Unifying Urban Topography: RISD Master's Thesis

  • In post-industrial America, many of our once productive manufacturing cities are becoming increasingly vacant, with industry and connection networks now defunct.  Until the mid 20th Century, these cities flourished with advances in technology, both in the factory and in urban connectivity. Many towns in New England like New Bedford Massachusetts that grew around centers of trade and production have fallen into subsequent decay.  Voids--moments of abandonment, blight and isolation--in the urban fabric are the result of this disconnect.  As we continue to inhabit local and global scales, our identities as community members have become multifaceted and need to address networks on a variety of levels in order to reorient ourselves and reconnect in the urban realm.
    In proposing a new regional network hub with a rail/ferry connection and permanent stalls for the local farmer's market, this thesis accommodates the ebb and flow of population through the urban fabric.  The new transportation center threads an inhabitable ribbon across voids and boundaries from a recreational park to the river allowing visitors and neighbors alike to occupy an extension of land and sea and commute to the larger region.  My position towards these cities remains bound up not in the developer's vision of the future or in the detritus of the past. Rather than turn our backs on the voids and fill them with capital-driven infill development, we must understand them as traversable and above all, indispensable to the urban identity.