Jaymes Dunsmore's (MCP '12) thesis argues that ideas about a city are powerful forces, and have lasting impacts on the built environment. While not every vision is realized in the built form, every aspect of urban development is the reflection of a vision about what the city should be. This is especially true in Los Angeles. Today, the ideas and trends that shaped the development of that city, and many American metropolises, in the twentieth century are falling away, presenting the opportunity for new visions of downtown development and civic space to take form.
Kathleen Dahlberg's (MCP/SMArchS '12) thesis explores the mid-size American city and examines the deeply nuanced relationship between city form, landscape and culture. Using Springfield Missouri as a representative case study, the city is viewed as a process of transformation, a reading which is used to build a layered spatial comprehension, interpreting the terrain as a set of limits, cultural production, and space of collective desire; and the city as a negotiation between global economic development and local specificity.
Caitlin Cameron (MCP '12) came to the conclusion that we believe we understand food deserts, but we do not. In the last decade the phenomenon of food deserts has been often discussed, and many solutions are proposed to alleviate food access issues in American cities. However, I argue that the efficacy of these solutions is questionable until the causes of urban food deserts are better understood. Beyond the economics of retail grocery exist systemic, physical factors which contribute to the gaps in food access.
Rachel Blatt's (MCP '12) thesis explored how vibrant multi-use sidewalks are designed in two phases. First there is the design of the physical infrastructure which determines sidewalk widths, materials, and the adjacent building fagades and roadway. Then there is the design problem of organizing objects on the sidewalk: where should the trees be planted, where do the lampposts, benches, trashcans, and signs get placed. Object placement is what identifies the sidewalk as a multi-use environment - making it both a space to move through and a place to gather in.
Allison Albericci's (MCP/SMArchS '12) thesis questioned what is the present role of technical change - particularly change in integrated Information-Communication Technology (ICT) - in facilitating sustainable urbanism in the developing world? Technological advancements are altering consumer demand and behavior, transforming the products, services, entertainment and information consumed as well processes related to consumption.
Ann-Ariel Vecchio, thesis looks at natural systems as a key element of how to design for sustainability. As part of these efforts, academics and practitioners have also begun to explore the ways in which the utilization of natural systems can and should change our approach to the design and function of urban areas and of infrastructure itself. As an entry point to explore the topic, this thesis focuses on stormwater management as one basic building block or fundamental component of multipurpose infrastructure development.
Built for a population in some cases over twice as large as that currently within the city limits, shrinking cities have found themselves, particularly since 2007’s fiscal crisis, with an unmanageably large array of streets, utilities, public buildings, parks and housing. ‘Rightsizing’ has emerged as a word for the yet-unproved process of somehow bringing cities down to a ‘right’ size; in other words, to a size proportionate to city government’s ability to pay for itself. Even Detroit, the United States’s largest shrinking city, is discussing rightsizing.
Planners may read plans often, but the profession continues to view the interpretation of plan content as something that is either too obvious or too unimportant to require explicit discussion. Plans are seldom adequately interpreted. This is regrettable because plans contain a rich variety of content and meaning.
About 10,000 feet below much of the United States lurks a wealth of natural gas. This high-profit resource is accessed by “fracking,” or piping pressurized chemicals and water into a deep bore in order to break apart compressed layers of shale, releasing the gas between them, and pumping the gas to the surface.
As part of Tushar Kansal’s thesis (MCP 2012), he asked whether the states or the federal government is better able to regulate the risks and environmental and community impacts associated with fracking.
Tushar’s analysis hinges on four concerns:
In recent years, governments in South America have turned to large-scale hydropower as a cost-effective way to improve livelihoods while addressing the energy “trilemma:” ensuring that future energy technologies provide effective solutions to climate change, environmental degradation, and supply security.
Patricio Zambrano-Barragan (MCP ’12) explored the rapidly-changing context for hydropower in South America by looking at three flagship projects: Ecuador’s Coca-Codo-Sinclair (1,500MW), Chile’s HidroAysén (2,750MW), and Perú’s Inambari (2,000MW).