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UPDATED: Underground Atlanta to launch tech-based art initiative as redevelopment lingers

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Expect an “Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence-based” art installation, whatever that means

Concrete pillars decorated with public art jut up from the street level at Underground Atlanta.
The Pillar Project from last year spruced up 16 exhaust vents on Upper Alabama Street.
Zephaniah Peterson, via Underground Atlanta

Update: A WRS spokesperson sent the following statement to Curbed Atlanta: “We have so much planning/design/permitting happening in conjunction with getting systems replaced and/or back to code in many of the older parts of [Underground Atlanta] that you can’t see from above ground. It is imperative that these are not only done in the right order, but also that each move fits into the bigger picture of the four-block redevelopment.”

When exactly Atlantans will start to notice substantial redevelopment activity at Underground Atlanta is anyone’s guess, but the site’s owner will soon kick off another initiative to help beautify and enliven the massive downtown property that for years has been little more than a ghost town.

Last August, South Carolina-based developer WRS announced it had enlisted four Atlanta artists to spruce up 16 exhaust vents on Upper Alabama Street with designs that speak to Atlanta’s culture of diversity and inclusivity.

Now, the developer is gearing up to debut another creative endeavor, which is expected to deliver an “Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence-based local-to-global art installation,” according to a WRS press release.

A rendering of people walking in a retail corridor with glassy storefronts and blue sky overhead.
What Kenny’s Alley could look like some day.
Rendering courtesy of S9 Architecture

A tech-focused creative nonprofit called Urban Catalyst Lab is leading the charge, aiming to craft “an inclusive and visionary experience spotlighting the community’s most pressing issues.”

Details of the project remain scant, but WRS says Urban Catalyst Lab has recruited a roster of creatives from Atlanta and around the world to tackle the project. Their names will be revealed at a launch event planned for next Tuesday at Underground.

“Together with three Atlanta-based artists, and two from Africa and Cuba (Afro Cuban), we invite the entire community of Atlanta to participate in creating a permanent art installation that captures Atlanta’s identity—its heritage, present, and future,” said Ruxanda Renita, CEO of Urban Catalyst Lab, per the release.

a collage of images depicting the new street art
Images from the Pillar Project.
Underground Atlanta

Although it might be tough to imagine what an IoT- or AI-based art installation would look like, officials say it would be constantly evolving based on real-time community imput.

“The sculpture will be cutting-edge, embedding pioneer IoT and machine learning to provide much-needed data about the impact of the installation to urban resilience and sustainability,” added Christophe Choquart, CFO of Urban Catalyst Lab.

The installation is slated to kick off in 2020 on Lower Alabama Street.

In the meantime, many Atlantans will continue to tap their feet—the five- to seven-year process “won’t happen overnight,” said a WRS spokesperson—in anticipation of Underground’s long-touted evolution.

The development has wooed the iconic Masquerade music venue, which was previously in Old Fourth Ward, and plans call for a new movie theater and grocery store, among other must-haves for a major mixed-use build.

Underground Atlanta

50 Upper Alabama Street, , GA 30303