Christian Rushing, who died this week, played an instrumental role in the design of downtown Chattanooga. (Photo: Contributed)

Chattanooga urban design leader Christian Sinclair Rushing died Wednesday after a long battle with gallbladder cancer. He was 44.  

Rushing, who moved to Chattanooga after graduate school, played a major role in the development of the Scenic City’s downtown. Most recently, he served as executive director of the Chattanooga Design Studio.

Longtime friend and former business partner Ann Coulter said that Rushing believed that good design was for everyone to experience.

Rushing put a focus on public participation in his designs, such as the Urban Design Challenge and City Center plan. 

“He really set about making our city a better place … and [helped] us visualize and operationalize how to live better together,” Coulter said. 

His works include Jefferson Heights Park Pavilion, the Madison Street project and numerous residential projects.

He also created riverfront and downtown development plans for cities across the nation.

“His work extended beyond Chattanooga,” Coulter said. “He didn’t just hone his skills in Chattanooga, but in other places he worked. And he brought that additional skill set back to benefit us.”

Rushing was also a passionate sports fan and talented athlete. He played basketball in his earlier years and later ran marathons and completed an Ironman triathlon. 

He was a lifelong Alabama football fan and Birmingham City Football Club supporter.

He greatest joy was to watch his sons play sports, and he enjoyed cooking. 

Coulter said that Rushing’s blog-in which he wrote about urban design and then the experience of having cancer-helped the community get to know him. 

“He started writing his blog, and a whole city kind of fell in love with Christian’s sense of humor, his love for Alabama football and a good cigar,” she said. “They met his family through [the blog] and learned more about what good design means and why it matters to everyone.”

Rushing earned degrees from the University of New Mexico and Auburn University. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. 

His last blog post before his death was called “Brothers.” He shared stories about recent experiences with his biological and fraternity brothers. 

Coulter said it’s very rare to find someone with the mix of talents Rushing had.

“He was somebody who had a fabulous Alabama accent; he knew how to use a curse word like it was the finest literature,” she said. “He could write, as well as draw; he could be quiet, as well as eloquent. He understood people … There wasn’t an arrogant bone in his body.”

Rushing is survived by his wife, Denise; sons Spencer, 11, and Stern, 8; parents Linda and Gary Moore; and brothers Andrew and Luke.

A memorial service will be held at Northside Presbyterian Church Feb 6 at 1 p.m.  

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Terry Ewton Memorial Oncology Ministry, care of Bethel Temple, 6613 Hixson Pike.

People from Bethel made sandwiches each week for oncology patients during their chemotherapy sessions.