College of Architecture to Host BeltLine Symposium

Annual architecture symposium to discuss Atlanta's BeltLine

The College of Architecture will host its annual Dean's Symposium on the "Changing Nature of Practice" on Saturday, April 29. This year's symposium is a public discussion of the Atlanta BeltLine and the issues that surround it.

"Everyone here believes the Beltline is good for the city," said College of Architecture Associate Dean Doug Allen. "The goal of this year's symposium is to provide a forum for a structured public discussion aimed at developing a better understanding of the importance of the BeltLine for the future growth of Atlanta."

The BeltLine project is closely tied to Georgia Tech because it originates from College of Architecture alum Ryan Gravel's thesis. The BeltLine's concept is to transform abandoned rail tracks that surround the city of Atlanta into green space that connects parks throughout the city.

"It has been an incredible experience to see the BeltLine capture the imagination of so many people across the city of Atlanta," said Gravel, who plans on participating in the afternoon panel discussion that concludes the forum. "Not only is this project itself exciting, but the conversation that it has started about quality of life in the urban core of Atlanta is unprecedented. I am impressed with how many people just know intuitively that the BeltLine will be good for their community and with how hard they are willing to work to ensure that it happens."

The College of Architecture is exploring a number of projects that deal with the BeltLine. College of Architecture Professor David Green has had several student urban design studios that have looked at specific sections of the BeltLine and the issues that face the neighborhoods in those locations. Professor John Peponis has studied the elements discussed in Professor Green's studios and looked at how the scenarios impact the city and region as a whole. The Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development is currently doing a health assessment study on the BeltLine.

"The BeltLine is many things to many people," said Allen. "Within the academic context of the design studios, Georgia Tech has a unique ability to use the BeltLine as a kind of laboratory for our students, faculty, and research to test components of the BeltLine project. We hope that this can contribute to the forward progress of the BeltLine to the benefit of the City as a whole. We cannot plan or develop the Beltline ourselves, but we can and should be a conduit to ensure that the ideas and issues of all the constituents of the complex project are discussed in an open and constructive manner."

The morning session of the symposium will discuss the multiple views of the BeltLine project and urban regeneration. Speakers representing the developers, parks and recreation, transportation and neighborhood advocates will all take part in the discussion.

The early afternoon session will discuss Professor Green and Professor Peponis' work on the BeltLine. The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion among civic leaders, planners and architects, all of whom have a role in the planning and development of the BeltLine.

"My hope for the BeltLine is that it will truly create healthy, sustainable communities where people want to live and that it will accommodate thousands of anticipated new residents in the city of Atlanta and at the same time maintain a high quality-of-life for existing residents," said Gravel. "I hope the BeltLine changes the way we think about Atlanta so that the city can truly transform into a progressive, livable region."

This year's symposium is being co-sponsored by the College of Architecture and the College of Architecture's Alumni Committee.