MLA Thesis Projects

MLA Alumni Thesis Projects


Erin Callahan

Growing Stewards – Reimagining a Historic Landscape as a Venue for Climate Change Awareness through Education, Adaptation, and Play

Historic landscapes are an important part of our collective heritage. They provide a window to the past, offering narratives of our origins and how our relationships with nature have changed over time. Such landscapes receive historic treatments, including preservation, to ensure they are suspended in their period of significance. However, this static approach is no longer effective in protecting and communicating the heritage historic landscapes were intended to share: new approaches must be considered to contend with the dynamism of both nature and culture and ensure the health of these landscapes for generations to come. As climate change is the biggest threat to such landscapes, this thesis aims to explore how climate adaptive strategies can be responsive to both the historic and contemporary context of Meridian Hill Park: a cultural landscape that has been on the National Historic Register since 1994. It will focus specifically on providing meaningful experiences for children in the landscape, as a changing climate and environment is what they will inherit.

Aliya Mejias

Applying Green Complete Streets on Georgia Avenue NW: Redesigning an Urban Right-of-Way for Sustainable Mobility and Urban Water Quality

The public right-of-way (ROW) makes up nearly one-third of all the public space in cities. With the majority global population expected to reside in cities by 2050, climate change posing a significant threat to urban residents and infrastructure, impervious urban surface impacts on water quality, and knowing traffic fatalities in the US reached a 16-year high, cities must reconsider how this public good can serve people and the environment over to car-centric mobility. Using a segment of Georgia Avenue NW in Washington, DC, this thesis removes automobiles from the ROW to demonstrate how Green Complete Streets, which prioritizes sustainable transportation and urban water quality, can support urban livability on a corridor scale.

Matthew Reise

From Harm to Hope: Reimagining an Abandoned Asylum as a Space of Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Rejoice

The Crownsville State Hospital opened in 1913 as the first and only mental institution in the state of Maryland to serve the Black community. After 91 years of operation rife with neglect, abuse, exploitation, and other acts of inhumanity, the hospital closed and has laid virtually abandoned since. In this thesis, I will propose ways of reactivating Crownsville’s historic campus through acknowledging the property’s horrific past, by providing support and amenities to the region’s most vulnerable individuals, and by creating space to celebrate the identity of communities who were historically persecuted on the grounds. I will explore the Crownsville campus through the lens of a cultural landscape, and attempt to balance the preservation of existing assets with the development of new community features.

Audrey Seiz

The Brain Does Not Lie: A Case Study of Psychophysiology and Landscape in South Clifton Park

Researchers have long explored how humans respond psychologically and physiologically to distinct landscapes and natural features. Walking in nature and viewing photographs of natural landscapes have been shown to reduce stress measured through physiological responses of blood pressure, salivary cortisol concentration, and pulse rate. Exposure to natural landscapes has also been shown to improve feelings of relaxation and positive emotion. The increased popularity of virtual reality (VR) in landscape architecture provides an additional visualization tool to immerse a participant in a landscape at human scale. Little research has focused on the potential impact of visualization through VR, studied the impact of urban nature, or compared the impact of landscape design using the same site. This study explores how employment of psychophysiological measures provides objective assessment of humans' landscape perception in response to the restorativeness of a virtual place. Twenty students were recruited to view an actual site in South Clifton Park, Baltimore City. Utilizing VR, participants observed the site as it exists currently and reimagined using the tenets of Attention Restoration Theory (ART), Stress Reduction Theory (SRT), and community vision. Psychological response was analyzed using the Perceived Restorativeness Scale (PRS-16), a survey designed to evaluate a place’s restorativeness through principles of ART, and physiological response was analyzed using electroencephalogram (EEG), the non-invasive measurements of the electrical brain activity. Findings indicated that perceived restorativeness increased in the designed site for the factors Being Away/Fascination and Compatibility; however, no significant difference was identified for the factor Extent. Regarding EEG data, alpha brain frequencies (broadband alpha, low alpha, and high alpha) were not significantly different when viewing the vacant versus designed site within the frontal or parietal lobes; however, beta brain frequencies (broadband beta, low beta, and high beta) demonstrated a marginally significant effect of sex in the frontal and parietal lobes with male beta brain frequencies decreasing when viewing the designed site and female beta brain frequencies increasing. Finally, frontal alpha asymmetry, a measure of approach-withdrawal motivation, demonstrated a marginally significant decrease when viewing the designed site, indicating increased withdrawal motivation in the designed site. The present research seeks to fill a gap in understanding objective indicators of restorativeness of a place and explore the power of VR as a tool for visualizing place.

