Notable News

  • Education Drive

    The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, which promotes good environmental practices at colleges and universities, recently issued its annual STARS report. The STARS report — for Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System — recognizes schools for their sustainability performance, awarding Bronze, Silver, or Gold ratings to institutions based on four categories: academics, engagement, operations, and planning and administration. A total of eight schools have been awarded both a Gold STAR rating and a spot on the Sierra Club's top 10. 

    Georgia Institute of Technology uses alternative fuels in 150 of its 500 vehicles, and with its construction and demolition projects, it focuses on diverting waste, along with other sustainable practices. Among those practices are stormwater runoff reduction efforts that include using ground surfaces that allow water to pass through, removing paved parking lots, campus reforestation, and installing cisterns. The institution is No. 10 on the Sierra Club list.

  • Saporta Report

    Georgia Tech’s Master of City and Regional Planning is building its national stature. Planetizen, an online publication that caters to urban and regional planning professionals  has just released its top schools for urban planners. Georgia Tech has climbed from No. 8 to No. 5 in the country since the last edition was published

    The four schools that have a higher rank than Georgia Tech are: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1); University of California – Berkeley; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and University of California, Los Angeles. Rounding out the Top 10 are: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (6); Cornell University (7); University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (8); University of Southern California (9); and Harvard University (10).

    “The Planetizen Guide is a widely-used, rich source of information about graduate planning programs in the United States,” said Bruce Stiftel, chair of the School of City and Regional Planning, in a story written on its website. “Identification as a top five program by Planetizen in their performance indicator-based ranking is a welcome recognition of Georgia Tech’s innovative and professionally-engaged planning education.”

  • GT News Center

    The University System of Georgia (USG) recently named finalists for the Chancellor’s Annual Service Excellence Awards, and Georgia Tech boasts several finalists. The awards are meant to recognize and reward employees for high levels of performance, highlight service projects and process improvements, and honor commitment to customer service excellence. Among the finalists is the Westside Community Alliance Executive Leadership Team, a group was formed in 2011 with the vision of developing a partnership between Atlanta’s institutions of higher education and surrounding neighborhoods.

  • Forbes

    There are approximately 1,030 enclosed malls in the United States today according to a recent report by Green Street Advisors, a real estate research firm. They estimate that 15 percent of mall stock will close or be repurposed within the next ten years, with the greatest risk among low-end venues.  It is unsurprising that malls would fail if the surrounding market can no longer support them, according to Ellen Dunham-Jones, professor of architecture and urban design at Georgia Tech. Rising population in urban areas have increased the popularity of mixed-used real estate developments that combine residential housing, retailers, and businesses into a single, easy-to-navigate edifice.  Dunham-Jones says that despite the negative press, mega malls aren’t doomed and goes on to identify several examples of success stories in a mall-challenged country, including Dadeland Mall, outside of Miami in Kendall, Florida. To succeed, malls must provide a combination of shopping, dining, and entertainment experiences that consumers can’t get elsewhere.

  • Atlanta Business Chronicle

    Professor Michael Dobbins, once the city’s commissioner of planning and community development, has called Northside a very important corridor that has been “treated like an orphan.” Now, Westplan Investors is seeking a permit from the city of Atlanta to begin initial site work on a new apartment complex at 1390 Northside Drive. The property is bordered by one of the Waterworks reservoirs. Westplan would call the project Aspire Waterworks, according to the city of Atlanta. It could include as many as 160 units, say commercial real estate executives familiar with the project. For years, the West Side neighborhoods have seen an infusion of new housing, restaurants and shops led by developers such as Jamestown, among others. But areas along Northside still have many commercial properties in various states of decline.

  • Saporta Report

    The final piece is in place of a framework plan by Georgia Tech students that could guide development along the frontier of an historic Atlanta industrial corridor. The latest plan provides a method to link the shops, homes, parks and places of worship of West End with the Atlanta University Center – the nation’s largest concentration of historically black colleges and universities. This plan is the third of three that address the Northside Drive corridor from I-75, at the southern tip of Buckhead, to West End, just south of I-20. The latest plan has recently be delivered to Atlanta city officials and could, like its predecessors, find its place in the discussion about revitalizing a major north-south corridor through the city. All the studies have been conducted by Tech students under the guidance of Mike Dobbins, a Tech professor of practice and former Atlanta planning commissioner. The latest plan approaches the West End/AUC area much like Tech and Midtown, with the goal of weaving together the campus and neighborhood in hopes that both will benefit from the connection. In addition, the plan strongly recommends rerouting Northside Drive to adjacent roads in order to reduce confusion created by a web of roads near the vortex of Northside Drive and I-20.

