Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

Scott W. Wall

Committee Members

Katherine Ambroziak, Jennifer Akerman


“With the loss of tactility and the scale and details crafted for the human body and hand, our structures become repulsively flat, sharp-edged, immaterial, and unreal” (Holl 29). Our built environment is full of constructs which are unsuccessful on a number of levels proving why it is critical to concentrate on a sense of place and identity. A great place is described as one where people gravitate towards, a place for everyone, something that is memorable, and a space which evokes a story (Placemaking Is...). South Knoxville, Tennessee, the selected site of this thesis, will test the concept of place and identity with its rich history, communal feel, and distinct character. The neighborhoods, proximity to the waterfront, view-sheds, and the people are just a few examples of what makes South Knoxville a great place. This thesis responds to a variety of users, scales, and representative elements of place present in South Knoxville, all while understanding the forces that challenge place and identity, whether they be spatial, social, economic, or natural. Three goals which drive this thesis include highlighting the identity of South Knoxville, creating public space at the Mid River section of South Knoxville, and connecting the working-class neighborhoods to the heart of the South Knoxville Waterfront which have all been under attack by poor planning and development.

South Knoxville, once full of vibrant public places with a thriving main street, began to have its identity compromised with industry and businesses that settled within proximity of the river and major roadways which run through it. The Baptist Hospital complex once at the head and center of South Knoxville, situated between two bridges, was the single most detracting element of South Knoxville’s identity and proposed redevelopment is no different. Precious land was consumed for large scale development, neighborhoods were and to this date are severed, and a once vibrant identity was comprised. South Knoxville’s tactility, scale, and details dramatically have transformed over time, thus presenting the challenge to reinvigorate the sense of place and identity at the most critical point on the South Knoxville Waterfront.


This is the final version of the thesis document with all revisions incorporated from the thesis committee and formatting notes from the Graduate School.

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