[BRIDGING] The Gap : Clarkston’s Hyper-Ethnic Fabric

Abaan Muhammad Ali
Atlanta, GA

Project Location: Clarkston, Georgia
Completion Date: 01/01/2020
Owner: Georgia Institute of Technology

Project Description

Clarkston, GA, is known as “the most diverse square mile in America”. Since the late 1990s refugee asylum programs in the United States have identified Clarkston as a city for refugee resettlement. Although the small city is no longer handling the large influx of people from all over the world as in earlier days, the city is now being tasked with defining itself, and envisioning the future with its immense diversity. Focusing on the ethnic and cultural boundaries that existed within the community, I was tasked to create an identity for the community, the symbolized the disenfranchised and under-represented immigrant population along with the existing natural born community. Through the use of different scales and enacting a set of defined “Languages,” I recognized a bridge input would create a more cohesive language and identity towards the evident physical and social barriers existing within the site.

The design evolved into the conception of a bridge infrastructure with a layered urban framework located in Downtown Clarkston. The bridge acted as a literal bridging mechanism designed to connect the disjointed site and activate the existing neglected city center. The site itself posed the greatest point of influence to this disconnected nature as the existing railroad tracks created a defined separation between the Downtown commercial area and the civic/government district of the city. The bridge represented a unification between two prominent and detached components of the city, the existing population and the immigrant and refugee population which comprised a large segment of the population yet remained misrepresented politically. The structure would provide a forced merging point between the two faction as a marketplace and performance area. A place for commercial entrepreneurialship for the entire community, a singular identity merging a conglomerate of ethnicities and cultures, and equal representation for all.