  • AJC

    Foreclosure notices this year are the lowest they have been since 2002. This month’s foreclosure numbers are 30 percent lower than during September last year and 65 percent lower than September of 2012. But while the housing market is better, not every neighborhood shares equally in the good news, said Dan Immergluck, professor of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech. “In certain ZIP codes on the south side of the city there are not many sales,” Immergluck said. “This is a very uneven recovery.” The past several years have seen many foreclosures of property bought by small-time investors looking for a big payoff. But if the house is in a depressed area, they can’t cash out – and their pockets may not be deep enough to keep making payments. “You’ll sell properties that go through foreclosure a couple of times,” said Immergluck. “That is going to take a long time to wash out of the system.”

  • NPR

    Only about one third of American malls are doing well, and the dead and dying ones are leaving behind huge concrete carcasses, says Steve Inskeep of NPR. Development efforts vary, but these failed malls are becoming new office spaces, medical centers, churches, schools and universities, civic functions, and walk-able, mixed-use developments. “One example is Belmar - it's in Lakewood, Colorado, just outside of Denver - and it used to be the Villa Italia Mall, a very large, regional mall on a 100 acre just single superblock site. Today it's 22 blocks of walk-able, urban streets that connect up with the neighboring streets,” says professor Dunham-Jones. “It's often referred to as new urbanism. Is the sort of the movement that has been driving a lot of this because it makes so much sense from an economic point of view, certainly from a sort of sustainability and environment point of view, from a social sort of building more opportunities for people to get together.”

  • GBD Magazine

    Initially envisioned in 1999 as a transit solution for the notoriously auto-centric Atlanta, the BeltLine vision has kept growing ever since. City and Regional Planning student Ryan ravel (MCRP ’99) wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “Belt Line–Atlanta: Design of Infrastructure as a Reflection of Public Policy.” Gravel challenged the city’s reliance on the automobile and proposed to upend that norm by creating light-rail stations along historic freight lines to connect with bus routes and MARTA. Today, the sheer scope of the project is probably best comprehended in numbers: It includes four abandoned rail beds transformed into 22 miles of streetcar transit and bike and pedestrian paths. This greenway circles the urban core and connects 45 historic neighborhoods and more than 20 parks. To do it, 1,000 acres of brownfields will be remediated, and 3,000 acres of impervious surfaces will be broken up and given back to native plants. The result is more than 1,300 acres of green space, increasing the city’s parkland by 40 percent.

  • Saporta Report

    Memorial Drive was buzzing a decade ago as homebuyers picked up units located close to Downtown Atlanta and Midtown, but at prices that reflected the street’s gritty urban texture. These days, humming may be a better word to describe the pace of development. Another difference? Now there’s a bona fide effort to plan for the future of the corridor along a 5.5-mile stretch from I-75/85 to Candler Road. A group of Georgia Tech graduate students, working under the guidance of professor Mike Dobbins, are devising a framework plan for the Memorial Drive corridor. A handful of Tech students presented results of their first three weeks of work at a meeting late Monday afternoon at Drew Charter School’s Senior Academy. The finished product is due by the end of the year. Their plan would create a unified vision for an urban corridor that transitions from an industrial nature closer to the state Capitol to houses and mom-and-pop shops as the road makes a straight line toward Decatur and Stone Mountain.

  • Planetizen

    “This month, over 55,000,000 K-12 students across the nation return to school, and less than 16 percent of them will walk or bike to get there each day (National Center for Education Reform Statistics 2013; US EPA 2003),” prof. Nisha Botchwey writes in her recent piece for Planetizen. She elaborates on the importance of schools for planning, noting their interaction with other planning-related considerations include physical activity, community development and engagement, food consumption, land use, and the environment. In particular, she believes Green Health practice needs to be promoted, as outlined in the summer issue of JPER which is a compilation of conversations and research on this topic. The Green Health Symposium presents a number of policies, strategies, and recommendations to help guide these issues. “Green Health opens up new ways of strategically assessing the current state of schools and their surrounding communities,” writes Botchwey. “This toolkit is a very valuable resource for planners.”

