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Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Atlanta, GA

Cornell University
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Team Leader
Marc Miller, MLA, MArch, Lecturer, Department of Architecture

Leading Discipline
Landscape Architecture

Other Disciplines
Architecture, City and Regional Planning, Natural Resources, Geography, Ecology

5, Graduate Level

Studio Research

View studio documentation.

(Re)Create Flux: The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area as Park Prototype

The Challenge

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area is a linear park stretching 48 miles along the Chattahoochee Riverótaking in urban and suburban areas, dramatically diverse user groups, and a visitorship of three to four million thatís set to grow in the coming years. Containing 70% of the public green space for the Atlanta region, the park and its river also supply water for six million people and provide critical natural and ecological infrastructure. The challenge presented to the studio team was to provide visual and physical continuity for this long, linear waterway while addressing the need for improved access, better commercial services, visitor safety and education, and an expanding park audience across the metropolitan region.

Studio Approach

Cornell's proposal explores dynamic overlays between seemingly incongruous conditions to reveal a place-responsive landscape. The project offers five proposals which serve as prototypes for the next iteration of the park, as well as other national recreation areas within the NPS system, to transform them into landscapes that engage policy, culture, ecology, and economics as dynamic components of a shared national resource.

Key Features

The five proposals each offer a unique response to the park's challenges. Lodge, Camp, Park offers food-vending and lodging facilities, while Ebb, Flow, Energize and Pulse of the River focus on reconfiguring the mud flats and reporting water quality at critical watershed points, creating a new landscape with embedded metrics. Fluid Relics focuses on the ruins of a paper mill as the site of an architectural intervention. Finally, Unit 16 is a mobile amenity linking the park to communities without immediate access. As a mobile unit emulating park conditions, it becomes a roving educational device for NPS, introducing the park to disadvantaged communities.

Jury Comments

The Cornell team truly found a common park design framework, which allowed them to explore the river corridor's unique attributes and constituent demands. The boards clearly illustrate how the river systems translate into sub-sheds and intersect with adjacent urban landscapes. The studio persuasively demonstrates the riverís natural and social reach, foregrounding a working planning vocabulary and design principles that can be used to transform the stream into Atlantaís regional identity.