Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

Major Professor

Brad Collett

Committee Members

John McRae, TK Davis


According to the World Health Organization, there have been increases in the adverse physical, mental and social conditions amongst urban populations in recent years. These issues have been attributed to impediments to healthy lifestyles, a lack of physical activity and poor food choices (WHO 29). This can lead to obesity, increasing risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health related problems. Sedentary lifestyles are worsened by modern technologies such as cell phones, computers, and video games.

Urban landscapes have evolved over time to suit the needs of various, and sometimes-competing priorities of growing cities. As a result, the health of human inhabitants has not always been a primary consideration, and the manner with which the built environment has historically been planned and designed exacerbates the aforementioned health challenges. The harshness of the urban environment and limited access to nature has been know to increase rates of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression among city dwellers. Social challenges also arise with increased use of digital technology, limiting face-to-face interaction and straining support systems that are often provided by engaging a community.

Fragmented landscapes offer an opportunity for redesign and can help to counteract the open space and nature deficiencies found in the urban context. This project explores how the redevelopment of blighted and underutilized landscapes may be used as a method to mitigate or overcome social, mental, and physical health challenges posed by contemporary urban environments and the lifestyles they facilitate. The Blackstock site in downtown Knoxville, TN is selected as the test site for this exploration due to its central location, proximity to four historic neighborhoods where such challenges are observed to be persistent, and blighted. Program will be integrated within the project site to increase physical activity, mental stimulation and social interaction, as well as to improve air quality, and provide access to amenities that promote healthy dietary habits.

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