  • GT Alumni Magazine

    A net-zero building is not only specially engineered to maximize energy savings, but also generates its own renewable energy—through methods such as solar panels—to cancel out the consumption of electricity and gas.  “It’s very easy to be energy efficient these days,” says Michael Gamble, M Arch '91, associate professor of architecture at Tech. “However, I would say there’s sort of an 80/20 rule. It’s the 80 percent effort to achieve energy efficiency that’s pretty easy and inexpensive. The last 20 percent of working toward net-zero energy consumption—or even positive energy generation—is where it gets much more challenging.” Gamble is working with fellow Tech professors Godfried Augenbroe, Daniel Castro, Russell Gentry, Jason Brown and recent alumnus Stephen Taul, M Arch '12, MCRP '12, to lead a group of graduate architecture students on a three-year project to design, build and eventually occupy a net-zero energy apartment building near campus. Gamble says Tech students certainly aren’t the only ones attempting to create net-zero energy buildings today. But what makes this project unique is that they are tailoring their designs specifically to the challenges of modern, urban life in Atlanta.

  • Planetizen

    An August 19 article in the Washington Post by Lydia DePillis took a tough stance on the value of families to urban setting, presenting the argument that planning family-friendly cities is not worth the effort because of their ultimate cost. Bradley Calvert, MCRP alumnus of Georgia Tech, disagrees with this notion and responds to the Post article in his recent piece for Planetizen. “DePillis relies on out of touch perceptions of urban families and fails to recognize that many of their demands for services and amenities parallels that of young professionals and empty nesters,” Calvert writes. “Most importantly, she considers the inflated costs of these services as a byproduct of families and not one created from the inefficient distribution and managing of resources and services by cities.”

  • Saporta Report

    Gondolas are a type of cable-propelled transit (CPT), typically with enclosed cabins that will detach from the cable that pulls them to slow down for onboarding and alighting purposes as they pass through a station. The city of Medellin, Colombia, named the Most Innovative City in the World in 2013 by the Urban Land Institute, has been greatly transformed in part because of its MetroCable system that employs gondolas as a means of public transit. Queen, MCRP + MS/CE ’15, believes that Atlanta could be greatly aided by the low cost, quick build time, small footprint, minimal noise, consistent speeds, short wait times, impressive safety record, high reliability, and stunning views that gondolas offer. “With our limited funding, high congestion, and physical barriers (railroads, highways, rivers, hilly terrain, etc.), gondolas seem like a potentially ideal fit for serving many of Atlanta’s urban areas,” Queen writes. “Given limited funding, we need to get creative with more affordable modes and greater investment from the private sector; but this will require open-minded, visionary leadership. Gondolas could be one part of the solution, but without a willingness to innovate, we won’t know until it is too late.”

  • YNPN Atlanta

    YNPN Atlanta and Georgia Center for Nonprofts (GCN) accepted nominations from across Georgia to recognize to recognize 30 young nonprofit professionals who are making a powerful impact in their organizations by exhibiting outstanding leadership, innovation, and commitment in their community work. Johanna McCrehan, MCRP '12, works as an urban designer for the Georgia Conservancy within the smart growth program. She will be recognized, along with 29 others, at a September event at MailChimp headquarters, part of GCN’s week of Nonprofit Field Trips, where she will meet with a panel of young nonprofit CEOs and alumni of the 30 Under 30 Awards program. She will also receive recognition at the YNPN Atlanta NextGen Breakfast in October at The Commerce Club, where she and the others will have in-depth conversations with some of Atlanta’s top nonprofit professionals. To learn more about Johanna, read her bio on the Georgia Conservancy website.

  • Green Buzz

    Becoming a tradition in itself, Georgia Tech has once again earned accolades for its efforts in sustainability. The Princeton Review named Tech to its seventh annual Green Honor Roll for the year 2015. Tech was one of 24 colleges and universities receiving the highest possible score of 99. More than 800 schools were evaluated for the annual listing. Tech has made the Green Honor Roll since the Princeton Review began tracking its Green Ratings. Georgia Tech has also earned a place in the Sierra Club’s Top 10 Cool Schools list, which spotlights universities placing an emphasis on environmental responsibility. This is the third year Tech has been included on the list, this year at No. 10.

