Ali Shiraef

English 1103H

Category: Major Projects (page 1 of 4)

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Description)

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Perkerson Park turned out to be my favorite park that I visited. The park is absolutely huge, and has many things to do. The park is very fully encapsulated by surrounding neighborhoods, which I assume is where most of the visitors come from. The full frisbee golf course, multiple softball fields, outstanding playgrounds, useful recreation buildings, nice utilities, and beautiful scenery all make this park worth the visit. While D.H. Stanton had a great feel to it, Perkerson does as well, but with a better feeling of nature and scenery. Plentiful trees and the beautiful stream make it a very woodsy park. On the day I visited, the park was mostly empty. However, it was easy for me to imagine the families and groups of people that most likely come and visit this park, and use it for various activities. I believe parks like this one make a great addition to the connectivity and innovation that the Beltline hopes to accelerate, and that they are very beneficial additions to neighborhoods and cities. Some of downtown Atlanta’s parks are less than appealing, and tend to either be underused, under kept, bland, or all of the above. Perkerson Park, however, proves how a city park should be. A city is a city, and that means the environment has very little trees, nature, water, etc. A park’s job is to create an appealing environment for citizens to enjoy, as well as provide a location for people to partake in activities that there may be no space for in the city. Perkerson Park perfectly defines this kind of park, and that’s why it belongs on the trail of the Beltline.

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Artifact 5)

https://youtu.be/dKz2cR8TgvA

The video above shows a short clip of one of the most prominent sounds I experienced at Perkerson Park. dsc_0152 dsc_0151

These images show the stream itself, and an example of one of the multiple bridges placed throughout the park that allow park visitors and frisbee golf players to cross over the stream.

I have always loved the sight and sound of running streams, and this park brought me back to my childhood some. Both the immense amount of trees and the stream brought a very nature-oriented feel to this park.

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Artifact 4)

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One thing that stood out to me in this park were three humungous pavilions/buildings that appeared to be meant for special events and other recreational activities. The first two images show the building, which I did not get to take a picture of the interior, but it looked very nicely built and appeared to have a basement. The third and fourth images show different pavilion type structures with plenty of seating, trash cans, and grills. The fourth image, if looked at closely, also shows a few men I witnessed filming what appeared to be a music video. The amount of opportunity in this park is very clear with these structures and the environment they are in. The park is undoubtedly an attractive place for the surrounding neighborhoods, families, and communities.

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Artifact 3)

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One of the most peculiar aspects of the park was the seemingly hidden full set of softball/baseball fields. Through my online research, I saw that one of the attractions for Perkserson Park were the softball fields, but I truly could not find a way to access them. I discovered there was an entirely other entrance to the park from a different neighborhood after several minutes of searching. The fields were beautiful and made me want to play some softball like I did with my family when I was a kid. There were signs about the place about different teams, answering the question of why these fields even existed. Compared to the D.H. Stanton softball field, these fields appeared to be built for competitive and recreational use, with scoreboards, high fencing, and nice dugouts, towers, and lights. The fields proved to be yet another amazing attraction in Perkerson Park.

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Artifact 2)

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Perkerson Park’s playground may have defeated D. H. Stanton’s in regards to both size and quality. The first two images show two different playground sets with various sets of monkey bars, slides, and activities. On the weekday afternoon that I visited the park, the playgrounds were entirely empty. However, it’s easy to imagine groups of children playing around on the swings and the monkey bars after school in this neighborhood park. The park did an awesome job of making the park feel both kid-friendly and attractive to adults with the large pavilions and full frisbee golf course.

Beltline: Perkerson Park (Extra BED; Artifact 1)

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The structure of Perkerson Park is created around a full frisbee golf course. The individual holes are well hidden among the parks plentiful forestry and running streams. It took several minutes of exploring for me to even realize there was a frisbee golf course at all. The holes are marked by patches of turf used as tees, as pictured in the fourth image. As I walked around, a group of frisbee golfers casually played a match. They seemed to have visited the park often. The entire course consists of 18 holes placed throughout the park. It was undoubtedly an interesting addition to an urban park such as Perkerson.