Debra Shteinberg

Illuminating Public Spaces Through Artful Lighting Design: A Response to the Proposed Elevated Seawall on Staten Island

This thesis explores the ways in which lighting can be used to create a memorable nocturnal experience that engages users and strengthens connections to their landscapes. Far more than functional, lighting is an art form that can be used to transform the very way we understand and experience our public spaces. Through the lens of lighting design, a redesign of the FDR Beach and Boardwalk is proposed in response to the building of the East Shore Seawall, a large-scale infrastructure project that will threaten the community’s ability to engage with this vital open space. Lighting is used to create spaces that allow for entertainment, education, and reflection, which will activate the site, providing legibility, enhance the nighttime experience, and create a sense of identity.

Marci-Ann Smith

Creating Space for Nature Rx at Historically Black Colleges and Universities

With the rising trend of mental health issues among young adults, many colleges are trying to establish an approach to combat those issues for the well-being of their students. One such approach is Nature Rx. Nature Rx is a program that encourages people, sometimes with an actual prescription, to spend time in nature in order to relieve stress and improve overall health. Nature Rx is a holistic way of addressing mental issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression that are prevalent among college students. The evidence is strong that time spent in and engaging with nature can improve mental and physical health. Colleges like Cornell University and University of Maryland College Park are taking advantage of their existing beautiful landscape as part of their Nature Rx program to help their students. Other schools are implementing this program and providing spaces for their students to find reprieve from the stresses of studies. However, there is a gap in the presence of Nature Rx programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). To date, no HBCU has a nature Rx program. This project seeks to fill that gap by using the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, an HBCU, as a case study to answer the following thesis question: “How could a Nature Rx design at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a Historically Black College and University, benefit the health and well-being of its students?”


Jonathan Mallory

Healing with Nature: Integrating biodiversity at  Medstar Montgomery Medical Center 

This paper addresses the question of whether biodiversity and green infrastructure promote the wellbeing of patients, staff, and visitors in a design intervention for Medstar Montgomery General Hospital. It also addresses the secondary question concerning the relationship between the quantity and quality of biodiversity, green infrastructure, and psychological well being. To produce a design that addresses this question, the author performed a literature review along with research methods such as site inventory and analysis, a preoccupancy assessment tool for gardens, a survey, and a focus group.


Xiaojin Ren 

A Nature Space for Wellness: Outdoor Design for the Villa Rosa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center 

Compared with other age groups, seniors are more physically vulnerable and more likely to experience feelings such as boredom, helplessness, and loneliness (Cooper Marcus & Sachs, 2014). Living in long-term care facilities such as assisted living and nursing homes may worsen the situation, leading to feelings of dehumanization, fear, discomfort, and under-stimulation (Dahlkvist et al., 2016; Verderber & Fine, 2000). Well-designed outdoor spaces that encourage interaction with nature benefit senior residents both psychologically and physically, promoting rehabilitation and making their lives more enjoyable. Currently, residents at the Villa Rosa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, lack suitable environments for outdoor activities. In this thesis, the back courtyard and the front entrance are redesigned to maximize nature’s healing restorative effects for the residents, accommodating seniors’ particular needs and increasing the usability of both sites.


Hannah Savio

After the Flood: Designing Land Reuse in New York's Hudson Valley

Flooding is a recurring event in the water cycle that has the potential to devastate what is in its path. Climate change is projected to make flooding worse in the Northeastern United States because of increased intensity of rainfall. An increase in the number of flooded homes where homeowners choose not to rebuild in place can be viewed as a symptom of climate change. These issues take place at the confluence of land and water, the balance of humans and our environment, and what can be learned from the past and from projections and models of the future. How can flooded sites that are not suitable for rebuilding be adaptively reused to leverage their ecological, social, and economic value? This question is assessed through a multi-scalar examination of a series of FEMA buyouts along the Kaaterskill Creek, a rural tributary to the Hudson River in New York.


