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The Horror of Downtown Atlanta

   The Congress for the New Urbanism held their eighteenth annual meeting in Atlanta this year. Why they chose the downtown Hilton for the event remains a mystery -- maybe they got a supernaturally amazing discount on room rates. In any case, the following photos depict the urban design conditions at the very heart of downtown Atlanta. Prozac recommended for viewing....

Leaving the hotel. Notice the soffit converging with pavement.


The Soffit terminates at the HVAC vent.
Nice for wino shelter in wintertime.


Across Harris Street: attractive surface parking.
Behind, elevated pedestrian gerbil chute to multistory parking structure.

Overhead, gerbil chute. Ahead to left, WTF???
A giant tape measure suspended over an escalator???

Looking back down Harris Street, notice heroic length of gerbil chute, also known as the Rape-O-Matic Skyway.

Creative use of cladding materials, motif unfathomable

Multistory parking deck, only one of dozens.
Non-parking buildings are mere accessories to parking structures.

Ingress / Egress for cars. Humans need not apply.

The blank wall is a popular theme in downtown Atlanta.
Slot at ground level suggests they check in but they don't check out....

Down Peachtree Street, remnants of the Beaux Arts, circa 1900.
The center of Atlanta used to havre some charm and grace.
It has mostly been destroyed.

Forensic pathology lab? Fuhrerbunker?
No. Main Atlanta Library

More inviting streetscape.  Even the homeless avoid it.

Attempt to construct a more intimate streetscape.
They forgot the programming. No storefront activity. Whoops.

A block at the heart of downtown Atlanta with normal urban conditions.
Good street detailing and fine-grained retail programming.

This mode of urban design out-of-date in Atlanta.


Retail programming still present but street trees discontinued, sidewalks narrowed.

Back to Atlanta "normal."
Patriotic flags and landscaping gestures substitute for urban design.
Fortification trumps all other design concerns.

One-way streets turn all byways into mini-freeways, repel humans.

Street trees planted but blank walls prevail behind at frontage. Nice try.

The main hub station of Atlanta's MARTA transit system at Five Points.
Brutalism was the favorite style of the period.

The colorful abstract structure in foreground used to be the Wonderful World of Coca-Cola, or something like that.
Coke was invented in Atlanta and world headquarters are there.
Statehouse in background.

Overpass above former railroad right of way.
Atlanta's original reason for existence was as railroad hub.

You're still in the heart of downtown.
Who set off the neutron bomb ???

Tiny remnant of pre-20th century city

Festive conditions moving north on Courtland Street

Layers of fortification: steel fence, chain link fence, razor wire.

Trying to keep socialists out ???

Back home at the Atlanta Hilton.
Darth Vader Moderne.
Farewell downtown Atlanta

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