Blueprints: Victory Square Savannah
Since January, the Georgia Conservancy’s Sustainable Growth program has worked with a graduate studio from Georgia Tech’s College of Design to consider possible future scenarios for an area within the City of Savannah.
Through our Blueprints for Successful Communities, a 23-year-old sustainable community design initiative, the Georgia Conservancy uses a community and sustainability-based approach to directing community development and redevelopment. The effort’s history is strongly rooted in transparent and thorough stakeholder engagement. The Blueprints process is one of the most highly respected planning processes in the state because of its inclusiveness, transparency, and technical quality.
This Blueprints studio, led by Professor Richard Dagenhart, has examined the many challenges of the Victory Square neighborhoods, located just outside of the Historic Savannah districts. While not unlike the challenges of other neighborhoods —the area is faced with the need to re-purpose infrastructure, especially urban highways, arterial roads, and subsurface storm and sanitary sewer systems - there is the need to retrofit auto-dominated districts, and this part of Savannah, like all of Georgia, and especially our coast, must consider the implications of climate change and, specifically, a change in water conditions. Climate change, sea level rise and stormwater are combining to threaten the future of much of this built environment.
The Truman Parkway, built on top of the Casey Canal, not only disrupts natural water processes, but also creates unsolvable traffic congestion at the Victory Drive exit and encourages typical strip commercial re-zonings that threaten the historic Victory Drive. The shopping centers and related strip commercial uses have made any other form of transportation impossible. Here, the car dominates.
These challenges for the Victory Square neighborhoods cannot be solved in the coming months, or years or even the in the next decade. The important need is for a vision – expansive in its possibilities, but linked to decisions and actions that will happen tomorrow and beyond. In that way, this studio is a research project – research and design, design and research.
Georgia Conservancy and the graduate students have been working with resident representatives as well as Smart Growth Savannah on this effort. A presentation of approximately five potential future visions developed through the studio will be presented to the community during the week of May 14, 2018. The student team ideas each have their own emphasis points for addressing many area challenges, but common themes include: learning to live with water, addressing both water quality and quantity, returning some level of ecological services to the area, smaller blocks for future redevelopment, and injecting greater mobility and housing choice into the area.
The graduate studio will present their work at the Congress for New Urbanism’s 2018 annual Congress in Savannah on Friday, May 18.
To learn more about our Victory Square Blueprints project, please contact Georgia Conservancy Senior Director of Sustainable Growth Katherine Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.