Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ecopolis, design for urban contexts: A case study for Buffalo, NY
by Brodfuehrer, Sean, M.Arch., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2009, 146; 1464817
Abstract (Summary)

Statement of Issue/Problem. Metropolitan areas occupy just two percent of the planet but consume seventy five percent of its resources per year1 and as this pattern continues unchecked it creates a series of consequences on a regional and global scale. Some of the consequences that have been highlighted in recent news are oil dependence, global warming and health affects such as Type II diabetes and obesity. This thesis will explore the means by which architects and planners can weave together sustainable lessons and technologies into a holistically designed sustainable city.

Statement of Significance of Issue. Green design and sustainability have always, in one form or another, been a part of architectural thinking. Only recently have designers paid closer attention to the relationship between our built environment, sustainability and environmental health. Various layers of urban infrastructure such as transportation systems, open spaces, and utility systems should have just as significant a role in reducing our negative environmental impacts as we now insist upon in the buildings themselves. The fabric of the city can and should contribute to the larger energy and food production systems in order to promote a less ecologically demanding lifestyle. Environmental impacts are no longer just about saving trees and marine mammals: today's scientists are discovering the impacts of our cities on our daily lives, health and future. The results of this need to be reincorporated into how designers think, plan and build cities now, for the benefit of our future.

Method of Inquiry. The thesis research begins with a precedent study of relevant national and international environmentally positive developments in order to gather and catalog ideas, schemes and technological or scientific advances. These precedents will be identified through a literature review of development plans and technological innovations with sustainable themes. From this, information will be collected, aggregated and applied to the scale of a small urban neighborhood, roughly a collection of fifteen to twenty city blocks. The assumption is that, if successful, the research could be applied on a city wide scale. Relationships between design, density, transportation and other elements will be derived from my ongoing analysis or collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, the World Health Organization, or the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Example studies can be seen in the research of Dr. Lawrence Frank between traditional city and suburban style transportation systems and individual health or the ability for green roofs to reduce the urban heat island effect and lower energy demands for heating and cooling. All of this of information would then feed forward into a design project for my selected site. The hypothesis is that through the smart design of our cities, society could function in a more sustainable fashion and therefore create capacity for future growth, capacity that will be necessary to accommodate the projected future populations around the world.

Expected Outcome. Even at only two percent of the planet's surface metropolitan areas provide a significant amount of developable land with which to work. Furthermore, to theorize and design only for new "green field" developments would waste energy and resources on a large scale and be contrary to the essence of sustainable design. As a result this design project will take place within an existing context, an underutilized area in the City of Buffalo, NY. The model eco-neighborhood design will integrate the lessons learned from the precedent studies and my analysis to weave together the transportation, food and energy systems and other layers necessary to make a desirable and sustainable neighborhood.

1 Pearce, Fred. “Ecopolis Now” NewScientist 17 June 2006, pg 36-45

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shibley, Robert G.
Commitee: Hess, Daniel B.
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Architecture
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: MAI 47/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Architecture, Urban planning
Keywords: Buffalo, Green, New York, Sustainability, Urban design
Publication Number: 1464817
ISBN: 9781109159851
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