Atlanta Beltline creator--and urban planner and designer--Ryan Gravel has recently published his wonderful new book: Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities. The book is multi-faceted and covers lots of ground. One of its fine chapters explores the concept of "expandable visions," citing an extensive excerpt (on p. 126) by famous Chicago city planner, Daniel Burnham:
"Make no little plans. They have not magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our [children] and [grandchildren] are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big."
Like Burnham, Gravel, and his ambitious Atlanta Beltline, Lab Atlanta also thinks big, and makes no little plans. Our core faculty for Lab Atlanta's inaugural year has been assembled, and is posted under the "Who We Are" link on the Lab Atlanta website. We are currently enrolling our first cohort of students, and will continue to offer admission to additional qualified applicants on a rolling basis over the next several months. Then, in January 2017, we will open our school doors in Midtown for our initial semester next spring.
Our vision for Lab Atlanta shares much in common with the premise of Gravel's Georgia Tech thesis that originally envisioned the Beltline. So perhaps it is fitting to quote Gravel again (from p. 88), in reflecting on how and why the Atlanta Beltline emerged so successfully from the germ of his "curious and unassuming" scholarly exercise:
...our success so far makes a powerful case for academic environments everywhere to be nurseries for ideas about the future. Unrestrained by budgets, politics, physics, or technology, students are empowered to be inventive and to develop big ideas that solve real problems. They are free to make proposals without knowing all the answers; actually, not knowing is a key to their strength because they are able to imagine things that many of us rarely see anymore....In fact, there may be no better place to take risks, develop ideas, or articulate a larger ambition for our lives or for the world.
Amen, Mr. Gravel! Amen....