Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Vikas Mehta, Ph.D.


Landscape Urbanism, Architecture, Public Space, Detroit, Ecology


Worldwide, dense urban spaces have been organized and transformed by cultural values. However, in many cases, changes in economic and social conditions have resulted in fragmentation of neighborhood typologies, in terms of their physical characteristics and uses. Such spaces are a manifestation of development, expansion, dislocation and marginalization; a condition that can be improved through an architectural and urban strategy which inscribes emerging forces into the neglected zones of marginal territories. The contemporary context calls for a re-evaluation of public space. To fully engage the people, it is a necessary function of public space to blur landscape, architecture and infrastructure, as these three elements are rarely used in isolation. Public space can no longer be conceived as layers of these components of the built environment superimposed, but rather as an integrated network.

As an investigation of the environmental potential of existing urban areas, this thesis attempts to use an integrated network approach to create a local, social and cultural identity in a Detroit neighborhood. By focusing on the important role the public realm plays within the urban landscape, the project creates a dialogue between the natural and built components of the urban realm by taking advantage of the potential of existing infrastructure, social factors and context. The main focus of this thesis creates a design strategy that gives character and identity to an area of the city that has been fragmented as a result of recent changes in economic and social factors. The project achieves this by weaving nature into the urban fabric.

The research in this thesis culminates in a project which identifies a marginal area in Detroit and suggests alternative uses for the surrounding spaces, giving emphasis to the natural component of the urban landscape as a tool to critique the re-appropriation of spaces that outlived their original vitality. The concepts and findings from this thesis could be applied in any city towards the ecological reconditioning of marginal areas.