18th Congress for New Urbanism comes to Atlanta

The 18th Congress of New Urbanism (CNU) conference is being held at the Hilton hotel in downtown Atlanta this week (May 19 – 22). This national conference occurs in a different city annually, and is known as a leading venue for new urbanist education, collaboration, and networking. CNU members come from around the world to attend the conference and discuss development practices and public policies, learn from recent innovative work, and advance new initiatives and community changing strategies.

This conference was brought together by numerous Atlanta partners, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, AARP, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Central Atlanta Progress, The Coca-Cola Company and Sustainable Cities Institute of The Home Depot Foundation in a collaborative effort to deal with how we can make our communities more economically healthy, sustainable, diverse and livable for people of all ages.

The sessions and forums at the Congress focus on achieving effective strategies for designing communities in a manner that promotes walkability and bikability, thus enabling healthier, active lifestyles. While conversations cover issues ranging from housing affordability to transportation planning to water conservation to community building, CNU’s message promotes shaping the built environment to improve both communities and lifestyle.

CNU’s Atlanta chapter also published a book for the conference, and I highly recommend checking it out. Titled Building Metropolitan Atlanta: Past, Present & Future, this book takes a comprehensive look at the region’s evolution, its current challenges, and the many recent and planned efforts to address them.

While many recognize that Atlanta has been a traditional poster child for sprawling unsustainable development in the past, this book does a remarkable job of highlighting the other side of the Atlanta region – a region that serves as a showcase to many successful, problem-solving new urbanist developments while being grounded by livable historic neighborhoods.

Essays in the book’s opening Perspectives section address overarching themes such as Atlanta as a mega-region; calculating health impacts of a major infrastructure project; agricultural urbanism; lifelong communities; and reviving the center city. The book then goes on to profile several dozen historic and still (or once again) thriving towns and neighborhoods, and to describe more than 40 recent and planned Atlanta area projects that embody the principles of sustainability and new urbanism. 

You can download the PDF of the book for $10, or purchase a hard copy for $50, at lulu.com. This book would truly make a great addition to your office or home, and will remind you of why Atlanta is a special place, rich with culture and charm.

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