Ryan offers an architect's perspective to urban planning, bringing the knowledge of building dimension and design to site planning, concept development and public policy. His master's thesis in 1999 was the original vision for the ambitious Atlanta BeltLine, a 22-mile transit greenway that transforms a loop of old railroads with light-rail transit, parks and trails to generate economic growth and protect quality-of-life in 45 neighborhoods throughout the central city. Eight years of his subsequent work as a volunteer and later in the nonprofit and government sectors was critical to the BeltLine's success, which is now more than a $2 billion public-private initiative in the early stages of implementation.
Ryan is design manager for the Atlanta BeltLine Corridor design and is also working with other clients to develop their vision, such as the South Fork Conservancy's Watershed Vision plan for 40 miles of hiking trails along Peachtree Creek. Ryan speaks internationally about the BeltLine and has been recognized for his accomplishments including the Atlanta Urban Design Commission's highest award in 2007 and Esquire Magazine's "Best and Brightest" in 2006.