Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

Hansjoerg Goeritz

Committee Members

Avigail Sachs, Jason T. Young


The city of Knoxville, as it is today, lacks a certain level of connection with the Tennessee River. The goal of this thesis project is to identify the source of development away from the river, and to design a waterfront intervention, which will reflect community goals, as well as pay respect to the factors that have driven the development of Knoxville in the past.

Through the study of Knoxville’s history, one can see a clear change in the geographical and social condition of the Tennessee River in Knoxville. Through the innovation of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the riverbanks were inherently changed. Through the introduction of an aspect of safety to the river, the city had the opportunity to grow into its new riverfront. However, development patterns are not easily changed, and the city of Knoxville continues to grow more in a Northern and Western trajectory, while downtown and The University of Tennessee remain virtually unchanged.

In the 1950s, the TVA completed work on a large infrastructural project to control the flow of the river, with the goal of producing hydropower, creating jobs, and improving quality of life in an agrarian society. Essentially, it was an economic experiment that resulted in an unprecedented change in the area. Knoxville has a very unique opportunity to engage a riverfront that does not flood, carry disease, and is reliably navigable for the first time in history. Many cities long for the opportunity to have the safety that Knoxville currently possesses.

The goal of the project, therefore, is to open up opportunities for Knoxville to develop in a new direction. The city can identify as a riverfront city, rather than simply as a city that happens to exist next to a river. The goal is to remove physical barriers from inhibiting public recreational access to the riverfront. It also includes some analysis of the urban fabric of Knoxville, in order to enhance access to campus and downtown riverfront sites. Two sites have been chosen to implement interventions, with connections between them.

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