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Karen Huebner open to next step after being laid off as head of Atlanta Urban Design Commission

It’s been a little more than three months since Karen Huebner, a casualty of the city of Atlanta’s cutbacks, “retired” as executive director of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission.

Huebner, 60, and I had lunch today to talk about her life since leaving the city and her plans for the future.

“I would be interested in part-time work,” said Huebner, who is enjoying a more stress-free life. “I’m leaving my options open.”

Huebner has had a few careers. She worked at a library as a researcher. She worked as a paralegal at a law firm. And before becoming head of the Urban Design Commission 20 years ago, she worked for the N.Y. Landmark Commission.

“I’m looking into what occupation I might revisit,” she said.

Meanwhile, she has gone on the board of Easements Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that accepts façade preservation easement donations in the city of Atlanta. And she is doing other volunteer work.

Huebner, who has always been reserved in her comments about the inner-workings of the city, preferred not discussing the state of urban design and preservation in Atlanta.

She did say she is interested in seeing which architectural team is selected to design the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

And she’s learning to adjust to being retired five years earlier than she had planned.

“This happened for a reason,” Huebner said of her departure from the city. Looking back on her life, she has seen that setbacks can lead to opportunity.

Unfortunately, her departure from the city does leave a void in our desire to be a well-designed city with sensitive urban design

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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