Andres Duany’s plans for the Beltline, Toco Hills

You thought we were just going to write about his snarky comments? Of course not.

The Atlanta Regional Commission didn’t ask Andres Duany to envision a mixed-use design for Gwinnett Place Mall. But he did anyway.

He imagined how the stereotypical shopping box out in the wilds of suburbia would look should our economy collapse. Residents would have safety in numbers, gathered in dense housing. They could raze the single-family sameness surrounding them and plant crops. They could erect a wall to protect them from the barbarian hordes. Duany even included a moat. Because that’s how badass Duany is.

Last month, the smart-growth guru and father of New Urbanism converged upon Atlanta with a team of urban planners to conduct a nine-day series of site-planning sessions.

Duany’s team focused on five sites in metro Atlanta as part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s initiative to prepare for the coming surge in the metro region’s aging population. In 2030, the commission says, one out of five adults in metro Atlanta will be over the age of 60. They’ll need a place to live. For people with limited mobility, the 40-story isolation towers we’ve stuck them in for the last few decades aren’t cutting it. The metro region’s sprawlish character isn’t hospitable for someone who can’t drive to the doctor, pharmacy or store. Simply put, the way things are right now, metro Atlanta isn’t prepared to accommodate many of the same people who helped build their communities.

Duany’s group aimed to see how the public and private sector can work together to change that. And for a wonk like me, it was a thrilling concept. After the jump, pretty pictures and lots of basic details.