Atlanta’s Design Awards offer chance to contemplate the city being built

By David Pendered

In the yin and yang duality that illustrates Atlanta’s development cycles, the annual Design Awards presented by Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission represent a moment to pause and take stock of the city’s built environment, of what has been lost and gained.

journey 3

Atlanta’s Design Awards recognized the public art installation, ‘Journey to Freedom: Women of the Civil Rights Movement.’ Artist Lynn Marshall Linnemeier created the piece with photographs taken by Doris A. Derby, Susan Ross and Sheila Turner. Credit: Kelly Jordan

This year’s program marked the 41st time civic leaders have gathered to celebrate projects that have, according to an online invitation, “set a new standard for the city’s built environment.” For the second time, another group of projects was recognized with a Community Design Award, with recipients chosen by a vote of members of the city’s Neighborhood Planning Units.

This year’s celebration, on May 17, underscored the significance of projects the awards are intended to honor. Development pressures escalate as Atlanta’s back-to-the-city movement approaches its third decade, continuing the demand for land within the city and the potential for existing structures to be demolished and replaced with new ones.

The UDC voted at its May 23 meeting to extend a landmark status to two buildings threatened with demolition. The status provides a level of protection to the H.M. Patterson & Son Spring Hill Chapel, located on Spring Street, and to the Virginia Court Apartments, at 881 Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The next day, developers of a proposed 21-story Margaritaville hotel and destination entertainment complex, to overlook Centennial Olympic Park, explained the merits of their proposal. As currently planned, the project would require the demolition of two buildings nearly 100 years old – located at 141 Walton and 152 Nassau streets. The plan was presented to the Downtown Development Review Committee, which is to forward its advisory ruling to the city.

The Design Awards, and the city’s visioning book released in 2017, The Atlanta City Design: Aspiring to the Beloved Community, provide a window to contemplate the Atlanta that is being built for future generations. The awards present an annual moment-in-time to reflect on the environment built in the previous year or so. The book, coordinated by Atlanta Planning Commissioner Tim Keane and lead designer Ryan Gravel, presents a chance to fathom the texture of the city that is being built.

Broadstone Midtown

The Broadstone Midtown won a Design Award in the New Construction category. A one-bedroom unit on a lower floor is priced at $1,939 a month and a two-bedroom unit on the top floor is priced at $3,110 a month. Credit: broadstonemidtown.com

Atlanta’s development boom shows no signs of slowing, according to the Fiscal Year 2019 city budget proposed by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. The budget is to provide for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The Atlanta City Council is to adopt a budget by June 30.

In the category of building permits, the administration forecasts a 5.7 percent increase in revenue growth, compared to the value of building permits issued in FY 2018. The proceeds account for permits issued for building, plumbing, electrical, and for systems to heat, cool and ventilate buildings.

The actual revenues from building permits are difficult to parse out of the budget proposal. The line item amount, of $33.3 million, includes general business/ license taxes; building permits; and other licenses/permits, according to a footnote.

Comparisons to prior years are problematic because the city’s former building permits fund, established in 2011 as an enterprise fund, was closed in FY 2017 and proceeds were rolled into the city’s General Fund.

The recipients of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Design Awards 2018 are:

41st Annual Awards of Excellence

  • Larkin on Memorial, Adaptive Use
  • William R. McCelland Home, Historic Preservation
  • Journey to Freedom,
    PATH400, 1

    This segment of PATH400, between Lenox and Old Ivy roads, attracts folks who want to enjoy a stroll outside. File/Credit: CatMax Photography

    Public Works of Art

  • AMLI 3464, Sustainable Design
  • Kiser Lofts/M.C. Kiser Company Building, Adaptive Use
  • 990 Carmel Avenue, New Construction
  • 1372 Peachtree, Urban Design
  • PATH400, Parks, Landscape Design & Connectivity
  • Tenth & Juniper Highrise, Sustainable Design
  • 1043 Metropolitan Parkway, Historic Rehabilitation
  • Broadstone Midtown, New Construction
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation & Aquatic Center, Interior Design of Public Space
  • Ormond-Grant Park, Parks & Landscape Design
  • 255 Ottley Drive, Adaptive Use

    agape youth and family center

    The Agape Youth and Family Center is a community gathering spot that hosts events such as this session with Atlanta artist Steve Penley. Credit: agapeatlanta.org

Second Annual Community Design Awards

  • Lloyd & Mary Ann Whitaker Building at the Atlanta History Center (NPU B)
  • Agape Youth and Family Center (NPU D)
  • North Highland Mile (NPU F)
  • Adamsville Regional Health Center (NPU H)
  • Quest Community Development (NPU L)
  • Southern Education Foundation (NPU M)
  • Historic Oakland Cemetery (NPU W)
  • Oak Hill Family Center (NPU X)

The awards were presented before a sold-out crowd at Providence Missionary Baptist Church, on Benjamin E. Mays Drive in Southwest Atlanta, according to the online invitation.

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Atlanta commissioned Lynn Marshall Linnemeier to create ‘Journey to Freedom: Women of the Civil Rights Movement,’ as a Freedom Park Pathway Public Art Project. Credit: Kelly Jordan

journey 1

The artwork, ‘Journey to Freedom: Women of the Civil Rights Movement,’ adds a perspective tp Freedom Park Pathway Public Art Project. Credit: Kelly Jordan

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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