  • National Journal

    Atlanta’s home prices are up 14 percent over the past year, according to Standard & Poor’s Case Shiller Indices. But behind that topline figure are Atlanta area communities such as Dunwoody, which has largely recovered from the housing crisis, and Riverdale, which is still struggling, with no end in sight. Only 12.3 percent of homes in Dunwoody's 30338 ZIP code are valued lower than the outstanding mortgage balance. In Riverdale, 76 percent of the homes are underwater. "[The increase] is due primarily to a dual housing market, with more affluent communities within the region seeing a strong rebound, but with moderate-income areas seeing continued weak activity and low values," says professor Dan Immergluck. "It is really a tale of two markets."

  • Saporta Report

    Cary Bearn, a current MCRP graduate student, believes that MARTA could benefit greatly from adopting a mascot. “MARTA has the opportunity to further enthuse the Atlanta region by crowdsourcing this silliness.  Getting folks involved in designing a mascot and simultaneously gets people involved in MARTA,” she writes. She compares MARTA’s continued clash of supporters and naysayers to conflicting feelings different groups have for major sports teams, and notes that a MARTA mascot could serve as the basis for a graphic campaign that would garner support for the Atlanta transit system. “We all know MARTA needs its fans,” Bearn writes. “It is high time that the mascot extend beyond the world of schools and sports and into the realm of transit. Transit has long needed a mascot and MARTA, given the frustration so many users and non-users feel with the service, is the perfect institution to usher in such a being.  Bring on the silliness.”

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Developers in Atlanta are spending millions of dollars to buy up dozens of acres near MARTA stations around the city. It marks a shift in Atlanta development as companies look to save money and attract key workers by building offices and homes near transportation hubs. Many young workers prefer to live in more urban areas, are more likely to eschew cars and demand public transit and walkable communities. Major corporations seeking top talent have taken note. MARTA hopes to launch five transit-oriented developments over the next two years on underused parking lots beside MARTA stations. Amanda Rhein (MCRP ‘04), senior director of transit-orientated development for MARTA, says the idea is to transform the neighborhoods around the five stations into walkable villages and, in doing so, increase MARTA ridership. Rhein said developers have shown great interest.

  • Fox 5

    This summer, an international panel awarded the Atlanta Beltline the grand prize for "Best Rehabilitation Project" across the globe. Back in 1999, while at Georgia Tech, Urban Designer Ryan Gravel had the idea to turn Atlanta's abandoned rail system, into something useful again. The pathway that circles the city will eventually span over 22 miles and connect 45 in town neighborhoods. Streetcars will eventually connect with Marta as well to provide public transit. Paul Morris, the President and CEO of the Atlanta Beltline predicts that in 2014 the trail will exceed over 1 million users.

  • NPR Atlanta WABE

    More and more Americans are leaving the suburbs behind in favor of urban spaces.  Though originally structured for use by families, since 2000 two-thirds of suburban households are those without children, Prof. Ellen Dunham-Jones states in her discussion on the need to retrofit the dying suburbs. Communities around the Unites States are developing innovative ways of retrofitting their aging suburban structures to breathe new life into abandoned and now unused areas outside of cities. “Here in Atlanta, we have a former IBM corporate office building that has become the North Atlanta High School,” Jones gives as a local example. “Developers began to look at some of these very inexpensive, because they were abandoned or aging properties, as the new cheap land, instead of only looking at the undeveloped greenfield.”

  • Saporta Report

    The low floors, ample seating, and frequent service of the Washington, D.C. Circulators that supplement the city’s main transit system could be implemented by MARTA in certain midtown neighborhoods.  Thomas Hamed, a current graduate student in the School of City and Regional Planning, thinks that the relatively short headways and smaller number of routes could mean certain groups of riders like tourists would be more attracted to them. This could lead to land use supporting more density, says Hamed, such as certain blocks seeing more retail once more potential customers show up. Hamed mentions Midtown, Decatur, and Downtown as potential areas for Circulator use. “MARTA may have to commit for several years before it sees results,” says Hamed. “After all, inducing demand and making place does take time. But with right branding and with cooperation from the neighborhoods, these new bus routes could help to spur density, and make the neighborhoods served a place to be at all hours of the day.”

