Fish, Coke, Health?

The National Health Museum says it will set up shop a few years from now in my hometown of Atlanta.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Dr. Louis Sullivan, chairman of the National Health MuseumThe National Health Museum says it will set up shop a few years from now in my hometown of Atlanta.

The decision completes a trifecta for the north side of Centennial Olympic Park, where a decade ago my two kids were going to school.

Back then the area was wasted space, part of the gaping void between the spine of downtown and the World Congress Center. Now it features a giant fish tank, the Coca-Cola Museum and (soon) a museum that will tell you to eat the fish and avoid the Coke.

Atlanta business had been seeking a third attraction for years. They tried to bring in a Civil Rights museum but couldn't get the funding. They tried to get a NASCAR museum but lost out to Charlotte.

This time they had an in. Former HHS Secretary (and Morehouse School of Medicine President) Louis Sullivan (above) chairs the new museum's board.

The local fishwrap says the $250 million facility will serve as a stage for international health events. It will sit between the 2 million square foot World Congress Center and the old Atlanta Market Center, now called America's Mart.

The city also has tens of thousands of hotel rooms within an easy train ride of the site.

Chinese readers should know this is actually a legacy of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, during which Centennial Olympic Park was built from what had been a warehouse district. Many of the hotel plans and tourist ideas date from that period.

The land on which the fish tank and the Coke museum sit was acquired by the Coca-Cola Co. around that time, ostensibly for a new headquarters. The main Coke tower is a half-mile north of the site, at North Avenue and Marietta Street.

The museum's concept brochure says the attraction will live in both meat space and cyberspace. There are a number of Web hosts and telecom hotels in the area of the site.

The architect will be Moshe Safdie, an Israeli-born Canadian best known for the Habitat '67 project and a book called The City After the Automobile. Given that the site is along one of my favorite Sunday bike routes I'm up for that.

Unlike NASCAR, the National Health folks did not say they were interested in shaking down the city for money. That's good, we don't have any. The AMA and major health companies are all listed as contributors.

But a Founder's Campaign fund-raising exercise is ongoing, and my guess is you'll see the Woodruff Foundation, Coca-Cola, UPS and the Home Depot all there before long.

So if you Beijing readers wonder this summer whether all the trouble of hosting an Olympics is worthwhile, the answer to that question is yes. Oh, yes.

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