Project Spotlight - Town Center Creative Placemaking

The Town Center community is a bustling area of Cobb County, Georgia, that includes Kennesaw State University, Town Center Mall, key regional expressways and major roadways, Cobb County International Airport, Aviation Park, numerous residential neighborhoods, and several popular hiking and biking trails. While the area is heavily populated, there are currently limited public gathering spaces and many people are unaware of the area’s assets like the Noonday Creek Trail. The Town Center Community Alliance retained TSW, in partnership with Chattanooga-based placemaking firm Little Things Lab, to make recommendations for creative improvements on the area’s major corridors that highlight Town Center’s existing features, and design new elements to attract more visitors to the area, while giving both visitors and residents expanded opportunities to safely engage in community activities. The eight-month process included site visits, several public engagement activities, an existing conditions analysis, review of previous plans and final recommendations.

Project Spotlight - Town Center Creative Placemaking
The American Planning Association (APA) defines creative placemaking as a process where community members from public, private, and non-profit sectors work together to strategically shape the physical and social character of their community around art and culture to increase vibrancy, improve economic conditions and build capacity among residents to take ownership of their communities. With this goal in mind, the planning team worked with community members to define a vision for the area, and then bring that vision to life through design recommendations.  The team identified five placemaking categories on which to focus:
  • Special Places
  • Roadway Underpass Enhancements
  • Trail Identification Improvements
  • Safety Through Art
  • Events and Programming
Project Spotlight - Town Center Creative Placemaking
Special Places
The community highly desired additional public spaces for outdoor activities and events.  The following spaces were proposed:
  • Noonday Creek Linear Park off Barrett Lakes Blvd.
  • Art Park off Chastain Rd.
  • Outdoor public events spaces
  • Boardwalk Park and Nature Trail off Chastain Rd.
  • Outdoor Climbing Park at George Busbee Parkway
  • Dog Park and Fitness Park at Bells Ferry Trailhead
Underpass Enhancement
Highway underpasses throughout the community were identified and recommended to be enhanced by adding native landscaping, artistic lighting and colorful mural installations to provide Town Center branding opportunities, increase a sense of safety, and beautify the area.
Trail Identification Improvements
  • Add creative wayfinding signage with native landscaping at all Noonday Creek Trail entry points.
  • Add colorful, branded crosswalks where the trail intersects the major corridors to signify trail crossings and increase visibility of pedestrian routes.
  • Add site furniture and shade structures at key trailheads to increase comfort and multi-functional use.
Safety Through Art
  • Enhance crosswalks with branded, creative designs to expanded pedestrian connections and increase awareness of major pedestrian routes.
  • Improve road medians with native landscapes and artistic elements.
  • Create road-pedestrian buffers with landscaping and artistic barriers.
  • Enhance blank walls on the corridors through the additional of branded, cohesive artistic elements or murals.
Events and Programming in Public Parks and Spaces
  • Exercise classes in the Park. Bikes + Bites events that include a bike ride to a happy hour in an outdoor space in partnership with a local restaurant. Music performances along the Noonday Creek Trail to encourage trail usage.
  • Community Climb Events in partnership with local climbing gym, Stone Summit Climbing and Fitness Center.
  • Themed/focused events that highlight the local food scene, artists, and makers. Team Spirit Day in partnership with KSU.
  • Outdoor movie series
  • Guided Tours that highlight the beautiful nature along the trail and history of the area.
The final plan has been presented and received positive feedback from the community and Town Center officials. TSW is excited to see the above recommendations be implemented to make this thriving Georgia community an even more appealing place to live, work, and play.