  • Modern Smart City Magazine

    NOTE: Original article only available in Chinese. The English summary is below.

    Contemporary cities have become "the second nature," professor Perry Yang states in a recent interview where he discussed the need for ecological thinking in planning modern cities. Ecological thinking is urgently needed in planning to set the ecological systems as a framework to guide urban planning practices. The new methods include both “science for design”, an integration of water, energy and material flows, human movement and information in urban systems; and “design in science”, to see city-building as an ecological intervention to nurture new relationships between city and nature. By 2040, Perry argued that the new round of urbanization process in China would push new development to farer away remote areas, where development confronts natural systems. In response to the “zero land expansion” policy in Shanghai, an ecological approach is needed to shape high-density urban living by regenerating existing urban areas to avoid further depletion of surrounding land resources. It’s possible to develop an ecological urban design method by reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy performance while increasing density to a certain degree. The interview closes with a discussion on ecological smart cities that requires a human-centered responsive urban environment in a new urban era that is both physical and virtual. A future eco city will be supported by an augmented environment and bottom-up processes.

  • Saporta Report

    “I love using MARTA rail, it gets me to Midtown with relative ease and is very reliable in meeting my schedule demands; however, on the occasion I have to spend more than a few minutes in a station waiting for the next train, those minutes would not be so memorable if I had more to look at that endless amounts of grey concrete,” says Marcus Ashdown as he laments the consistent use of grey in MARTA station construction. He believes that MARTA riders’ comfort levels would be improved if they did not have to wait in a “grey concrete box.” Ashdown writes about a variety of different simple solutions to aid in the visual appeal of existing stations, including the use of plants. “The greatest contrast to all this grey would be landscaping. Living (or even fake) greenery brings instant life to even the greyest of places, MARTA stations included.” He also recommends using a different rock, or paint, to brighten riders’ MARTA station views.

  • Atlanta Business Chronicle

    The Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Arts will get $100,000 to advance the design of a new performing arts stage, developed by Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Beltline. The Reynoldstown stage project seeks to create a permanent stage, landscaped exhibit space and elevated park connection with stunning city views, says the BeltLine. The grant is part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town program, which is awarding more than $5 million to projects in 38 states.

  • The Examiner

    The Bike Friendly University program, run by the League of American Bicyclists, recognizes colleges and universities that promote and provide more bikeable campus environments for students, staff, and visitors. Each campus is evaluated in 5 areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement, and evaluation/planning – otherwise known as the 5 E’s. Colleges request evaluation by submitting applications for consideration by the League. In addition, input is sought from volunteer local reviewers, who are consulted to share “on the ground” perspectives on the biking landscape. In the most recently released ranking by the League, Georgia Tech received a “Silver” level designation.

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta have significantly decreased over the last year. There were 2,430 foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta in July, according to the monthly report by Equity Depot. That is up from 2,054 in June and 2,104 in May, but far below the 5,200 reported in July of a year ago. While positive, this year's sharp decline may paint a picture that is slightly rosier than reality, said city and Regional planning professor Dan Immergluck. Many --- perhaps one-third or more of those who hold mortgages --- are "underwater" because their homes would fetch less than what they still owe on their mortgages. They may be able to make mortgage payments, but they remain vulnerable. The stress is not spread evenly, because home values vary wildly by neighborhood, he said. "School quality has always been important in Atlanta, but it is even more important right now," Immergluck said. "So we have lots of neighborhoods where 30 or 40 percent of the homeowners are underwater and we have lots of neighborhoods where essentially nobody is."

  • Scientific American

    Dense metropolises of concrete, glass and asphalt are poised to warm faster than their surroundings as the planet heats up. The higher temperatures mean more severe heat waves, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are already the deadliest weather phenomenon in the United States. However, there are tricks cities can use to cool off, and recent research at Georgia Tech shows these tactics can save lives, even as the climate changes. "No studies had looked at how cities could mitigate those impacts through what we would call 'climate responsive design,'" said Brian Stone Jr., associate professor of city and regional planning and lead author of the report. "The major emphasis here is that cities should be undertaking heat management planning," he said. "There are steps they can take to actually slow the rate at which they're warming."

