To the average city dweller, the idea of a city oriented around transportation in cars, and especially privately owned cars carrying one or a few people, would have been incomprehensible. Indeed, the modern idea of a street as an artery, existing primarily to convey vehicles, would have been foreign. Streets were more like parks, used by streetcars, horses, cars, and pedestrians, but also as playgrounds and gathering places.
Atlanta has changed at an unbelievable speed, like in a nature film when a tree grows in five seconds. It reveals some of the most critical shifts in architecture/urbanism of the past 15 years, the most important being the shift from center to the periphery, and beyond. No city illustrates this shift, its reasons and its potentials, better than Atlanta. In fact, Atlanta has shifted so quickly and so completely that the center/edge opposition is no longer the point. There is no center, therefore no periphery. Atlanta is now a centerless city, or a city with a potentially infinite number of centers. In that way, Atlanta is like LA, but LA is always urban; Atlanta is sometimes post-urban.
[Atlanta does not exhibit] urbanism - which somehow suggests a minimum amount of steering … [it proposes] disurbanism, which in the twenties, described a branch of constructivist urban theory aimed at dissolving the city.
Atlanta does not have the classical symptoms of a city; it is not dense; it is a sparse, thin carpet of habitation, a kind of suprematist composition of little fields. Its strongest contextual givens are vegetal and infrastructural: forests and roads. Atlanta is not a city; it is a landscape.
Sometimes it is important to find out what the city is - instead of what it was, or what it should be. That is what drove me to Atlanta - an intuition that the real city of the end of the 20th century could be found there.