Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Architecture



Major Professor

Tricia A. Stuth

Committee Members

Avigail Sachs, Jason T. Young


The general basis of this thesis is to provide a critical examination of city branding and its implications on the built environment. Geographically fixated upon on the city of Knoxville, TN, Scruffy City, Variegated Spaces, Rare Places explores a unique relationship between cultural identity and architectural form. This project is an attempt to understand and harness an allusive attitude that undoubtedly shapes the architecture of this city. Therefore, the project itself is an open-ended set of design operations that inherently challenge the nature of architectural process in an attempt to study and emulate scruffiness in the built environment.

The project was initially conceived and derives its sense of urgency from an extensive chapter of life spent living on the outskirts of Austin, TX. During my time in this great city, I noticed a general dissatisfaction from residents over the recent influx of Central Texas transplants. I couldn’t help but think, ‘they did it to themselves, they made this city too cool for its own good.’ Upon moving to the Southeast to inhabit a city that has yet to experience a mass migration like Austin, I ask myself: How is cultural value diluted from a place, and what is architecture’s role in either facilitating or preventing this kind of change?

Therefore, the purpose of this project is to establish a notion that practitioners of architecture, local authorities, and members of the general public should critically embrace and evaluate city branding as a metric for studying and shaping the built environment

Starr_ComicStrip.pdf (3441 kB)
How to Modify Your Scruffy Building

Starr_FacadeWalk.pdf (25069 kB)
Famous Facades of North Knoxville

Starr_Guidelines.pdf (11581 kB)
Revised Facade Improvement Guidelines

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