Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Urban, Community and Regional Planning
Washington DC is the political capital of the country, nestled within a working city. It is under international scrutiny everyday, acting as the face we show the world. A recent development in the center city showed the world our view on future
urban development, as the historic Chinatown was completely demolished to make way for new condos and a convention center, leaving a single street for nostalgia. Is this how we should think about our cities futures? As architects, we often become obsessed with the details of our designs, forgetting the larger forces that impact these projects, or that they may have on the areas around them. Instead of being a part of a united system, they act as islands in a sea of infill, separate from the daily life of the people around them. This form of design is unacceptable. Design needs to be approached simultaneously from several
different lenses in order to have a positive impact on its environment.
Starting with the formation of Washington DC, the first planned city in the United States, I began to study the different forces that impact the development of a urban center. Washington DC is the result of two antagonistic forces pushing against each other in the form of private economic development and symbolic design. I contended that the best way to approach future development in the city, was to use both these forms of design together, creating a plan that was both financially viable and symbolically significant. To test this, I decided to look at an area in the Southeast of the District. Anacostia and Buena Vista are a larger neighborhood on the brink of development. Most current proposals are either too small to aid the area [ bringing some district offices ] or too insensitive to the
current population [ the gentrification of a historically black and low income region ]. My particular site in the area is a large block of land which contains the existing metro station for the neighborhoods, as well as acting as a transportation hub for the Southeast. However, due to political issues, it was built a distance away from the actual neighborhood center. I chose to give look at this area, and gave the community something it lacks and needs no matter what income of people reside there, while also promoting both tourism and economic growth. A public market.
It would act as both an attractor to the area, but would also act to feed and
employ the current population in a place already easily accessible by metro and bus. It makes the area a destination, as well as a integral part of the daily life of its citizens. But while adding a market may solve the food desert issue facing the region, a single building, no matter how large it may be, cannot solve the issues of an area. Real and lasting change has to happen on all scales of development.
To begin to think as a urban designer, I had to first understand the profession and its role in rethinking urban development. Then, using the knowledge
gathered through research, I was able to finally think of how an urban designer would begin to approach the neighborhood beyond my particular site. This
allowed me to consider how my project would act as just a small piece in a larger project to connect the surrounding areas to the rest of the city with the additions of civic structures, retail, and open space. Yet most importantly, the
neighborhoods would still retain the very thing that makes them unique, their character. The end goal was to look at design from all different scales and lenses in order to create an approach to future urban development as cities continue to grow. And with this project, I believe I have created a viable answer.
Davis, Lindsay H., "‘Capital’ City: Creating an Approach to Urban Development in a Monumental City" (2010). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 318.
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