Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

Jennifer Akerman

Committee Members

Valerie Friedmann, James Rose


Climate change will have enormous implications for the future of architecture and design at all scales. Architectural discourse has recently focused mainly on preparing major cities to become the future sustainable centers of living for the world. Little has been discussed, however, about the future of smaller communities on the periphery and the implications of their loss to the diverse American cultural landscape.

Napa Valley contains many communities threatened by a changing climate. Napa Valley plays a major role in America’s culture as the heart of American winemaking. The success in Napa Valley wine is deeply rooted to the soil. Wine, like many agricultural products, places great importance on a sense of place. A key component of winemaking is “terroir”, a combination of cultural heritage and scientific factors of the place where wine is grown that creates the taste characteristics of wine. Because of this, the physical ground on which Napa Valley rests has a direct relationship to the city’s role as the heart of American wine. The city’s economic, cultural, political, and architectural infrastructure is highly dependent on its geographical setting. Climate change threatens to shift these areas suitable for viticulture entirely out of the Napa Valley by 2050.

The thesis seeks to explore the capacity of architecture to not only embody and reflect these issues of place but also to mitigate climate change and preserve culture through architecture. The program proposal seeks to develop an architecture that provides strategies of resilience for viticulture and for the communities of Napa Valley. To accomplish this it must create new systems that mitigate negative changes in climate, strengthen the community through overlapping ecologies and programming as well as raise public awareness of climate change, of the sustainability impacts of viticulture and other forms of agriculture, and the cultural significance of wine making in Napa Valley. Napa Valley is not alone. These solutions can serve as a model for other agricultural communities facing the same uncertain future. By understanding the cultural context of small communities we can design architecture and landscape solutions that preserve important cultural landscapes and create resilient communities.

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