  • The Courier-Journal

    Five relatively small areas, covering less than one half of 1 percent of the city's surface area, are contributing an oversized share to Louisville's extra urban heat, according to new research. General Electric's Appliance Park leads Louisville's first list of surface temperature "hot spots," identified by the Urban Climate Lab at Georgia Institute of Technology as part of an urban heat study and mitigation plan under development this year. "The heat generated by these hot spots undoubtedly raises air temperatures in the region and contributes to air quality issues as well," said Brian Stone Jr., the climate lab director and a Georgia Tech associate professor of city and regional planning. "These initial results are intended to foster dialogue about the types of strategies the region should be considering."

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Heat-related deaths are likely to soar over the next 40 years due to climate warming, but new research has found that increase could be cut by more than half — and virtually eliminated in Atlanta — if major cities across the nation embraced a greener footprint. The Tech report notes that the number of heat-related deaths in U.S. cities is projected to more than double by 2050 — but can also be reduced if cities plant more trees and add green space, decrease impervious surface areas such as parking lots, and use more reflective materials on roads and rooftops. Tech planning professor Brian Stone Jr. found in the study those measures would reduce any increase in heat-related deaths by nearly 60 percent and effectively prevent an increase in Atlanta. The four-year study out of Georgia Tech is the first major national assessment of major city residents’ health, the impact of rising temperatures and what city officials could do to alleviate a growing crisis.

  • Atlanta Journal Constitution

    Heat-related deaths are likely to soar over the next 40 years due to climate warming, but new research has found that increase could be cut by more than half — and virtually eliminated in Atlanta — if major cities across the nation embraced a greener footprint. The four-year study out of Georgia Tech is the first major national assessment of major city residents’ health, the impact of rising temperatures and what city officials could do to alleviate a growing crisis. Heat already kills more people in the United States than hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And science shows most major cities, including Atlanta, are already warming at two times the rate of the planet.

  • Atlanta Business Chronicle

    Atlanta ranked No. 5 on the list of 30 “green cities,” with 54 percent of its commercial space — such as office towers, hotels, and shopping centers — certified as sustainable, according to the Green Building Adoption Index, a project led by Maastricht University of the Netherlands, along with the U.S. Green Building Council and CBRE. Sustainable projects emphasize energy and water conservation, but they are also more widely associated with the desire to improve quality of life. In real estate, the push for sustainability is embodied by the U.S. Green Building Council and Energy Star programs. Led by Atlanta-based design firms such as The Epsten Group and schools including Georgia Tech, Atlanta has started to more widely embrace how architecture, land-use policy ands real estate development affect the way people live and work. Other projects reinforced the commitment to transit alternatives. And, for the first time, MARTA plans to build high-rise mixed-use projects over the transit authority’s urban train stations.


  • Atlanta Journal Constitution

    It is impossible to ignore the kaleidoscope growth occurring on the north side of Metropolitan Atlanta in particular between I-75 and Interstate 85 along the Interstate 285 corridor.  Recent additions including the location of the new Braves Stadium, the State Farm development, the redevelopment of the General Motors Doraville plant and even redevelopment for Roswell Road all signal the explosive growth that characterizes the Northside phenomenon.  Included, of course, is the highly congested Interstate 285 corridor with the densest concentration of jobs located at Perimeter Center.  This area makes it abundantly clear that where you choose to live affects how you travel and your travel experience.  Perhaps as importantly the north side demonstrates that we are also choosing a travel experience that is equally important when we decide where we will shop, work and play.  

  • WAVE

    Louisville's concrete jungle is taking its toll on the city and its residents. Drivers may have noticed how the thermometers in their vehicles climb as they approach downtown. There is a reason behind the temperature change and it is not a good one. Louisville is a heat island. In fact, it is the number one heat island in the country. Phoenix ranked second followed by Atlanta. Other major cities like St. Louis and even the great megalopolis New York City rank much further down the list… The City of Louisville brought Dr. Brian Stone, a professor of urban planning at Georgia Tech, to discuss heat decreasing options. Dr. Stone came up with the heat island rankings and is the one who said Louisville has one of the warmest urban centers in the world. "What's unique about Louisville, in particular, is the tree canopy is very sparse. Increasing the tree canopy downtown is the key. We have a commission now that's working on this as well and a tree assessment is going on. This will help address that problem. Anytime we anytime we are displacing natural vegetation with parking lots and roads we're raising temps and that's what's happening in Louisville," he said.