Bridget Stokes

Designing for the People: A Participatory Design Approach for Duane Avenue Park

Health disparities in physical, psychological, and social well-being are known to exist among underserved and marginalized populations, and although it is widely accepted that public parks and green spaces can provide these benefits, underserved and minority communities are more likely to have an unequitable distribution of quality parks. Quality and maintenance of parks are important because neglect can create dangerous and unwelcoming spaces that diminish the value and benefits that these green spaces can provide for residents. Underserved communities cannot typically afford landscape architecture services and have historically been left out of the decision-making process when funding for parks have been distributed. One way that these injustices can be solved is through the work of non-profit community development organizations that utilize community engagement tools. Using a participatory design approach, this thesis explores how to redesign Duane Avenue Park, a neglected park located in south Baltimore, Maryland. The park design will be used by a local non-profit, the Greater Baybrook Alliance, to write proposals for grant funding for the future implementation of the Park. By researching literature related to this topic, performing site inventory and analysis, and conducting thorough stakeholder and community engagement through surveys, in-person events, and one-on-one interactions, I created a proposed site plan that addressed the following design goals: Goal 1: Improve Perception of Safety & Discourage Negative Uses Goal 2: Design an Adventure Park that Encourages Play and Connections with Nature Goal 3: Create Spaces for Gathering and other Activity Generators Goal 4: Incorporate Public Art While this is not meant to provide evidence that one park can resolve all the issues a community faces, it can show that parks can be part of a larger community strategy that can help to address some issues such as health disparities, safety, and environmental justice.


Kelsey Moody

A Study into the Application of Occupational Therapy Theoretical Framework in a Public Space Design for Kirkwood Neighborhood Park

The discipline of landscape architecture and the profession of occupational therapy both aim to improve the quality of life for people and communities by removing environmental barriers for people in their everyday lives and increasing the compatibility of people with the environments they occupy. This is especially important in urban environments, where there are a multitude of barriers to green space and natural elements, including accessibility, safety, and proximity. All people, regardless of age, ability, demographic, or location, deserve access to environments that improve health and wellbeing. By working with occupational therapy practitioners in an interdisciplinary context to integrate the foundational goals of occupational therapy in design, landscape architects can create environments that improve health and wellbeing in ways that target the user group to promote engagement in meaningful activities. By doing so, landscape architects have the capacity to improve health for individuals and communities on a micro-level, while also addressing macro-level issues of environmental and occupational justice to provide accessible spaces that allow people to participate in ways that are personally meaningful to them. This research design thesis focuses on user-centered design to create a public space for the community surrounding Kirkwood Neighborhood Park, located in Hyattsville, MD.


Sebastian Velez-Lopez

Activating a 60's Modernist Plaza Using the Principles of Human Scale Design: Re-imagining HUD Plaza

Population growth has increased rapidly across many large American cities in the last 20 years. The growing population generates a need for quality public open space, but it also increases the development of housing making land increase drastically in value, making it harder for municipalities to acquire land for public open space projects. One strategy that cities can use to address this issue, is to leverage existing public spaces that are currently underutilized. This project explores the contemporary principles of public space and human scale design through a review of the existing literature. The principles gathered from the literature, are demonstrated by using them as the basis for re-imagining an underutilized urban public space. The project establishes a link between the research on public space design and practice, providing an example of how it can be used to create innovative ways to better utilize our existing public spaces.



Audrey Fann


Pollinators are a crucial part of our ecosystem providing benefits for plant reproduction, plant diversity and agricultural crops. Pollinator habitats are constantly under threat due to human activity including pesticide use, land use change and development, pollution, and climate change. With an increase of development there is also a decrease in connectivity between natural habitats which causes habitat fragmentation and a loss of pollinators. This thesis suggests that by using landscape ecology principles and other research, a design framework that provides 1) connectivity between existing natural areas, and 2) increasing vegetation community diversity will lead to increased quantity and quality of pollinator habitat and thus more overall pollinators. This design framework is demonstrated in a case study in Hidalgo County, Texas in the Rio Grande River basin.




Alison Kimber Sachs

Confluence Community Park: A Framework for Sensory Landscape Design

The human mind and body evolved in a sensory world steeped in light, sound, odor, wind, weather, water, vegetation, animals, and landscapes. In an increasingly urbanized and digitized world, it is critical that human beings sustain this close association with nature. Developments in the biological sciences over the past-half century have demonstrated our interdependence with the environment. Landscape architects can apply research in sensory perception to create an immersive experience of environmental attributes that fosters well-being, community, and stewardship. This thesis was developed in three phases: first, to understand what research in environmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience reveals about how we perceive the environment through our senses; second, to derive from this research a framework for sensory landscape design; and third, to apply this framework to the design of a community park that connects the Green Meadows and Chillum neighborhoods at the confluence of Sligo Creek and the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River in Chillum, Maryland.


