Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

John M. McRae

Committee Members

Avigail Sachs, Jennifer Akerman


Connecting the fragmented urban landscape through the tactical activation of the drosscape, “in-between” spaces, separating communities within the urban fabric.

American cities are currently experiencing a period of deindustrialization, factories are moving out of the traditional city center and into the suburban landscape, taking employment opportunities and people with them. The result is a horizontal urbanization that creates conditions of fragmentation and increased separation between communities within the city. Borders and boundaries between communities become increasingly more defined, generated by physical, geographical, political, social, cultural, and economic differences.

Strongly defined separations between communities within an urbanized area can bring to light the inequalities and disparities of the city. Historically, when big moves are made in the infrastructure of a city, the underprivileged citizens are often the victims of dispossession and predatory practices. The result is increased unrest, which often leads to protests and in some cases revolutions. The distinction between borders and boundaries along communities and the treatment of such zones needs to be further explored.

In addition to the social implications of urban sprawl, as cities expand horizontally, landscape is wasted along the way. Coined as “drosscapes” by Alan Berger, these wasted landscapes provide opportunities to design connections within the urban fabric while minimizing the dispossession of land that often occurs when redeveloping urbanized areas, “design within the margins.” The activation of drosscapes that separate communities and emphasize the fragmentation of the urban landscape offers a new opportunity for design.

By focusing architectural interventions along the border zones between communities, greater interaction and connectivity can be promoted within the city. This thesis proposes taking advantage of the leftover spaces that result from horizontal sprawl, by transforming them into zones of integration and increased communication within the urban fabric.

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