Parking Lots for People

I have not been a full time student at Georiga Tech since Spring of 2006 but I go back for a class here or there, to work on my thesis at the Center for GIS, and to play soccer. Like so many college campuses it is constantly the site of large demolition and construction projects. However, the largess of a university along with the prime real estate and the tenure of their stay can sometimes produce pleasantly surprising results. One project know as the Georgia Tech Eco Commons continuously came up in my planning classes. The idea was to uncover a creek (now covered by a parking deck, roads, and a common lawn) that originally ran through campus and reinstate the riparian habitat linearly through campus, partially to help with stormwater. This might be far off into the future but other such projects have moved along swiftly.

The most apparent example for me has been the conversion of the parking lots that previously served the College of Architecture and another building. About a year ago I noticed that all the asphalt had been pulled up and dirt was being smoothed. It turned out that they were preparing the space for sod and not for a repaving. I was surprised that the parking lots could even be closed let alone discontinued. Of course it wasn’t that people were just going to start other ways to get to school and give up their cars, that would be too good. See, since I was there on a daily basis one of the new, large, and extremely fancy buildings has been finished and the parking for the College of Architecture and the other building have been moved into the underground parking deck below this new structure.

Nonetheless this is an impressive display of taking action to reverse previous development and reclaim space from the auto and return it to the people. Sure there are still fences up while they finish things up but I can’t wait to walk by on the first great spring day and see classes out there having discussions.

Georgia Tech’s Capital Planning & Space Management
Eco Commons Draft Plan

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