Rediscover Centennial Olympic Park: A guided tour of Quilt Plazas and Water Gardens

Jun. 28, 2019

Let’s take a walk. We are going to explore an area of Centennial Olympic Park’s most distinctive features, the Quilt Plazas and Water Gardens. Located along the east border of the Park, the five 60-feet-by-60-feet plazas tell the impressive story of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Games. A cascading series of beautifully landscaped water features weave together the quilts. Boulders and rocks from area riverbeds and a meandering walkway accent this oasis.

Fun fact: approximately 131,000 gallons of water circulates within the formal and informal pools that combine to create the flowing gardens. Listening to the sounds of the water, we will wander through the Quilt Plazas.

First, let’s begin our walk with a bit of background information.

The “Look of the Games” is a design undertaken by every Olympic host city’s organizing committee to create a visual identity for the Olympic Games. The “Look” appears on all banners, decorations and signage used during the 17-day international gathering. The “Look” chosen for the 1996 Olympic Games is a system of graphics symbolizing Atlanta’s character and natural beauty, the ancient traditions of the Olympic Games and the cultural heritage of the American South. Called “A Quilt of Leaves,” the design is symbolic of:

The Quilt Pattern

  • Formed by Olympic teams as they gathered on the field of the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony.
  • Created from the Southern tradition of quilt making. An American art form that has its origins in many different parts of the world, quilts also express unity and diversity. They are rich with memories, carrying history of what was into present day.


Centennial Olympic Park’s leaf motif.
  • Expressed by Atlanta’s many trees – metropolitan Atlanta was the most heavily-forested urban area in the country at the time of the Olympic Games, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
  • Reflecting the ancient tradition of a laurel wreath for a victorious athlete and an olive branch symbolizing peace.

The first quilt in the gardens we’ll discover is the Quilt of Dreams.

The Quilt of Dreams plaza at Centennial Olympic Park.

The Quilt of Dreams celebrates Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) CEO Billy Payne’s original dream and 10-year quest to bring the Centennial Olympic Games to Atlanta.

The second quilt we’ll investigate is the Quilt of Remembrance.

Quilt of Remembrance plaza at Centennial Olympic Park.

The Quilt of Remembrance features a mosaic of stones from around the world to honor the 111 people injured by the 1996 Olympic Park bombing. An eternal light shines in this plaza in memory of Alice Hawthorne, who perished.  

The third quilt we’ll study is the Quilt of Origins.

The Quilt of Origins at Centennial Olympic Park.

The Quilt of Origins captures the enduring essence of the Olympic Games with a sculpture that symbolically honors the progression of athletes from the original Greek Olympians to modern-day competitors.

The fourth quilt we’ll survey is the Quilt of Olympic Spirit.

The Quilt of Olympic Spirit salutes the 10,000 athletes that participated in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

The fifth quilt we’ll view is the Quilt of Nations.

The Quilt of Nations pergola at Centennial Olympic Park.

The Quilt of Nations honors the 197 nations that participated in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. This is the largest number of countries ever represented in the history of the Olympic Games.

With recent renovations complete, we invite you to rediscover Centennial Olympic Park (and tag your social media posts with #RediscoverCOP) this summer. You will be stitching together memories that weave the story of your own legacy.

Posted by
Jennifer Tinker   Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator
on Jun. 28, 2019
An Authority veteran since 2002, Jennifer has been leading volunteers at Centennial Olympic Park and, more recently, the Georgia World Congress Center. Her favorite customer service mantra is: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

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