Built Environment Analysis (Final Draft)

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The Beltline project in Atlanta has created a spectrum of feelings amongst its citizens. Some have strongly supported the project since its beginning as a simple grassroots initiative based on a Georgia Tech student’s masters thesis; others strongly oppose the project with concerns of gentrification and rising housing costs. However, the intentions of the Beltline are true to Atlanta and its citizens. The Beltline and its creator, Ryan Gravel, aim to create a new sense of connectivity and cultural relationships throughout Atlanta. With 33 miles of bike and walking trails, linking together over 40 Atlanta neighborhoods, connecting 40 new and existing parks, and eventually implementing a new and improved public transit system for Atlanta, the Beltline is the most ambitious and innovative urban design projects in Atlanta’s history. It aims to not only improve the actual layout and design of Atlanta, but to vastly change and improve the social and cultural environment of the city. The Beltline is a project specifically designed to maximize the effects of its built environment: to intentionally, deliberately change lives and encourage community.


So What is the Beltline?

ABL Overview Broch Outside hires

The Atlanta Beltline, according to their website, is “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other” (Atlanta Beltline). Some people have found this to be a long description of a glorified sidewalk; others have realized the true intentions of the Beltline and strongly support its construction. Neighborhood activists around Atlanta continuously chip in on the effort to expand and fund the Atlanta Beltline. In the beginning of Ryan Gravel’s book “Where We Want to Live”, he details the cultural and social inspirations behind a project like the Beltline. He explains how living in a pedestrian and bike friendly city changes the way people interact and live with one another. I believe these ideas are revolutionary in the genre of urban design and renewal. The transformation of a now outdated and overgrown rail system into an accessible, useful, and modern pedestrian trail meant for thousands of Atlantan citizens should be considered nothing less than innovative.


What has the Beltline Accomplished so Far?

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Currently, 11 miles of the proposed 22 are up and running. Several parks have already been connected to the Beltline, such as Perkerson, D.H. Stanton, Boulevard Crossing, and Historic Fourth Ward Parks. Businesses such as those that exist in Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market have been able to prosper thanks to the open access the Beltline provides. Many new restaurants and apartment complexes have begun to pop up along the trail as well. The popularity of the trail can be measured clearly by simply visiting any of the completed trails during a beautiful weekend. The Beltline has effectively initiated urban renewal and reuse so far with the usage of the old railways as well as projects like the Historic Fourth Ward Park which created a storm water basin/recreational park as a dual-use green space.

One of the most popular programs of the Beltline is the of the Art on the Atlanta Beltline initiative. This project serves as Atlanta’s “largest temporary public art exhibition and a testament to the Atlanta BeltLine as a living, breathing entity that is more than just trees, trails, and rails” (Atlanta Beltline). One specific art project aimed not only to contribute to the art on the Beltline, but to contribute to the social community. In her article “Conversations in Clay”, Kira Hegeman describes the project as a place for creating a dynamic art installation and a place for informal art education influenced by conversation and social interaction. One of the primary aims of the project was to “encourage empathic interaction between diverse community members” (Hegeman). Projects like “Conversations in Clay” are creations of the Beltline and the environment it creates. Another example of a community art project was the kickstarter to the Art on the Atlanta Beltline initiative, the Atlanta Lantern Parade, which has grown from 1,200 participants in 2012 to more than 60,000 in 2015. The parade brings people from all over the state to participate and witness the beautiful lights and colors of the lanterns.

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What will the Beltline accomplish?

The Beltline’s long term goals are of course to completely finish the trail itself around the entire 22-mile corridor, but also to establish public transit along the trail. There is an act on the November ballot for Fulton County that would better fund all transportation projects in Atlanta, including the Beltline. This funding would go toward clearing out the areas of overgrowth that currently exist on some untouched sections of the Beltline, as well as clearing the path for an eventual transit system. The Beltline also aims to extend and create new parks and green space around Atlanta.

