Notable News

  • UN Habitat

    Over 35 experts met from 11 to 12 November 2014 in Fukuoka, Japan to finalise the drafting of international  guidelines on urban and territorial planning. In accordance with the Resolution 24/3 of UN-Habitat Governing Council, the experts will submit the 20 page draft Guidelines for consideration and further transmission to the 25th Governing Council of UN-Habitat in April 2015. The proposed Guidelines constitute a global framework for improving policies, plans, designs and implementation processes for more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change. Bruce Stiftel, professor and chair of the School of City and Regional Planning, was a member of the Expert Group. 

  • Atlanta INtown

    Most of us know the Atlanta BeltLine. It’s where we walk, bike, run a 5K, watch the lantern parade, access parks and other neighborhoods. We’re hungry for this type of sustainable connectivity and community, which started fifteen years ago as an idea from then Georgia Tech graduate student, Ryan Gravel. After spending his senior year in Paris, where he walked everywhere, ate fresh foods, and lost 15 pounds Gravel thought deeply about the role of city infrastructure in how we live our lives. Sidewalks versus highways, for example, encourage different lifestyles.

    “Atlanta is a railroad town,” Gravel explained, “with compact mixed-use intown neighborhoods built around streetcars.” Gravel was fascinated by trains as a child growing up in Chamblee. So, when he needed a city-scale design project for his master’s thesis, Gravel knew what infrastructure was missing to revitalize Atlanta – transit. His master’s thesis became the kernel of a vision that would transform a 22-mile loop of old railroads with transit, trails, and green space to promote economic growth and quality-of-life in 45 neighborhoods.

  • Aljazeera America

    The housing market has picked up in recent months. Contributing to that is a trend of private equity firms and hedge funds buying up tens of thousands of vacant houses to sell as single-family rental homes. Wall Street has also created a new security by bundling the rent payments of the tenants in those properties. The homes being bought up by investment groups like Blackstone were at one-time available to be purchased outright.

     "There is nothing inherently wrong with rental housing, especially when investor-owners maintain it well and treat tenants fairly," says professor Dan Immergluck. "Unfortunately, in most cities in the U.S., tenants have access to few legal protections, are offered only short-term (1-year) leases and are vulnerable to escalating rents. For many families, especially those with children and older households, value stable housing situations where they can raise their kids or retire in security, many rental situations are less than ideal. And at a neighborhood level, rapid declines in homeownership can lead to a loss of social capital from stable residents who are particularly vested in the area. Even the large Wall Street single-family investors who rent out homes look to invest in neighborhoods with relatively high homeownership rates."

  • Creative Loafing

    On Nov. 12 Atlanta Beltline officials will break ground on the long-awaited Westside Trail, and a new chapter in southwest Atlanta begins. It's a future some locals are viewing in frontier boom-town terms, filled with a mix of exciting opportunity and concerns about potential displacement. Some residents are concerned about losing some neighborhoods' history and that communities could be hurt by real estate speculators snatching up affordable homes. That could mean property values rise so high that some residents, including renters and seniors, get displaced. NPU K officials have been trying to help some seniors find property tax relief. More needs to be done, says Dan Immergluck, a Georgia Tech planning professor whose research found that the announcement of the Beltline a decade ago spurred rising property values and taxes and displacement. He told Creative Loafing that a property tax refund program — known in some places as a "circuit breaker" — should be instituted to protect current homeowners from potential steep rises in property taxes.

  • Saporta Report

    Social media is enabling the Georgia Tech analysis of Memorial Drive to proceed at a startling rate of speed. The Leopard condo building is rising on the former site of the dive-bar Lenny’s. It’s one of 24 projects Georgia Tech students have identified along Memorial Drive. As various findings appear on a Facebook page and are shared via other social media, interested parties are providing feedback to the Tech students in almost real time. Portions of a report presented Oct. 27 are already substantially out of date, Tech professor of practice Mike Dobbins said Tuesday. The result is that the final report is likely to be much more comprehensive than originally anticipated. It’s due for release in early December and could become the basis of a potential city plan to guide the redevelopment of the Memorial Drive corridor from near the state Capitol east toward Decatur.

