Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

Gregory T. Spaw

Committee Members

George Dodds, Mark M. Schimmenti


The purpose of this thesis is to propose a solution to a world wide condition, most noticeable in the United States, that is the erosional pattern caused by the downtown surface parking lot. Vibrancy and local culture are crucial factors to the existence of a successful downtown area, but excessive surface parking lots are inhibiting the growth of downtown metropolitan areas. They create gaps devoid of growth. These gaps in the fabric of downtown are killing downtown vitality and identity. The current parking lot density in many downtowns is a cause for concern if there is to be continual economic progress and growth.

In order for change to take place, current economic policies of property taxation must be visited and assessed. My proposal is to address and correct the issue of prime, underdeveloped land used as surface parking. In the current property tax system, the value of land and value of improvements are calculated together. This, in turn, penalizes those who choose to improve their land and rewards those who do not with lower taxes. I propose a re-engineering of the tax structure, by implementing a Land Value Tax, which emphasizes the value of land and discourages underdevelopment. A Land Value Tax will free the land and allow public/private partnerships to construct buildings with highly dense programs that will activate the area and generate revenue to define and revitalize their area.

For my design proposal, I will be simulating a Land Value Tax in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee as well as studying the surrounding buildings, their programs, and the local culture so that I may amplify their presence through building a programmatically dense structure where a surface lot once was. My intention will be to define historic Gay Street, form connections along Market Street, and stimulate energy and culture in a location where both are nonexistent. The idea of a public/private partnership will be pushed through the complex set of programs within a proposed building that will strive to benefit the city, private developers, local businesses, and the public.

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