  • Saporta Report

    Atlanta is a rapidly growing city that could offer a new methodology for rethinking the practicality and use of a shared right-of-way. Ranjani Prabhakar, a current MCRP and MS/CE student, writes that by using the work of local artists, the creativity of invested citizens, and the ingenuity of MARTA employees, the gradual implementation of a city-wide MARTA visual arts plan will contribute significantly to an Atlanta whose streets, sidewalks, rails and trails serve as canvases celebrating life, discovery and creativity. She believes Atlanta is at crossroads in achieving a community based on its growing ideals of building a system of economic development, housing, recreation and connectivity. MARTA can partner with the Atlanta BeltLine to expand the reach of public art in the city by embedding artists within its utilities to open up greater possibilities for improving the quality of life for its citizens. The art program will instill the faith in Atlantans that MARTA understands and celebrates the culture of various neighborhoods and communities through vibrant and diverse artwork, and is invested in enhancing the beauty of the metro region.

  • Forbes

    Forbes Magazine has a conversation with Ti Chang, designer and School of Industrial Design alum. Read about her career and her perspective on women in design.

  • Newsweek

    Newsweek examines the retrofitting of dead shopping malls across America. Professor Ellen Dunham-Jones weighs in on how communities are re-using the local mall.

  • BBC

    Georgia Tech researchers in the College of Civil and Environmental Engineering found that drivers who travel too fast or two slow cause ripples in the flow of traffic by forcing other drivers to break. Timid drivers leave large gaps in traffic, and aggressive drivers travel too close to the cars in front of them. Cities everywhere have unique traffic issues, but this is one of the common issues among them. Many scientists around the world are currently studying how to end congestion on city streets. Possible solutions include vehicle-to-vehicle communication, the creation of user crowdsourcing traffic apps, and even driverless cars.

  • Politico

    Developed by the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Georgia Tech, the Cycle Atlanta app allows cyclists automatically track their routes and manually upload feedback about road conditions and safety issues. these bikers will be able to voice their need for certain infrastructural changes, including the creation of new bike lanes and the construction of conveniently-located repair shops, without having to attend a public meeting. Cycle Atlanta is one example of a growing number of mobile apps that are being designed to improve, inspire and empower entire communities.

  • Government Technology

    More than 40 transportation-related tasks could be helped by the use of drones, says a recent study commissioned by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Potential uses for drones include everything from traffic management to inspections of traffic signals after installation, or sampling vehicle speed along particular corridors. The study also found that drones could be used for other GDOT tasks such as inspecting bridges for damage, conducting airport flight path inspections or monitoring wildlife along intracoastal waterways. 

  • Atlanta Journal Constitution

    A new Georgia Tech study, headed by School of Building Construction Assistant Professor Javier Irizarry, has shown that unmanned drones can be of significant help in analyzing traffic patterns and congestion, counting cars and help with accident investigations.

    The final project report on the project can be found at

  • Newsweek

    From 2013 to 2014, the nation’s metropolitan areas gained 2.3 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Prof. Dunham-Jones, who directs the MS/UD program, says that this is part of the reason at least 300 malls are now dead or dying. At least 205 of these, according to Dunham-Jones’ database, are being retrofitted to serve the surrounding communities. At least 40 of the projects are for “walkable, urban, mixed use” areas, says Dunham-Jones. A number of other dead malls are being re-greened and converted into parks.

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The founding director of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, a 7,000-plus member nonprofit environmental advocacy organization established in 1994, plans to retire at the end of this year. Sally Bethea earned her MCP from Georgia Tech in 1980, and has spent the past 20 years passionately protecting the Chattahoochee River. “It's been quite a ride -- peaks, valleys and everything in between,” says Bethea. “Never a dull moment, ever. Much to celebrate, things to cry over, but along the way it's just given me an opportunity to grow and to learn and to hopefully connect a lot more people to this river, because that's what it's all about. We can't lose this liquid lifeline.”

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Atlanta was named the No. 1 city for new college graduates, according to a survey published on MarketWatch.

