Atlanta BeltLine Included in Exhibit on Socially Responsible Design at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is currently presenting the third exhibit in its series on socially responsible design. “By the People, Designing a Better America” explores the challenges faced by urban, suburban, and rural communities in the U.S. and its bordering countries. It is on view through February 26, 2017. Divided into six themes, the Atlanta BeltLine is represented under “SAVE.”

The Atlanta BeltLine materials on display at the left of this image as part of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum's "By the People: Designing a Better America." Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution
The Atlanta BeltLine materials on display at the left of this image as part of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum’s “By the People: Designing a Better America.” Photo: Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution

Below is an excerpt from the press release:

By building on existing assets – culture, natural and built environments – design can help save what is authentic and essential for communities to thrive. The projects on view in this section include the Harlem Hospital Pavilion Façade, New York, which celebrates the building’s historically significant Works Progress Administration murals at a civic scale and establishes a strong community connection; Belt Line Atlanta, a grassroots effort to save and transform four old rail lines into a 22-mile green loop that will connect 40 diverse neighborhoods with transit lines, walking trails, bike paths, parks and adjacent permanent affordable housing; and the LaSalle Cultural Corridor, which helps to preserve one of New Orleans’ indigenous cultural art forms through the revitalization of a major street in the historically significant Central City neighborhood.

Organized by Cynthia E. Smith, Cooper Hewitt’s curator of socially responsible design, the exhibition features 60 design projects from every region across the U.S.

Smith conducted more than two years of field research – traveling from shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metro regions, struggling rural towns, along border regions, areas impacted by natural and man-made disaster and places of persistent poverty – in search of collaborative designs for more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities. The exhibition will highlight design solutions that expand access to education, food, health care and affordable housing; increase social and economic inclusion; offer improved alternative transportation options; and provide a balanced approach to land use between the built and natural environment.

“As America’s design museum, Cooper Hewitt empowers visitors to see themselves as designers – not just of objects, but also of ideas, strategies and solutions that improve our daily lives,” said Director Caroline Baumann. “‘By the People’ will showcase the innovative and impactful actions generated through design, and inspire creative problem-solving at local, regional, national and even international levels.”

Additional themes include ACT, SHARE, LIVE, LEARN, and MAKE.

Cooper Hewitt is publishing a 256-page companion book to the exhibition, By the People: Designing a Better America. In addition to illustrative project profiles, the book includes essays and interviews with featured designers and architects. The retail cost of the book is $29.95.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit or call 212-849-8400. Click here to view Cooper Hewitt’s full press release.

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