The greening of Ted Turner Drive, a 1.4 mile roadway that cuts through Downtown Atlanta, is an opportunity to rethink the function and benefits of a transportation corridor into a gateway to downtown that will create bikeway infrastructure, allow for a better walking experience, absorb rainwater, mitigate heat, and beautify the public space.
Included in the City of Atlanta’s recently released Urban Resilience Strategy is a focus on five key areas: water, energy, sustainability, social cohesion, and mobility. Rebuild worked with the City and Central Atlanta Progress to develop a student design competition, informed by community and stakeholder input, to solicit ideas for high impact interventions for this stretch of Ted Turner Drive.
Adhering to Rebuild’s model of collaborative research and design, the competition kicked off with a day-long event on January 27, 2018 where students learned about the history of the drive and the city, the Atlanta Resilience Strategy as well as innovations in transportation, watershed management and city design from various Atlanta-based experts and the City’s Office of Resilience. During the research phase, students investigated the corridor, did resilience analysis and developed methods for generating public feedback on the corridor. After spring break, teams entered the design phase and tested their initial design ideas with residents and stakeholders during a community engagement event at Atlanta’s Center for Civic Innovation. This feedback was utilized to shape the final design final presentations that were presented to jury made up of a local experts including a City Councilmember, City staff and representatives from local organizations.
On May 7th, 2018 the Atlanta Resilience Office and Council member Amir Farokhi awarded the winners and finalists. The University of Georgia’s team won the design challenge for their work on the Spark Plan, which emphasized increasing the cultural, ecological, and economic benefits of Ted Turner Drive.
The winning plan focuses on enhancing the pedestrian experience through green infrastructure and ecological enhancements that address heat and excess water, while also creating larger sidewalks and multi-use spaces that can be sectioned off from traffic and utilized for large events. The city will begin implementing this proposal in the fall of 2018 using monies raised from Atlanta’s transportation bond.