Inside the Atlanta City Studio at Ponce City Market.

By Clare S. Richie

Intown residents, design professionals and curious urbanists are encouraged to stop by Ponce City Market in the Old Fourth Ward and visit Atlanta City Studio. The pop-up studio is the place to learn about and give input on the city’s plan for projected the population growth of 1.3 million residents by 2050 and other projects.

“Atlanta City Studio is essentially a retail location for the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development that’s highly accessible,” Department of Planning and Community Development Commissioner Tim Keane said. “It’s a place for the community to engage in the design and future of the city.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Kasim Reed’s office launched the Atlanta City Design Project, led by Atlanta BeltLine originator Ryan Gravel. The project will create a framework for how Atlanta can grow equitably and sustainably while maintaining its core character.

Staffed by a team of city planners, architects and transportation professionals, “the studio is one of the primary locations for Atlanta City Design Project. We have very organized ways for people to provide input,” Keane said.

Residents look at ideas for growth on clipboards stationed around the studio.

So, next time you are at Ponce City Market head to the Atlanta City Studio, located on the second floor across from Elk Head Clothing to see the latest urban design concepts, rotating exhibits about Atlanta neighborhoods, and give your feedback.

What can you expect when you stop by?

“There’s always a greeter to welcome you and answer questions. There are interactive exhibits – like the wall of clipboard questions posed by Ryan Gravel. He reads all the written comments.” Jodi Mansbach, who oversees Atlanta City Studio, shared.

Or you may wish to attend one of the many events hosted in the studio – lectures, book talks, film series, open forums, and more.

The Book Club, which meets the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., explores how urban design and planning classics and the latest titles apply to Atlanta. RSVP to

There’s also Good Urbanism 101: Ten Lessons for Designing Cities, which meets the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m.). Sponsored by the UPS Foundation, The Georgia Conservancy offers a free 90-minute seminar on urban design history, principles and current practices with an emphasis on walkability, alternative transportation, and sustainability.

Design Over Doughnuts (DoD) meets the second and fourth Friday of the month from 8 to 9 a.m. All are welcome to join the studio team in a casual conversation about design in Atlanta and other model cities.

At the Sept. 9 DoD, about 20 attendees that included Keane, Gravel, students, community members, architects, real estate brokers, planners, and urban designers, discussed “large urban parks.”

Commissioner Tim Keane discusses parks with members of the community during a recent meeting at the studio.

The conversation started with Chastain Park. At 268 acres, it’s the city’s largest park with many programmed activities like concerts, golf, tennis, and baseball. Realtor Keith Sharp talked about the possibility of a new larger park along the Chattahoochee River called Riverwalk Atlanta Park. The vision is a linear park along a 5-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee – from Marietta Boulevard to Hollowel Parkway. Similar parks exist in Chattanooga and Nashville.

Tilly Hatcher with Provision Project brought up well-used New York City Parks – Bryant Park and Prospect Park – surrounded by high-density housing without backyards. Ryan Yurcaba with Historical Concepts, mentioned Frick Park in Pittsburgh. This park is 400 acres in a historic neighborhood with a cemetery similar to Oakland Cemetery and a trail system. The conversation also included the importance of the separation of public and private space, transportation to the park, and park safety’s correlation to “eyes on the park.”

The Atlanta City Studio will remain at Ponce City Market through the end of 2016. In January 2017 it will relocate for the next six months to a retail location on the Westside, possibly on MLK Jr. Drive or Cascade Road. Moving locations is intentional to encourage residents throughout the city to access the studio and their voice to the city planning process.

For more information you can follow Atlanta City Studio on Facebook at

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.