Architecture reflects our values

BY WILLIAM DE ST. AUBIN (As published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on May 8, 2015) DEAN ROHRER / NEWSART We are as a region proud of our growing focus on sustainability and our increasing emphasis on creating a healthy sense of place in our cities and towns. The two priorities are intertwined. Just as we are stewards of natural and economic resources, we should think of ourselves as stewards of our built environment. If we are to continue our progress toward an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable future, we must have greater public engagement in architecture, which brings together these concerns. (We’re going to need more architects, too.) “We shape our buildings,” Winston Churchill famously said, “thereafter they shape us.” Today we can expand on that to say we also mold our neighborhoods, towns and cities — and thereafter they influence us. It is up to us to shape the places in which we live. It is heartening to see we’re headed in the right direction as a region; the revitalization of our urban cores, campuses and town centers is beginning to reflect a new set of values. The integration of design and city life represents a shift of emphasis and priority to the public realm. From the Atlanta Beltline to city centers in Woodstock, Duluth, Kennesaw and elsewhere, we’re seeing a celebration of public places and how our built environment forms them. We’re even seeing a blossoming and a wonderful blurring of public and private realms in healthy, inclusive ways as we connect these places with trails, outdoor cafes, lineal greens and terraces. Like most success, this focus on...