Jonathan Hillyer

In Richard Meier, FAIA's speech accepting the 1984 Pritzker Architecture Prize, he described talking with his children about their favorite colors. He said, "I have to explain that for me, white is the most wonderful color because within it you can see all the colors of the rainbow. For me, in fact, it is the color which in natural light, reflects and intensifies the perception of all of the shades of the rainbow, the colors which are constantly changing in nature, for the whiteness of white is never just white; it is almost always transformed by light and that which is changing; the sky, the clouds, the sun and the moon."

While Meier was describing the color's tendency to reflect the world upon itself, white also contrasts with the world, making blue sky seem bluer and green grass seem greener. If this contrast wasn't already clear in the Meier-designed High Museum of Art in Atlanta, it is now. A new installation on the plaza features neon-colored spinning benches that pop against the white of the museum, as well as the addition by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The benches are constructed with vibrant nylon rope. When I visited the "Los Trompos" (which means spinning tops) installation last weekend, visitors were lolling about and taking selfies, while little kids tugged on the edges of the benches to get them to spin. Taken together, the twirling colored tops reminded me of the Disneyland teacup ride.

The museum's website says that there are more than 30 of these benches dotting the Carroll Slater Sifly Piazza, and they are also sprinkled around the Woodruff Arts Center campus and the larger Midtown neighborhood.

This isn't the first time that the museum has "activated"—adding something to a space so people use it—the plaza. The same artists behind this installation, museum designers-in-residence Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena, devised three dozen red house frames strung with hammocks and swings in last year's "Mi Casa, Your Casa."

"Los Trompos" will be on display through Nov. 29 at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Jonathan Hillyer
Jonathan Hillyer
Jonathan Hillyer
Jonathan Hillyer