By Melody Harclerode

Springtime marks a season of renewal. Many people select this period with comfortable temperatures to start home improvement projects: a fresh coat of paint, new landscaping and much-needed repairs.

The arrival of spring also reawakens my joy for window shopping. I love to walk in neighborhoods like Virginia Highland on a beautiful day and stare into storefronts at goods even if I don’t intend to purchase them. Displays with furniture, finishes, accessories and clothing can indicate current style trends and inspire future design projects by the use of color, style, pattern and materials.

With the oversupply of retail space in Atlanta, this stimulating experience has been lost for pedestrians along many streets. Empty or stale window displays stand in place of the inspiring storefronts. If they bother to look at the windows, pedestrians too often see a blank white wall or over-sized images of photogenic people next to over-sized leasing information about the building.

Local architect Shelly-Anne Tulia Scott tackles this lackluster street environment by organizing URBANfronts Storefront Galleries with a team of volunteers from the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Atlanta) and industry partners including United States Green Building Council of Georgia (USGBC-GA), Commercial Real Estate Women, National Organization of Minority Architects and Networking Women.

From April 7 – 20, local artist and students fill vacant storefronts in the Midtown district with thought-provoking art, architecture, design, fashion and furniture. The URBANfronts event allows artists to exhibit their work along busy corridors and raise their local profile. Property owners gain more foot traffic and buzz about their buildings. AIA Atlanta reinforces its commitment to promote architecture and design to the public. The excitement and creative energy from URBANfronts Storefront Galleries will enlighten the hearts of many in our community and temporarily alter the landscape to reflect the culture of our beautiful city.

The public benefits by seeing cutting-edge artwork for free in the bustling Midtown district over the two-week period and meeting these designers at events such as the Opening Reception on Sunday, April 7, Wine Reception and Silent Auction on Thursday, April 11 and Pecha Kucha  Night (Open Mic Forum for Creative Presentations) on Thursday, April 18. Visit aiaatl.org/urbanfronts for more details.

During this period of renewal, take a walk along the filled storefronts created for URBANfronts Storefront Galleries. The window displays are short-lived, but the generated inspiration can be everlasting.

P.S.  The month of April also represents the start of free AIA Atlanta tours of newly constructed or renovated buildings beginning with the Benjamin E. Mays High School on April 27. More information about the tours is located at aiaatl.org/community-education. If you appreciate good architecture and design, you will love these monthly tours.

Melody L. Harclerode, AIA, a local architect and former Board Member of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission, promotes the power of architecture and design as a Board Member of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Principal of Harclerode Architects (harc-arch.com). For more information, check out aiaatl.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.