  • WABE

    The street that stretches from downtown Atlanta to Stone Mountain may get a new look. Atlanta City Council member Natalyn Archibong is leading the effort to upgrade Memorial Drive. An East Atlanta resident, Archibong says she’s witnessed a renaissance in her neighborhood and that Memorial Drive is ready for its own. “It’s one building, it’s one parcel, and then all of a sudden there’s this critical mass of energy that becomes electric and people want to get on board,” says Archibong. “I think Memorial Drive is at that tipping point.”

    So what would a new Memorial Drive look like? That’s what Archibong has asked Georgia Tech Professor Mike Dobbins and his students to figure out. The students are designing a plan to redevelop the street which looks at sidewalks, intersections, green space and building lots. Dobbins is the former Planning Commissioner for the city of Atlanta. He says the challenge is that streets that we use the most, like Memorial Drive and Northside Drive, often look and functions the worst. “Where we travel the most should look the best,” says Dobbins.  “The access to the goods and services and retail, office, and residential should be grand and gracious. It’s a public realm, we own the streets.”

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Clayton County is set to vote on Tuesday whether or not MARTA should be extended into their county. Supporters say, if the vote passes, Clayton residents will get not only bus service and eventually rail, but they potentially could change decades of regional economic imbalance and plant the seeds of prosperity. Opponents argue that a yes vote could mean more taxes and crime, without any guarantee that the millions coming from Clayton County will be spent in Clayton. “This is a huge deal,” said Catherine Ross, director of the Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development at Georgia Tech. She is also deputy director of the National Center for Transportation Productivity and Management. “Joining MARTA could be a catalyst for development and redevelopment in Clayton County,” Ross said. “It’ll make people want to live there, move businesses there, shop and work there. That’s all economic development. What Clayton is doing is positioning itself to not only connect both north and south metro Atlanta but become a rail conduit for metro Atlanta’s link to Macon.”

  • Saporta Report

    Reducing the speed limit on Memorial Drive from 35 mph to 25 mph could improve safety, cut tailpipe emissions, boost the roadway’s capacity, and even reduce trip times because traffic would flow more smoothly. Another startling discovery associated with the analysis of Memorial Drive, being conducted this autumn by Georgia Tech city and regional planning graduate students, is the high degree of buy-in from Atlanta city councilmembers who represent the area. Councilmember Natalyn Archibong initiated the project and encouraged Tech to allocate a graduate design studio to conduct the analysis. Archibong provided about $13,000 from her council account to help fund Tech’s analysis. She also propelled the project through the city’s planning department, an effort that ended with Tom Weyandt, deputy chief operating officer for Mayor Kasim Reed, agreeing to authorize the department to provide Tech with an additional $7,500 for the studio.

    Archibong arranged to open the atrium of Atlanta City Hall to the students on Monday evening, where they presented the results of their first 10 weeks of work on the Memorial Drive corridor. Archibong likely will be the sponsor of any amendments to the city’s Comprehensive Development Plan, or proposals to retool the roadway and its intersections, that emanate from the analysis by the Tech students. By the end of the year, the students expect to finalize a number of conclusions and recommendations.

  • Business Insider

    Business Insider has ranked the Georgia Institute of Technology as the smartest public college in the country. In order to determine a school’s overall smarts, Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program researcher, analyzed the average standardized test scores that schools report to US News. (Those that did not report scores are not included.) University of California-Berkley, College of William and Mary, the United States Air Force Academy, and the University of Virginia rounded out the top five.

  • The Daily Tribune News

    A group of Georgia Institute of Technology students, including city and regional planning students Brianna Rindge and Nathan Coursey, will gather in Kingston, GA Saturday morning to walk though the town, examine its historic structures and talk to residents about the town’s history. The trip is part of the Intro to Historic Preservation class for graduate and undergraduate students. At 9:30 a.m., 14 students will be taking part in the tour, led by Georgia Tech Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs Leslie Sharp.

    Mayor Wanda Penson of Kingston said Sharp had contacted her and city council member Harold Posey approximately two months ago and asked if the city would welcome her class. Penson said she was looking forward to the students’ visit.

  • 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.”

  • Equipment World

    Javier Irizarry is featured in an article on drones on the job site

  • 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.