Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
Urban fragmentation caused by The Interstate Highway System’s top-down integration into Atlanta’s urban fabric can be redeveloped into a hub of pedestrian use and connectivity. This project seeks to address urban fragmentation by reprogramming existing architectural infrastructure into a symbiotic system of adaptive reuse and new development capable of growing between selected nodes to reclaim the many void spaces left in the wake of The Interstate’s planning and construction. To avoid past failures, we must ask, How can Atlanta’s existing architectural, infrastructural, and cultural capital be redeveloped to convert the divisive urban condition of our city’s roadways into a connective tissue into a new urban promise capable of facilitating meaningful pedestrian interactions? Atlanta’s fragmented pedestrian condition results directly from The Interstate Highway System’s top-down integration through the city’s urban context. Roadways meant to increase mobility & facilitate economic expansion now serve as a means of division & congestion. Discussions around resolving connectivity issues resulting from the interstate’s institutional implementation have been ongoing for decades, with little to no tangible action resulting. The most recent bout of discourse has resulted in procuring a 1.16-million-dollar design budget. While allocating this money is an essential step towards solving the issue of urban segmentation, many of the officials and designers tasked with tackling this issue continue to trek the same tired trails of thought that have led to year after year of inaction. Plan after plan suggests that another mega-urban project is the final solution to Atlanta’s roadway issue. Like introducing one invasive species to limit the population of another, these mega projects seek to undo the top-down errors of the past century with new “well-intentioned” top-down developments. The leading proposal is an urban stitch project centered around capping the interstate with public green space and redeveloping adjacent properties into private urban developments. This thesis seeks to argue that challenges endemic to infrastructural fragmentation can be reconstituted to meet the needs of today’s public. Through parameter-based reprogramming, existing architectural infrastructure can be synthesized into a symbiotic system of adaptive reuse & new development capable of growing between selected nodes to reclaim void spaces created by the interstate rather than simply covering up past mistakes with more of the same top-down policies. The parameters guiding this “multifunctional” system will focus on maximizing the ecological, cultural, and aesthetic benefits of its formal, spatial, and programmatic outputs. James Corner’s infrastructural adaptive reuse projects go beyond aesthetics to craft landscapes with ecological, social, and economic benefits, as is seen in the flagship NYC project Highline. Building on this framework, the result of this thesis will be a design system distilled from existing structures in proximity to the interstate. These existing structures will serve as physical and theoretical anchor points for in filling the void left by the roadway with new inhabitable construction. To test my hypothesis, I selected the stretch of Atlanta’s downtown connector, where Peachtree Street crosses the interstate. Once a crucial transitional zone between Atlanta’s midtown & downtown, this urban condition now serves as a hard-edge segregating two of the city’s most vibrant programmatic sectors. In step with the methodology of this thesis, three pertinent structures have been selected to serve as anchor points for redevelopment. The chosen structures are the Atlanta Medical Arts Building, Civic Center MARTA Station, & Peachtree on Pine Homeless Shelter.