By Maria Saporta
After spending more than seven years with the Perkins + Wills architectural firm, Ryan Gravel has decided to blaze his own trail once again.
Gravel is best known for writing his Master’s Thesis on a potential transformation of a 22-mile rail corridor surrounding central Atlanta – a project now known as the Atlanta BeltLine.
Gravel sent an email to his friends and associates Thursday saying he had formed his own firm – Sixpitch.
“I’ve been chasing the Atlanta BeltLine for nearly 16 years, and today I’m excited to announce the next chapter in that journey – a new small consultancy called Sixpitch,” Gravel wrote in the email.
“It will allow me to be more agile in my chase to unlock the project’s potential, explore related challenges like equity, politics and regional vision, and also translate ideas from our story to a national audience.”
Gravel then encouraged folks to go to his website: www.ryangravel.com, to watch an 11-second launch video on Sixpitch as well as read his latest blog post – “You deserve better infrastructure.”
Gravel had been an urban designer and senior associate with Perkins + Will since March 2008.
He has been a regular speaker at events talking about how he started working on the concept of the BeltLine when he was a student at Georgia Tech.
In 1999 and 2000, Gravel sent copies of his idea to various City Council representatives, and then-City Council President Cathy Woolard became enamored with the idea.
After she left office, she encouraged Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin to take ownership of the development of the Atlanta BeltLine. Franklin formed the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board that helped raise money for the endeavor, and the mayor also established a new public agency within the city called Atlanta BeltLine Inc.
When the opportunity became available, Franklin was able to get the city to acquire a key section of the BeltLine – the Eastside trail – from Gwinnett developer Wayne Mason.
Today, the city controls more than half of the 22-mile corridor. Gravel continues to be actively involved in the Atlanta BeltLine’s design and development issues.