    The ATL earned the top spot because of its low rent and high starting wages. The median price for a one-bedroom apartment is $800 and the mean entry-level income is $43,000, according to the survey which was calculated by and The city also earned props for the number of post-secondary educational institutions (Georgia Tech, Georgia State) and Fortune 500 companies. 

  • The Atlantic

    A subset of mobile computing apps and services are starting to allow the public to become more participatory in their home cities. The tools combine mobile computing devices that collect real- or recent-time data, with new forms of community participation, civic engagement, and local governance. In his research group at Georgia Tech, assistant professor Christopher La Dantec of the School of Literature, Media, and Communications has developed a smartphone app that interfaces with a larger regional planning project. The app, called Cycle Atlanta, enables cyclists to record their ride data—where they’ve gone, why they went there, what kind of cyclist they are—in an effort to collect more knowledge about cycling in the city. But more importantly, rather than just using data to identify faults in need of mending, Cycle Atlanta aggregates information with the explicit goal of helping the Atlanta cycling community advocate for particular infrastructural reforms.

  • The Daily Record

    Jacksonville has been hit with one of the nation’s hottest financial sector trends — REO-to-rental investors, where hedge funds, private equity firms and banks raise millions in capital to buy foreclosed or distressed homes in bulk at bargain prices, rehab them and turn them into rentals. Traditional landlords and owner-occupants would have had a difficult time making a dent in the massive amount of property on the market since the recession. These large institutions and private equity funds have bolstered the recovery of Jacksonville, as professor of City and Regional Planning Dan Immergluck notes. “There’s evidence in markets where they’ve moved in quickly, prices turned around,” Immergluck said. “They were falling, and they either stabilized or they started going up. I think they’ve helped put a floor under properties in some places, and I think that has some positive impacts.”

  • Eco Building Pulse

    Widening the scope of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) to examine how it can include larger-scale initiatives could start to shape the future of design practice. According to prof. Ellen Dunham-Jones, “Architects have a tendency to think their job is the building while stormwater is the engineer’s problem or that anything to do with the site is for the landscape architect. That compartmentalization ignores how interdependent all of these things are.” Architects and designers can start addressing a community’s transportation issues, outdoor space usage, and mental and physical health concerns in their own process to begin strategically engaging IEQ solutions. “We’re beginning to see and understand that there are opportunities to increase wellbeing through design,” Dunham-Jones says. “That’s incredibly empowering.” 

  • The Tennessean

    The work of students in professor Ellen Dunham-Jones’ spring studio, which addresses redevelopment in Nashville’s retail areas, was recently showcased by the Nashville Civic Design Center. The students, along with others from the University of Tennessee, have been researching areas identified by the Nashville Metro Planning Department to develop concepts for bringing economic growth, connections to public transportation, and more urban-style housing to the area. Projects range from the creation of mixed-use walkable communities, smoother transitions between residential neighborhoods and industrial areas, and the design of a more unified landscape connecting important sites in Nashville. 

  • The Courier-Journal

    Louisville, known for its depleted tree cover, will be getting a tree canopy assessment by the end of the year in addition to another study that began in February which is examining Louisville’s issues with urban heat, mapping the hottest areas of the city and assessing the effect of efforts to cool areas with tree planting and cooler building materials. Research out of Georgia Tech found that Louisville may be heating up faster than any other metro area, when city temperatures are compared to the surrounding countryside. Brian Stone, an associate professor of city and regional planning at Georgia Tech's School of City and Regional Planning, has been hired to lead the city’s urban-heat study, which was budgeted at $135,000.

  • NPR

    Associate professor Brian Stone highlighted the importance of early action on combating climate change and its detrimental effects on public health in an interview with NPR. Stone, director of the Urban Climate Lab at Georgia Tech, spoke with correspondent Melissa Block about the threat that heat waves, increasing cases of asthma, and the development of more favorable environments for insect borne diseases will have on global well-being.  Stone outlined ways in which cities can prepare and protect the public from these threats. “Chicago's been trying to cool down the city by using more reflective materials in their alleyways, lighter materials that reflect more sunlight away, and also materials that can allow rainwater to infiltrate,” Stone says. “And so having the moisture, more moisture retained in the city can also cool it down…that's an example of one city that's responded to a historical health threat that is likely to increase in the future in a positive way.”