Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

Major

Landscape Architecture

Major Professor

Bradford P. Collett

Committee Members

Avigail Sachs, T.K. Davis

Abstract

Suburban sprawl, characterized by low-density, scattered, single-use development, is an ever-increasing concern for the environment, economy, and sense of community and identity of cities today. Sprawling communities have been designed with poor neighborhood connectivity, a lack of walkability, and in isolation from public space, jobs, and schools, creating a place that is virtually devoid of social interaction and a distinguishing identity.

Suburbia constitutes roughly 75% of contemporary development in the United States. Many buildings in these suburban areas are either vacant or out of date, and demographic and market shifts indicate a growing demand for more diverse housing types and urban-style living. Given current population growth projections, new development strategies must be considered. One such strategy is known as retrofitting suburbia, and involves the rehabilitation, adaptive re-use, or redevelopment of the built and natural environment in order to induce holistic, long-lasting, transformative change (Dunham-Jones and Williamson vi-xii). While retrofitting suburbs requires a holistic approach to address economic, environmental and social issues, this thesis posits that community building and place-making are fundamental to retrofitting suburbs.

This thesis proposes a retrofit of suburban sprawl through the application of principles of New Urbanism and Landscape Urbanism in order to reverse the negative impacts, with a focus on enhancing community and sense of place. The community of Halls Crossroads, a ‘bedroom suburb’ of Knoxville, Tennessee has been selected for a suburban retrofit that uses existing New Urbanist retrofit best practices from which planners and designers of Halls and similar sprawling suburbs can begin to address issues of isolation, lack of identity, and poor sense of community.

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