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ATL Leaders: Interstellar Architecture, Trees are the Future!

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Last week, Atlanta leaders (many considered mayoral-hopefuls) gathered for a roundtable discussion on the role of design in shaping the future of the city. Hosted by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), participants included Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, at-large Councilmember Mary Norwood, Councilmember Kwanza Hall (Midtown/Downtown/Inman Park) and Councilmember Yolanda Adrean (Buckhead). According to the Saporta Report, the discussion lasted for more than two hours and covered topics from the Beltline to blighted properties. The night was a convivial affair, with the foursome agreeing that trees, transit and planning will all play major roles in Atlanta's future. But then someone mentioned spaceships …

The best quote of the evening came from Council President Mitchell, who seemingly knows a lot about architecture. Asked for his thoughts on the role of city leaders in promoting "pleasing" design, he responded with an entertaining diatribe that bordered on out-of-this-world: "Make it funky. We love funky. I went to Nashville a couple months ago [and] I saw their convention center. It looks like a spaceship. I thought, 'We don't have a spaceship.'" Though really, if we base that notion off of Mitchell's perception of architecture, someone should take him downtown — the Nashville Convention Center was designed by tvsdesign, the folks behind our football-shaped glob, which is pretty much a spawn of the Nashville project. Please, spare Atlanta any more spaceships.

While not everyone hopped aboard the Atlanta-Funkytown Bandwagon, there seemed to be a consensus that Atlanta needs a leader who is willing to embrace design and be a visionary, as the city continues to evolve in the future. If that sentiment is genuine — i.e., not simply pandering to a roomful of architects — then we should all say, "Amen!"