Urban Lab Shows CNU 18 Making Early Impact in Atlanta

Atlanta leaders and CNU experts meet to hone vision for future of downtown

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Every CNU Congress is an “urban lab,” using the streets and neighborhoods of the host city as study areas to explore ways that the principles of urbanism play out – or need to play out – in real places. In Atlanta, host city for the 18th annual Congress, May 19-22, the lab idea is being taken to a new level.

With the collaboration of key Atlanta Metro organizations, CNU18 planners are staging a series of urban lab workshops leading into the May Congress. They’ll spotlight redevelopment opportunities in key neighborhoods and corridors.

The first workshop has already taken place. Central Atlanta Progress – the downtown redevelopment organization that brings together property owners, investors, other non-profits, and the City of Atlanta – joined with CNU to convene an informational forum on January 14 and a workshop in a downtown neighborhood the following day. Participating in both the forum and workshop were CNU president John Norquist, CNU co-founder Stefanos Polyzoides, and CNU board member Dhiru Thadani. Both Thadani and Polyzoides have won multiple CNU Charter Awards and other honors for their work revitalizing neighborhoods using innovative human-scaled design solutions.

As Ben Brown reported at Placeshakers.com:

Conference organizers in Atlanta are working with Metro governments, non-profits, and the private sector to create lead-in events tied to all the big themes of the May gathering. The broadest of the themes, of course, is the “healthy communities” category, reflecting the association with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can read about that in one of our previous posts.

There are also opportunities to integrate CNU responses on topics having to do with transportation and transit, sustainability, affordability, “aging in place,” and retrofitting suburban sprawl.

Brown also was on hand to record quick videos of Urban Lab participants. Here's John Norquist’s scene-setting “why Atlanta” video:

Here is Stefanos Polyzoides’ analysis of Atlanta’s challenges and opportunities:

And here is an overview of the Jan. 15 neighborhood urban lab with Central Atlanta Progress, Dhiru Thadani, and other participants:

Next up is another lead-in lab opportunity on March 1 and 2, when Sustainable Urbanism author Doug Farr appears as one of the main speakers at the annual Greenprints conference. The conference is sponsored by Southface, the Atlanta-based non-profit that trains builders, developers, and others in state-of-the-art green building practices.

Special thanks to Ben Brown at Place Shakers for contributing to this report.