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Opinions: Weave New Falcons Roost Into City, Neighborhoods

What's the over-under that the all-but-inevitable new Atlanta Falcons Stadium is an imposing, monolithic structure surrounded by seas of parking lots? City boosters and urban-design wonks are calling on the city to buck its tendency for erecting stadiums (read: Turner Field) in ways that separate them from surrounding neighborhoods and business districts. As outlined by the Saporta Report in a three-part series, the forces behind the roughly $1 billion project have the opportunity to right the socioeconomic wrongs created by the fortress-like Georgia Dome two decades ago. The city "actually has the tools in its tool box to advocate for world-class design," Saporta writes. "The Atlanta Urban Design Commission and the Department of Planning can be reinvigorated to help the mayor achieve his dream of a beautiful city at street level and above."

Saporta posits that "turning the Northside (Drive) and Martin Luther King roadways into iconic boulevards is a good place to start" in historical neighborhoods where populations have plummeted by two-thirds since the Dome's completion. She notes that, when the Georgia World Congress Center Authority approved the stadium deal last week, it added a representative from Invest Atlanta — meaning, in essence, the city will have a say in how the stadium interfaces with its neighbors.

The site quotes Brian McGowan, president of Invest Atlanta, as being critical of the "monolith" model that's cut off from the community at large. "There are great stadium designs around the world that are very open and feel like they are part of the neighborhood," McGowan told the site. "It's really about integrating the stadium into the fabric of the whole community ? (the) design can be used to feel like it's connected to Centennial Olympic Park, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Castleberry (Hill), Vine City, English Avenue and the multimodal station."

Next quoted is Benjamin Flowers, a Georgia Tech professor of architecture, who recently told the Atlanta City Council: "Don't put the stadium in a sea of parking ? You have a unique opportunity to develop around the urban core."

How much faith do you have that the Falcons, GWCC and city can collaborate to right the stadium-design wrongs of yesteryear? Or do you expect a stadium marooned by tailgater-friendly parking lots that adds little to the city's overall fabric on non-game days?

· Revive communities by designing new Falcons stadium on a human scale [Saporta Report]
· Future plans for the GA Dome [AJC]