Matthew G Rausch

Incorporating Complete Streets Principles into Main Streets of America's Rural Small - Towns: A Design Case Study in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota

This research thesis suggests that Complete Streets principles, and other related current street design principles and best practices, can complement the National Main Street Center’s design approach for use in rural small towns. The addition of these principles would strengthen the design component for the Main Street approach. Since the scope of current street design guidelines and principles are so broad, targeting the key principles of these programs, provides an appropriate level of detail to add to the Main Street design process. The resultant design proposals, using an improved design framework, could be scalable in both cost and implementation to accommodate the needs and the means of rural small towns. Sleepy Eye, Minnesota is used as a case study to demonstrate how the principles and elements of this approach can be scalable and flexible to improve a selected small-town main street. Complete Street principles and related street design best practices are a useful first step for rural small-town Main Street designs.


Christopher Samoray


Climate change threatens to disrupt human communities and lifestyles globally. Coastal areas in particular face sea-level rise and storm surge issues. Identifying design procedures for climate change design could promote successful implementation and long-term sustainability. Based on existing literature, a set of design criteria is formed to guide the implementation of nature-based design in response to projected sea-level rise in East Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. The design criteria address socio-ecological factors of landscape, planning and design for adaptation and resilience, communicating climate change, and design performance evaluation. The design criteria inform a site design focused on adapting with projected sea-level rise. The design is cross-evaluated with the criteria for robustness. The project connects research with practice by creating a design-science feedback loop and provides a platform for innovative solutions in climate change design in national parks and other landscapes threatened by issues of sea-level rise.


Christian Romero

Memoria En Capas

This thesis targets La Union, El Salvador, specifically the village of Huisquil, a harbor town that faces poverty and unhealthy living conditions. The goal is to build a safer, cheaper, and more sustainable home alternative for impoverished communities by using 3D printing technology as the main construction method. The thesis employs social media such as Facebook Groups in the region and Instagram Polls to determine major design decisions. The homes will respect the culture by using native materials mixed with concrete to contour new homes that employ phenomenology or an architectural approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience with a focus on light, vegetation, water and air. Traditional home building methods are inefficient, wasteful, and cost much more. The 2001 earthquake, economic turmoil and political unrest has affected thousands of families and this thesis focuses on how the layered home can serve as a modular beacon that encourages tranquility and stability within the community. The technological advancements will be used in a humanitarian way to protect this community through the architecture of homes.


Emma Podietz

Applying Vegetation Dynamics Theory to the Long-Term Ecological Design and Management of Urban Public Parks: Upper Long Branch Stream Valley, Maryland

Calls for ecological applications in landscape architecture have increased as the world faces compounding crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and human disconnection with natural systems. Landscape architects are uniquely situated to address these crises as practitioners who engage at multiple scales with ecological systems, placemaking, and land use planning. A sustainability ethic exists within the discipline, but ecological principles and theory are inconsistently applied in built work. Vegetation dynamics theory generalizes the mechanisms of plant community change over time, and presents a useful framework for the planting design, long-term adaptive management, and stewardship of urban parks. The principles of the theory can be interwoven with ecological and aesthetic goals of designed landscapes. This thesis demonstrates how centering vegetation dynamics theory in urban park design can enhance ecological function of urban landscapes, create heightened place attachment through aesthetic and interpretive experience, and guide the long-term management and stewardship of urban ecosystems in the Mid-Atlantic United States.


Lauren Reed Gray

SOUND OF THE CITY: Creating a balanced sound composition in urban green spaces

Sounds in the landscape are an important, and an often-ignored aspect of the human experience. In urban landscapes, the sounds in the landscape create a symphony. Combining the beloved sounds of nature and humans, with the often less desirable, but no less important sounds of traffic and sirens. This thesis aims to put that symphony of sounds and its relationship to the landscape under the microscope. By first looking into the theories of composers John Cage and R. Murray Schafer, and then applying those theories to the soundscape and landscape, the exploration and examination of the conscious, subconscious, beautiful, and necessary, as it pertains to soundscape and landscape design, will be revealed.



Afruz Rahmati


Nature can play a vital role in people’s health. The need to access nature, and the barriers to doing so, change with each stage of life. Research highlights the importance of access to the outdoors and engagement with nature for older adults in achieving physical and psychological well-being. As people live longer and the senior population grows, there is increasing demand for well-designed residential communities that maximize residents’ health and quality of life. It is particularly important to find solutions that afford access to nature for those facilities. This thesis explores the role that landscape architecture can play in improving the quality of life for seniors at residential facilities, retirement centers and nursing homes. The project employs research-informed strategies for providing safe, easy and rewarding access to nature at the Friends House Retirement Community in Sandy Spring, Maryland. A literature review, site visits, and site inventory and analysis led to development of a design proposal that affords a restorative outdoor environment for Friends House where residents can engage with nature and each other. The site’s significant natural and cultural resources are preserved and amplified.

