Learning Architecture And Planning In The Land Of Suburbia

<p>Ellen Dunham-Jones, director of the architecture program at Georgia Tech, thinks architects and planners need to understand suburbia better before they can begin the work of retrofitting our sprawling development patterns towards smart growth.</p>
August 1, 2007, 6am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"Architect Ellen Dunham-Jones is focused on what she calls the "in between."

It sounds creepy, but that's where most of us live. It's also called suburbia.

Dunham-Jones, 48, is co-writing a book called "Retrofitting Suburbs," opining when asked to on big metro-area projects, and brainstorming with her students at Georgia Tech about making Atlanta more livable through smart design. Atlantic Station in Midtown and the Beltline redevelopment proposal both started as student theses at Tech.

Dunham-Jones is director of Tech's architecture program."

"I moved to Atlanta on a mission ... how to relate architecture to suburbia, to this in-between - neither really city nor really nature. I didn't like that the next generation was looking like it was going to grow up just as clueless and just as detached from the majority of buildings as my generation was. Roughly 90 percent of what we're building is in the suburbs. The architectural schools in general don't feel engaged with it. They don't feel this is the architecture we aspire to. So they just tend to ignore it. We're just perpetuating, then, this landscape being developed without the best design. Atlanta is our laboratory. We have every problem and every opportunity to study and investigate here."

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Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2007 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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