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While the parks and the trails are a direct and obvious goal of the construction of the Beltline, another goal to consider, as desired by its creator, Ryan Gravel, is affordable housing along the Beltline. As citizens of Atlanta continue to use the Beltline and prove its worth, housing costs will rise. It is up to Atlanta’s government, citizens, and Beltline participants to effectively establish affordable housing along this multi-use trail. In Gravel’s book, he talked about how pedestrian friendly cities create an environment where people of all different backgrounds and personalities can coexist and interact effortlessly. He wanted the same to occur with the Beltline, but without the extreme efforts of the Beltline officials and possibly government intervention, gentrification will occur, and the Beltline will be mostly excluded to the upper-middle class. This is a problem the Beltline must face as it continues to establish its presence in the city.

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What’s the point of the Beltline? 

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While literally and technically, the Beltline is just a sidewalk, the effects of this project have already proven to be huge in the city, and will continue to grow. Just the simple concept of a connected city has been lost in Atlanta since the ending of the streetcar system. Public transit currently doesn’t exist in Atlanta outside of the tiny loop of downtown that the “Atlanta Streetcar” covers (which is a distance I can easily walk). The Beltline, for someone like me, provides an easy and safe way for me to travel to places I like, such as Ponce City Market, Old Fourth Ward Park, and Krog Street Market. These places are cool to a young person like me, and are not only attractive to people like me, but to the city itself. Atlanta lacks the “feel” and “flavor” that some cities may be described as having. When you think of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, or Boston, it’s easy for most people to describe the cities and their personality as places. Atlanta excludes itself from this concept. Urban design projects like the Beltline encourage a personality to finally attach itself to the city.

Not only would the Beltline be good for the city itself, but for its people. I have now walked the Beltline multiple times this semester, and have already felt a better connection to my city. While I know there is much more to Atlanta than the downtown campus of Georgia State and the areas of the Beltline, I believe I have experienced more of the city than many of the people that live here.

Atlanta has significantly less green space than many of the cities like it, and the completed Beltline will increase the amount it has by 40%.


How does the environment of the Beltline inspire more social, cultural, and political connectivity in the city of Atlanta? 

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Ryan Gravel describes the primary goal of the Beltline project: “To create opportunities for people to lead the kind of lives they want” (Gravel). He also describes how the integration of purpose and meaning into infrastructure is the key to creating a successful built environment. He writes “Beyond aesthetics and this kind of basic functionality, if we let it, the design of infrastructure can also push us further.”

The Atlanta Beltline inspires greater connectivity and quality of life among its citizens. The giant infrastructure will not only improve the environment of the city, but the way we interact with it. It promotes healthy living, creative outlets (such as the various art projects in place along the Beltline), small business growth, community connectivity, and adventure. Citizens that oppose the Beltline project and its growth for issues of gentrification are blaming the wrong thing. The gentrification issue is one that emerges whenever an urban project aiming to improve the quality of life for citizens successfully improves the quality of life (Cummings). Citizens of Atlanta should not so easily condemn such an innovative project for problems that are caused external systems, such as rising housing costs and gentrification. A city with an unfulfilling built environment should not be left the way it is without attempting to improve it. Not only have the topics of gentrification and affordable housing largely contributed to the political conversation, but the Beltline activists that support the project have proven to be a huge political presence in Atlanta. People have fought for more funding and for specific aspects of the project to be completed. On the November 2016 ballot, Fulton county voted for more transportation funding for the city, which included the Beltline. Despite the fact that the project is now a project of the city of Atlanta, its citizens have not given up on having their voices heard regarding how it is created.

The progress the Beltline project so far show so much promise for what started as a simple grassroots initiative by a Georgia Tech architecture student. The goals the project plans to achieve will change the city and the lives of its inhabitants for years to come. Not only is the construction of the project beneficial to the entire makeup of the city, but the social and cultural initiatives a project like this takes may finally add to the “feel” of a city like Atlanta. While people come to see the World of Coke, the Aquarium, the Carter Center, and other sightseer attractions, the Beltline and the innovation it influences (like Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market) might not only attract visitors, but the people that live in Atlanta and want it to be an overall better place to live.

 

Sources:

Gravel, Ryan. Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities. New York: St. Martin’s, 2016. Print.

“Atlanta Beltline Overview.” The Atlanta BeltLine. Atlanta Beltline, 2016. Web. Dec. 2016.

