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Savannah, GA


A 4-hour drive from Atlanta takes us to Savannah, a time capsule of southern charm and hospitality. The city has beautifully preserved its historic buildings and green areas, and most interestingly has also been transformed by the presence of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). The involvement of young artists and designers in this historic city creates an unusual mix of old and new narratives.


SCAD is a creative education empire established in 1978 that now counts four campuses in three different countries and over 9000 students. Walking around in Savannah, one can only notice the overwhelming presence of SCAD and the instrumental role it has played in restoring the historic districts. The School of Fibers is located in a building from 1906 that used to serve as a military hospital during the Civil War. SCAD’s main auditorium is located in a former high school building built in 1920. A former warehouse built in 1956 houses the industrial design department. The School of Film is located in an old power station originally built in 1894.

MIX_36SA5 SCAD turned historic Savannah into a energetic platform for the young generation. Its dominating presence in the city has caused a few stirs however the benefits brought by the school have most certainly helped save many failing buildings and neighborhoods.

Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale 2010

stetienne Cities x Design is going international. The first stop is in Saint-Etienne, France to explore the 2010 Biennale. Now in its 8th iteration the Saint-Etienne Design Biennale explores not only the commercial but also the philosophical and conceptual impacts of design on society.

Video Presentation at Cumulus 2010 Shanghai Conference

This video presentation of our Cities x Design project premiered in Shanghai, China as part of the Better City & Better Life Conference at the World Expo 2010. It was the only project that discussed the role of creative entrepreneurs in North American cities. Watch the video here.

Atlanta’s Primal Screen

primalscreenDoug Grimmet, Founder, Primal Screen talks to Cities x Design about the booming growth of the broadcast design industry and why Atlanta ranks among the nation’s largest employers in this dynamic sector.

Atlanta, GA


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.


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.


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.


We are Young Monster

youngmonsterCities x Design spoke with Nick and Alison of Young Monster design in Chattanooga, TN about their experience of transforming an idea and passion for making posters into a full blown business. This is a great story of creative entrepreneurship and the sheer will to survive.

CreateHere in Chattanooga

createhereHelen Johnson and Josh McManus of CreateHere in Chattanooga, TN, talk with Cities x Design about nurturing the creative economy in their city. Their discussion touches on the innovative non-profit model of their organization, how they meet staffing challenges and the advantages of being privately funded.

Chattanooga, TN


Chattanooga is a small town hidden at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. This former river commerce hub has, like many other places, experienced the negative impact of de-industrialization and is today looking at creative solutions to boost its image. The opening of Volkswagen’s $1 billion manufacturing plant in 2011, should help with Chattanooga’s population growth and economic vitality.


Designer collectives such as Young Monster work on the promotion of music bands and feed the local creative scene that is slowly taking shape. Thanks to the support of Create Here, many creative enterprises find the support to launch their businesses and contribute to the city’s social and cultural life. Their fellowship program entitled Lead Here encourages young people to take action in their own community.


The Curry Stone Design Prize

mohneyDavid Mohney talks with Cities x Design about The Curry Stone Design Prize for socially relevant design. He also touches on the architectural history of Louisville and the important role designers play in local communities.

The Green Building


Augusta and Gill Holland wanted something innovative and ambitious for Louisville so they took a 110 year-old masonry structure in the heart of the city’s arts district and decided to turn it into the first commercial building with a LEED platinum certification.

The Green Building is a model of architectural preservation with a modern core: an authentic masonry structure, natural lighting, eco-friendly materials, renewable energy systems, solar panels, geothermal wells and most original of all, a recycled denim insulation. This marvel of green architecture was conceived by Doug Pierson from FER Studios.


With 15,000 square foot of mixed-use space, the building houses a restaurant that serves food from local farms (732 Social), an art gallery, event and office spaces. It also boasts an indoor-outdoor courtyard, an urban farm, and a green wall vertical garden.


3 Months and 14,000 Miles

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