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Atlanta, GA

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Modern Atlanta is most commonly known as the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr, the home of soft drinks giant Coca-Cola and the headquarters of the 24-hour news channel CNN. The city may also remind some of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games with its remnant sites still in the downtown area.

Despite recent additions such as The World of Coca-Cola, the Aquarium and the transition of Georgia State University to a full time campus, some feel the city could still benefit from innovative urban transformations. Last May, the 18th Congress for the New Urbanism took place in the city and brought together experts in the field of urban planning, government policy, and community development to discuss tangible solutions that can support the city in its transition toward more livable environments.

Atlanta, with its rapid growth, has followed a classic American urban model built up around suburban developments and highway systems. One notable presentation from the conference was on “Retrofitting Suburbia” by local academic Ellen Dunham Jones of Georgia Tech.  In her speech she proposes solutions that could change the social and environmental patterns of unsustainable suburban environments such as those that currently dot the Atlanta region.

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Today, media corporations and film studios employ a large number of designers and have created a solid motion graphic design industry in the area. Throughout the years, the city has grown around the field of media and television which places the city as a serious contender alongside New York and Los Angeles. During our visit we spoke with Doug Grimmett from Primal Screen, a multidisciplinary design studio that works for clients such as ABC, CNN, PBS and HBO amongst others, and quizzed him about his city and its future.

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It was clear from our interview that the presence of important corporations and media outlets are enough to draw designers to the city of Atlanta. As will the expansion of the activities of the Museum of Design. Yet it will be interesting to see how designers will continue to play a role in the regeneration of their city and how local culture and history can be more successfully integrated into the urban fabric.

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