Cummings, Alex. “Is the Beltline Bad for Atlanta?” Tropics of Meta. N.p., 19 Dec. 2014. Web. Dec. 2016.

Hegeman, K. (2016). Conversations in clay: Engaging community through a socially engaged public art project. The Journal ofArt for Life. 8(2).

 

Built Environment Analysis (Draft 2)

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After conducting the research that I have for this class regarding the Beltline, I have discovered that many of the subjects people discuss regarding the urban design project revolve around gentrification and rising costs of living. I would like to argue that a project like the Beltline is innovative in the way that it adapts urban renewal and attempts to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods of Atlanta. The ideas that motivated the creation of the Beltline, as provided by its inventor Ryan Gravel, introduce a modern concept to the idea of the city. It has the potential to transform Atlanta, but especially to inspire urban designers to think differently in regards to how to improve the quality of life city dwellers face.


So What is the Beltline?

The Atlanta Beltline, according to their website, is “the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other.” Some people have found this to be a long description of a glorified sidewalk; others have realized the true intentions of the Beltline and strongly support its construction. Neighborhood activists around Atlanta continuously chip in on the effort to expand and fund the Atlanta Beltline. In the beginning of Ryan Gravel’s book “Where We Want to Live”, he details the cultural and social inspirations behind a project like the Beltline. He explains how living in a pedestrian and bike friendly city changes the way people interact and live with one another. I believe these ideas are revolutionary in the genre of urban design and renewal. The transformation of a now outdated and overgrown rail system into an accessible, useful, and modern pedestrian trail meant for thousands of Atlantan citizens should be considered nothing less than innovative.


What has the Beltline Accomplished so Far?

Currently, 11 miles of the proposed 22 are up and running. Several parks have already been connected to the Beltline, such as Perkerson, D.H. Stanton, Boulevard Crossing, and Historic Fourth Ward Parks. Businesses such as those that exist in Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market have been able to prosper thanks to the open access the Beltline provides. Many new restaurants and apartment complexes have begun to pop up along the trail as well. The popularity of the trail can be measured clearly by simply visiting any of the completed trails during a beautiful weekend. The Beltline has effectively initiated urban renewal and reuse so far with the usage of the old railways as well as projects like the Historic Fourth Ward Park which created a storm water basin/recreational park as a dual-use green space.


What will the Beltline accomplish?

The Beltline’s long term goals are of course to completely finish the trail itself around the entire 22-mile corridor, but also to establish public transit along the trail. There is an act on the November ballot for Fulton County that would better fund all transportation projects in Atlanta, including the Beltline. This funding would go toward clearing out the areas of overgrowth that currently exist on some untouched sections of the Beltline, as well as clearing the path for an eventual transit system. The Beltline also aims to extend and create new parks and green space around Atlanta.

https://goo.gl/images/AxVuJj

While the parks and the trails are a direct and obvious goal of the construction of the Beltline, another goal to consider, as desired by its creator, Ryan Gravel, is affordable housing along the Beltline. As citizens of Atlanta continue to use the Beltline and prove its worth, housing costs will rise. It is up to Atlanta’s government, citizens, and Beltline participants to effectively establish affordable housing along this multi-use trail. In Gravel’s book, he talked about how pedestrian friendly cities create an environment where people of all different backgrounds and personalities can coexist and interact effortlessly. He wanted the same to occur with the Beltline, but without the extreme efforts of the Beltline officials and possibly government intervention, gentrification will occur, and the Beltline will be mostly excluded to the upper-middle class. This is a problem the Beltline must face as it continues to establish its presence in the city.


What’s the point of the Beltline? 

While literally and technically, the Beltline is just a sidewalk, the effects of this project have already proven to be huge in the city, and will continue to grow. Just the simple concept of a connected city has been lost in Atlanta since the ending of the streetcar system. Public transit currently doesn’t exist in Atlanta outside of the tiny loop of downtown that the “Atlanta Streetcar” covers (which is a distance I can easily walk). The Beltline, for someone like me, provides an easy and safe way for me to travel to places I like, such as Ponce City Market, Old Fourth Ward Park, and Krog Street Market. These places are cool to a young person like me, and are not only attractive to people like me, but to the city itself. Atlanta lacks the “feel” and “flavor” that some cities may be described as having. When you think of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, or Boston, it’s easy for most people to describe the cities and their personality as places. Atlanta excludes itself from this concept. Urban design projects like the Beltline encourage a personality to finally attach itself to the city.

