Clean Slate Project: Brainstorming


If you are going to build a world-class city from raw land, where do you start?

Tough question.

I think you start with problems. I would ask “What are the problems facing this hypothetical city and how can we use design and smart construction to solve them?”

And if you are going to truly create an exceptional city that is the model of new urban design, you cannot limit yourselves to the current problems facing the city. Let’s break it down this way:

What problems has this city/region/area faced in the past that have been overcome and how did they overcome them?

What problems are currently plaguing the city and how would a better-designed city solve those problems?

What potential problems will this city (and all cities) face in the future that can be avoided or minimized through intelligent planning?


To paraphrase Andy Stanley: “Given its past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams, what is the ideal layout and design of this city?”


Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit and work from there. What are our current problems and how can design solve them?

As I see it, Atlanta’s three major issues are: transportation, water, and education. At least two of those are addressable by smart urban planning and the eduction will follow since smart people will want to live where there is great transportation and clean water.

I’m not going to get into transportation and water solutions just yet, but I think the important message to take away from this part of the thought experiment is that we need the help and expertise of water management and rapid transit professionals. Fresh water sources and the intricacies of rapid transit are not my area of expertise. We need outside counsel.

So, jumping back to 30,000 feet and just as a heads up for future editions of this series, I plan on tackling this project as follows:

1. Figure out Atlanta’s problems or shortcomings and devise a plan to fix or preempt them.

2. Figure out what experts and industry leaders would be best qualified to answer those questions.

3. Interview them.

4. Extensively.

5. Design the new urban frontier based on their suggestions and recommendations.

6. Find a way to sketch or model the new city layout and design.

7. Share it with whoever is interested.


Maybe nobody will be interested. But I am interested and this seems like a fun way to get to talk to some very intelligent people about our fair city. I plan on having fun with this.

I am certainly open to any suggestions about how to tackle this project, ideas to consider, experts to consult, ways to make it readable, or whatever. Feel free to leave comments or feedback below.

– Duke


Leave a Reply

    No Twitter Messages