Transit-Oriented Development: An Urban Design Assessment of Transit Stations in Atlanta
Braswell, Allen Daniel, II
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In the late 1980s, Peter Calthorpe reintroduced and codified the idea of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). While other designers and planners had supported similar ideas, it was Calthorpe, who popularized and coined the concept of TODs when he authored “The New American Metropolis in 1993 (Carlton 2007). He further developed and expanded the notion in the “The Regional City” 2001 and “Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change” 2011. He viewed TODs as the holistic alternative to sprawl (Calthorpe, The New Amercian Metropolis 1993), not only providing a pleasant and walkable neighborhood, but also providing an economic, ecological, and social foundation for regional development. Calthorpe helped inspire a new generation to think about sustainability and environment, and helped launch ‘sustainability’ as the defining goal of many ecological efforts (Calthorpe Associates 2013). Around the same time he authored “The New American Metropolis,” he co-founded the Congress of New Urbanism (CNU), an “organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities, and healthier living conditions” (Congressfor New Urbanism 2012). Along with the design beliefs of CNU, his concept of TODs, and vision for regional growth, Calthorpe helped transform design and planning in America and redefined the ‘American Dream’. This paper will examine the potential for Atlanta’s MARTA stations to develop as TODs, according to commonly held definitions of TODs, especially to the work of Peter Calthorpe. First, this paper will define TODs, by reviewing Calthorpe’s writings and projects and other work situated with TOD research and practice. Second, based on this definition of TODs, this paper will analyze the prospects for creating TODs at MARTA stations. This will be answered in two stages. First, a brief review of each station, based upon MARTA’s existing research and analysis and surrounding situations – existing built up areas, undeveloped areas, uses, demographics, and environment. Second, I will perform my own analysis based upon urban morphology and walkability. I will then use this result to determine the ability of each station to support TOD development, as it currently exists. This paper is to serve as a foundation for MARTA and the Atlanta region to build upon in developing smart growth strategies, incorporating TODs, as a viable alternative to current sprawl development patterns.