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Atlanta BeltLine Originator Explores ‘Where We Want To Live’

FILE- In this Nov. 20, 2012 file photo, a couple walks along the Atlanta BeltLine as the midtown skyline stands in the background in Atlanta. The Atlanta BeltLine is an urban redevelopment project that aims to turn an old 22-mile railroad corridor that rings the city’s in-town neighborhoods into a network of trails, parks, affordable housing and, eventually, transit. So far, only the 2.2-mile Eastside Trail has opened, with skyline views and regularly changing public art installations providing added scenery for those who walk, bike and jog along the path. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
FILE- In this Nov. 20, 2012 file photo, a couple walks along the Atlanta BeltLine as the midtown skyline stands in the background in Atlanta. The Atlanta BeltLine is an urban redevelopment project that aims to turn an old 22-mile railroad corridor that rings the city’s in-town neighborhoods into a network of trails, parks, affordable housing and, eventually, transit. So far, only the 2.2-mile Eastside Trail has opened, with skyline views and regularly changing public art installations providing added scenery for those who walk, bike and jog along the path. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Ryan Gravel wants to make infrastructure sexy.

The designer and urban planner joined “In Conversation” host Valerie Jackson at the Carter Center to talk about projects in Atlanta and around the country that are getting residents to take notice and get engaged with the environment of the city.

One of those projects just happens to have come from Gravel’s own head. His 1999 Georgia Tech master’s thesis became the basis for the Atlanta BeltLine.

Now, as that project is transforming the city, Gravel has released a book, “Where We Want To Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities.”

In it, he discusses the relationship between people and the places they live, covering both his own BeltLine project and other transformative developments such as the Los Angeles River and Houston’s Buffalo Bayou. Though the BeltLine’s design, planning and execution may be a complicated, years-long effort, Gravel asserts that at heart, it’s a simple idea.

“You’re taking this railroad that’s a barrier between neighborhoods that historically were one side of the tracks and the other side of the tracks,” he says, “and you’re transforming it into this common meeting ground. And there’s something really powerful about that.”

This program originally aired Sunday, April 10