As we wrote in our first post within this series titled “Atlanta, Where Urbanism and Sub-burbism Collide”, Atlanta is an elongated, suburban version of a dense US city making it different amongst cities like New York, Boston and DC. Atlanta is less dense in areas, making parts seem more suburban than urban. There is a lack of cohesive connection from one part of Atlanta to another. A great example of isolation is the Brookwood neighborhood, a wonderful, mostly residential neighborhood that separates mid-town from Buckhead. Brookwood boasts its own Ardmore Park and is filled with mostly single-family homes. You could exit from Brookwood on Collier Road and never see an urban, densely populated, city trait. Many og its residents still need a motor vehicle to access necessary resources like grocery stores, retail stores, hardware stores and even public transit. There are several examples similar to Brookwood within Atlanta. There is a lot of magic within these various areas, I see that city officials and planners are dedicated to figuring out how to both preserve the magic and also provide access to many by increasing connectivity of people.
Atlanta’s future will be defined by its ability to design how to connect people with people without hurting the magic which characterizes Atlanta.
As Atlanta continues to develop itself to becoming more urban, the breadcrumbs of potential connection points become clearer. The ever popular Beltline connects various areas, but does not yet provide a cohesive connection throughout Atlanta. There are four Beltline components, Northside Trail, Eastside Trail, Southwest Connector Spur Trail, and Westside + West End Trails. Eventually, it’s planned to have all four components connect to create a 22 miles of pedestrian friendly multi-use trails. Other symptoms of disconnected Atlanta is the independently branded and functioning transit systems and the division of major city destination points by highways, disjointed sidewalk ways and lack of pedestrian centric through ways.
Design can solve our connectivity problems to enable more urban functionality by:
putting its residents and visitors first,
creating more walkable and accessible areas,
enabling (zoning) and installing more everyday needs nearby,
creating architectural and design aspects that are welcoming and therefore activate spaces,
and assisting and promoting the necessary technology that some of the most efficient cities already enjoy; e.g. google fiber.
For urban connectivity to work we need to enable people to connect with people, design urban wayfinding that is safe, and we need to focus on high-quality architecture and design that welcomes and opens its front doors for the community to want to trek back onto urban paths now less traveled. By adding more welcoming vistas, plazas, and “front porches” to business entrances.
Architecture can shape negative behavior as well. Atlanta’s downtown architecture arguably enables crime to occur undetected by creating safe places for criminals to prey on victims; e.g. picture of public library example.
Another example is the ADAC building, nick-named “a women’s prison”. Prisons’ purpose is to confine, secure, rehabilitate or punish and are typically structures with few windows and entry/exit points. There are many architectural examples in Atlanta that actually disconnect people from its the interior from the exterior spaces. By installing more glass on the lower levels of buildings and by designing more creative and active outdoor spaces on these urban pathways, we can increase connectivity and breath new life into urban areas and neighborhoods.
Architecture can exploit elements like space, light, proportions, and materials can impact how we use the space, set our mood and emotion, which may impact whether or not we want to return to the space, and can solve wayfinding challenges and can even eliminate crime.