Not only would the Beltline be good for the city itself, but for its people. I have now walked the Beltline multiple times this semester, and have already felt a better connection to my city. While I know there is much more to Atlanta than the downtown campus of Georgia State and the areas of the Beltline, I believe I have experienced more of the city than many of the people that live here.

Atlanta has significantly less green space than many of the cities like it, and the completed Beltline will increase the amount it has by 40%.

Annotated Bibliography (Source 9)

Binkovitz, Leah. “Atlanta BeltLine Creator Resigns Citing Affordability, Equity Concerns.” The Urban Edge. Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Sept. 2016. Web. Nov. 2016.

Atlanta BeltLine Creator Resigns Citing Affordability, Equity Concerns

This article details the resigning of Ryan Gravel, the creator of the Beltline, from the Beltline Board. The author explains that he left due to fears of lack of affordable housing and gentrification. She also writes that the Beltline “set aside $7.5 million for affordable housing.” She includes brief summaries of Gravel’s reasoning for the Beltline, including details of railroad reuse and terrible traffic patterns. As reasoning for his resignation, Binkovitz says that Gravel left due to the fact that the Beltline started out as a “grassroots” effort, but had become a project revolved around funding. Later on, Binkovitz describes the Beltline’s comprehensive plan for the Trust for Public Land. She outlines how the Beltline currently embraces green space in an urban city, economic development, equality, and less automobile use. Compared to the previous source I collected, this article shows just how important the idea of participatory planning is to the creator of the Beltline, Ryan Gravel. The writer describes how he and his colleague felt about leaving: “The two said they were still optimistic about the project’s future and ‘committed to remain active in its implementation for the people of this city,’ but that they felt ‘compelled to concentrate our efforts more directly on making sure that the Atlanta BeltLine lives up to its promise and potential, and specifically, that its investments and supporting policies become more intentional about who they will benefit.’” With huge urban projects like the Beltline, the people of a city must be able to have their voice heard regarding the planning and development of such projects. The source comes from a blog created at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Leah Binkovitz is a journalist, not an urban designer or city planner, and therefore, her article can be seen as observation rather than analysis or study.

Annotated Bibliography (Source 8)

Bogle, Mary, Somala Diby, and Eric Burnstein. “Equitable Development Planning and Urban Park Space.” Urban.org. Urban Institute, July 2016. Web. Nov. 2016.

http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000874-Equitable-Development-Planning-and-Urban-Park-Space.pdf

This report discusses the ideas of equitable development planning for urban space projects and the effectiveness of creating parks for the sake of equity. The report focuses on the 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington D.C., which currently only exists on paper. The authors of the report spend a brief time describing the park, and the park’s general goals. They then overview the idea of equity in urban planning, and how participatory planning can allow “increased voice and greater control by affected communities.” They also explain how parks are specific spaces made for the common people, and how they are meant to “provide safe spaces for recreation and build communities through interaction and organized activities.” The report then discusses the different cultural and economic tensions that have existed in D.C. and how the park plans to influence these regions. As they describe the park in further detail, as well as provide gorgeous images of the soon-to-be park, the authors point out the fact that the planners of the park reached out to community members about how the park could affect them economically. The authors then outline very specific and detailed plans for how the park would be planned with equity, and how the park would only benefit those living around it, including with affordable housing. This report is relevant to the Beltline due to the fact that the Beltline is so focused around the idea of community involvement. The Beltline has its own group of activists in Atlanta working to make sure it becomes the project that citizens want it to be. This report effectively outlines how a park/urban design project can benefit from participatory planning on the people’s part. The very end of the report contains numerous sources as well as descriptions on all three of the authors. All three are research associates with backgrounds in urban planning, housing, and inequality in cities. The park discussed in this source has many similar goals to the Beltline that Ryan Gravel wanted.

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