Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.Arch.

Degree Granting Department

Architecture

Major Professor

Steven A. Cooke, M.Arch.

Keywords

Neighborhood, Social interaction, Hybrid street grids, Land use, Single family homes

Abstract

Since the end of World War II, American cities have been stuck in the development trend of urban sprawl. The suburban ideal and proliferation of the automobile have fostered this trend, as well as several other negative issues in our society including inefficient land use and isolation of lower social and economic groups. After fifty years as the model by which American cities grow, it has proven itself to be both inefficient in land use and ineffective in bridging the social gaps that have existed since its inception. A new model for city growth is necessary, one that encourages steady and denser development, and the evolution of such a model should begin in a place in which the core of many American cities are built upon: the neighborhood.

This thesis will research the ideas present in many traditional American neighborhoods, ideas that have allowed many of these neighborhoods to exist as integrated urban microcosms within cities even into the modern era in which we now live. The goal is not to simply mimic these ideas and the situations which encouraged them, but to reestablish them with consideration to modern issues, lifestyles, and cultures that exist today. Research will be conducted into the nature of neighborhoods as social phenomena as a way to understand, and therefore respond to, how we interact with one another in the places in which we live. Research will also be conducted specific to the city of Tampa, Florida; exploring the structure of existing neighborhoods in Tampa as well as housing types commonly found in the city. The case study of Radburn, New Jersey will be examined as well as New Urbanism ideas to understand how others have approached the idea of neighborhood.

Neighborhoods were once the dominant method of development in the United States prior to the Great Depression and World War II. Urban sprawl and suburbia abandoned the idea of neighborhood in favor of a different ideal for living; an ideal which, whether intentional or not, encouraged private living and design decisions which centered around the automobile rather than people and social situations. While design investigations will include macro and micro strategies, a specific goal will be to explore how the design and planning of single family homes can be rethought to provide more frequent opportunities for social interactions with ones neighbor as well as improved relationships with the street. The conclusions of this thesis will aim to prove that reestablishing this phenomenon in urban planning can provide positive growth, encourage social interaction, as well as allow our basic nature as humans to take root.

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