and the prowess of our players. The university is proud to unveil the conceptual plans for dual sculptures that anchor the entire stadium and salute our two home teams."
In an effort to engage Atlanta Falcons fans and Atlanta United supporters, the teams along with SCAD polled over 1,200 fans to identify themes, colors and aesthetics for The Art Collection. Additionally, 26 local artists—from Atlanta and surrounding cities—were selected to underscore the importance of community within the stadium and its standing in the heart of the city. In February 2016, through outreach to local art galleries, Atlanta media and the Georgia Council for the Arts, SCAD put out a call for local artists to submit portfolios. Over 650 submissions were reviewed, and select artists presented formal proposals for potential commissions.
SCAD was chosen to professionally commission, select and install original artwork and memorabilia for the new stadium. The university supports blue chip and emerging artists by placing their influential work in important and highly visible locations, including international art fairs and curated collections of high-end hotels, corporate offices, and private residences.