Connecting a City: Meet Ryan Gravel

By Alternative
August 28, 2014

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Yes, it all started with a college thesis project. While attending Georgia Tech, Ryan Gravel proposed converting 22 miles of abandoned Atlanta railroad track into a cultural path featuring parks and green space that generate growth, reduce traffic and improve quality of life.

The Altanta BeltLine is proof big things can start with one person and succeed with the support of a community that cares.

As creator of Atlanta’s most connective and catalytic project since the 1996 Olympics, Ryan knows the ins and outs of Atlanta like no other. His familiarity with the 44 different neighborhoods brought together by the BeltLine is rivaled only by his passion for improving city life.

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Senior Urban Designer at Perkins+Will—the same firm helping to lead the charge on LA River Restoration efforts—Ryan Gravel is interested in revitalization as it relates to transit. “There are physical and cultural expectations for the places we live. The infrastructure should relate to our way of life. Bicycle paths, parks and blueways could ultimately help balance out a city that doesn’t want to be stuck in traffic.”

But Ryan doesn’t take all the credit for creating the super successful BeltLine initative. “It only became real because of the community. It all emerged out of this grassroots movement that demanded attention.” And that’s how you connect a city, through community.

Read more about how Ryan Gravel brings Atlanta together at

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Written by Shannon Randall

Photos by Justin Weaver

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