The Atlanta History Center has unveiled a table unlike any other in their front garden that borders West Paces Ferry Road. There under the shade of a canopy of trees, sits a massive 60’ long table in the shape of a fallen tree. Consisting of 36 slabs of 3-inch thick wood, the parts all came from a white oak that had sprouted on the grounds of what is now the Atlanta History Center back in the 1880s.
The innovative design was conceptualized by Sarah Roberts, the Vice President of Goizueta Gardens and Living Collections at the Atlanta History Center. She had noticed that the 140+ year-old tree was on the decline and instead of simply removing it from the property she wanted to honor and preserve it in a permanent way. Roberts contacted local Buckhead woodworker Kirk McAlpin and enlisted him to transform the wood into a gathering place for those who visit the center in the form of a huge table.
A local tree service took down the tree, the wood was then milled into 8- to 10-foot sections and stacked in an unused parking spot of the Center’s garage for two years to dry out.
“From the first conversations I thought it was a little crazy, but felt 100% determined that we would figure out how to do it,” said McAlpin, the woodworker who spent more than 1000 hours over seven months planning, designing, and installing the table which was completed in collaboration with the Atlanta History Center staff and metalworkers. McAlpin attributes his connection to this project as serendipity. His wife knew Sarah Roberts from the non-profit sector of the public gardens world, and when Roberts approached McAlpin with a drawing he knew immediately that he wanted to tackle this project.
“I said ‘yes, I’m your guy!’” McAlpin explained. “I felt like I had been training for this by doing lots of live-edge slab tables. The project was extremely ambitious and I felt very confident that I could do it, and wouldn’t have taken it on otherwise.” Fortunately he had just completed a project creating outdoor benches for Olmsted Linear Parks which required a two-part finish used in boat building that is very durable and waterproof, so he was able to bring that knowledge to the construction of this project and ensure that it will withstand the elements.
McAlpin understood the importance of this project and knew there was very little room for error in the design, so he set about his planning process very carefully. With over 150 pages of notes, he was able to make the table durable, beautiful, and representative of Roberts’ grand idea.
“I love going to the Atlanta History Center,” said McAlpin. “I spent 7 months there, I made friends and got lots of help lugging around these huge pieces of wood from the Goizueta Garden staff. It’s a little nerve-wracking but amazing to see the Tree Table out in its new home being used by people.” Knowing that it would be used and enjoyed by so many people was a huge motivation for McAlpin during the long process of bringing the one-of-a-kind table to life.
On any given day you will see a number of people and their pets enjoying the table, many enjoying a coffee from Brash or a lunch from Souper Jenny (both are just a few steps away). The table is sanitized regularly to ensure cleanliness. During COVID times this outdoor gathering place has been a welcome respite from the confines of work from home and quarantines. Due to the unique design that sprawls outward from the central trunk many people can use it at once without being too close together.
The Tree Table seems destined to be a cherished gathering spot for many years to come and is a prime example of the Atlanta History Center’s ongoing commitment to finding ingenious ways of preserving our city’s history. Even when development and construction is booming all around us the Center reminds us that it’s possible to find creative ways to honor our past.
Prominently perched atop a hill overlooking the West Paces neighborhood of Buckhead is a complex of buildings that appear to be straight out of the streets of Paris. This is Corso Atlanta, a new luxury senior living facility designed to maintain residents’ dignity and lifestyle while also accommodating the increased needs of elder care. “Home should be a place where you can find peace, joy, and pride-in regardless of age or ability,” explained Emily Hamrin, Marketing Director of Galerie Living. “Each member of our community is expected to honor and respect the independence, needs, and value of one another. We are called to communicate openly, listen attentively, and care compassionately.”
CEO and Founder of Galerie Living Tim Gary envisioned Corso as an opportunity to “bring a block of Paris to Buckhead.” Galerie Living’s in-house designer Steven Markey grew up in Europe and was familiar with design aesthetics, but also traveled personally to Paris for inspiration on the project.
“What makes Corso beautiful and different is the authenticity of it; trying to make it real without making it Disneyland,” said Markey.
The facility is unique in a number of ways thanks to the European aesthetics, luxurious finishings, and the quality of amenities. Prospective residents can choose from more than 45 floor plans that can be customized with certain care and services. The residences offer full kitchens, accessible bathrooms, bedrooms, and living rooms. Many feature incredible views overlooking the surrounding neighborhood and skyline.
Corso’s signature “city homes” are located on the ground level and offer private front doors and patios that open to Corso’s courtyards. Having one’s own front door helps residents retain a sense of normalcy amid changing circumstances, and overlooking the courtyards provides opportunities for people-watching and building community with neighbors.
“The front door to your home represents safety, dignity, and warmth,” said COO Kari Samuelson. “City homes are intentionally designed to maintain the lifestyle you’ve always enjoyed while easily adapting to care needs. You don’t have to close the door to life’s joys just because care needs have arrived.”
The facility also employs a ‘no-move’ model which allows residents to remain in their independent living residences while receiving increased levels of care. In this way residents can feel truly at home, get to know their neighbors, and feel a sense of ownership and belonging at Corso. Their leasing model includes no large buy-ins or invasive financial assessments enabling residents to maintain continued control over their finances.
Corso Atlanta will feature a fully-fledged spa, salon, fitness center, heated pool, florist, formal dining room, wine and cheese tasting room, bistro, theater, tea house, rooftop bar, ice cream parlor, and plenty of covered patio space.
During an exclusive hard hat tour for Buckhead.com, the staff of Corso explained that the inclusion of lots of covered and uncovered outdoor spaces tucked safely within the bounds of the Corso campus is of utmost importance in the design and will enable residents to feel that they are part of a community. Incredible architectural elements like soaring ceilings, delicately arched windows and doorways, and idyllic landscaping all add to the feeling of luxury and comfort. Maintenance, concierge services, black car transportation, and 24/7 security are all included as well.
Dignity is a word that comes up a lot in talking with the staff of Corso. It’s something that often gets sacrificed when moving into traditional elder care facilities, and retaining dignity for residents is a big part of the model of success at Corso Atlanta. Just because an individual needs a higher level of care or desires less responsibility than owning their own home doesn’t mean they deserve to feel depersonalized by their new circumstances. Corso aims to provide an elevated senior living experience conveniently located in one of Buckhead’s most beloved neighborhoods, where residents can feel truly at home while resting easy in the knowledge that on-call nurses and staff will take care of them regardless of the level of their needs.
Corso Atlanta is expected to open in late Spring 2021 and is now leasing for city homes, independent living, assisted living, and memory care homes. Rates start at $7000 per month which includes access to all club amenities, social events and experiences, housekeeping and maintenance, custom dining package, and concierge services. To learn more, visit the Corso Atlanta website.