Sherry Russel


The value of open space is a fundamental issue in landscape architecture. In post-industrial cities, population decline and low land demand have led to a large amount of vacant land. A small percentage of this land is being transformed by community groups into Community Managed Open Spaces (CMOSs). This research paper investigated the effect of parks and CMOSs on residential house sale prices in Baltimore, MD using a hierarchical regression analysis after controlling for property features and neighborhood social, economic and crime information. This study found CMOSs had a positive economic effect on house sale prices, adding 2.7% to properties sold within a quarter mile. These results provide evidence to support CMOSs as an alternative path for communities and planners to manage vacant urban land and the importance of public investment in these types of spaces.

Sarah Turner

A Wildlife Crossing Model for the Golden Lion Tamarin

The golden lion tamarin is an endangered species endemic to the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. In the 1970’s, their population was only a few hundred individuals due to anthropogenic reasons, such as fragmentation, deforestation, poaching and hunting. Over time with conservation measures, their population grew, and is currently around 2,516 individuals. This number, however, is not stable. As a major highway, BR-101, continues to widen, populations of golden lion tamarins continue to be isolated, resulting in inbreeding and lack of allele transfer. Golden lion tamarins are known to avoid crossing roads, so an alternate solution must be implemented. That alternate solution is a wildlife crossing. Building a wildlife crossing over BR-101 to connect currently isolated populations of golden lion tamarins will allow for genetic exchange and will eventually stabilize the golden lion tamarin population.

Sarah Wallace


There has been a rising trend of mental health issues among college students. Studies have shown that time spent engaged in nature activities such as forest bathing can improve physical and mental health. Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, originated in Japan and is the practice of walking through the forest and processing all of its elements through sensory observation. As a designated arboretum, the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park campus possesses an untapped resource that can increase greenspace exposure for UMD students and open the doors to forest bathing opportunities. Through a literature review and site inventory and analysis, I have developed a design that centers around forest bathing practices and infuses the principles of Nature Rx@UMD, an initiative that prioritizes the natural environmental benefits of UMD campus. The Campus Creek Nature Rx@UMD site invites users to slow down, notice elements of the forest for mindful awareness and be restored.


Katherine Ferguson


This design-research thesis explores the educational benefits of outdoor experiential learning for children, particularly in urban areas, and proposes a redesign of a 100-acre urban park to serve as an educational resource. This thesis first develops a theoretical framework based on research that nature can have restorative effects on attention that improve learning and behavior (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; Kaplan, 1995; Matsuoka, 2010). The focus of this thesis is Oxon Run Park located in Southeast Washington, DC. The proposed redesign includes educational spaces that can be visited and experienced by the local community or school classes, while focus areas at targeted locations concentrate educational resources that can enhance classroom learning. The research and redesign of Oxon Run Park addresses the question of how public spaces can be designed to serve as educational resources.

Pamela Parker


Lower income urban rowhouse neighborhoods are often treeless with only narrow sidewalks separating the front door from the street. This thesis explores the opportunity to capitalize on the predicted shift from private automobile ownership to fleets of autonomous vehicles and the subsequent significant drop in parking demand. Space previously designated as parking lanes can be converted into continuous tree planting strips and social spaces along inner-city residential streets. In this thesis, I propose three streetscape models utilizing the space no longer needed for parking: 1) the James Street Private Model that designs a 10’ wide continuous tree planting strip, allowing trees, gardens and patios to be installed along the foot of the rowhouse steps; 2) the James Street Public Model that creates the same tree strip design but positions it between the sidewalk and the street; and 3) the Shared Street Model, set along a narrower alley street, that forms a meandering road shared with pedestrians, public spaces and trees. These streetscape improvements directly address the quality of life of the residents by enhancing their safety and security, physical surroundings, social relations and health.

Lotoia Simpson


Habitat restoration is useful to address the loss of amphibian and reptile habitats in the built environment. Golf courses provide the opportunity to implement best management practices and best development practices features to improve habitats for amphibians and reptiles. In addition, golf courses, through creative programming offer opportunities to provide education about amphibians and reptiles. This research project focuses on the application of vernal pools and regenerative stream conveyance (RSC) interventions for Langston Golf Course, a historically designated golf course in Washington, D.C. In addition, the implementation of additional programming allows for educational opportunities about amphibians and reptiles for expanded variety of users beyond golfers.

Karen Zhang

Westport Waterfront: An Alternative Approach to Post-Industrial Rejuvenation in Baltimore

Abandoned post-industrial sites are often seen as a representation of pollution and desolation. The neighborhoods near these sites, which no longer employ the local citizenry, often struggle with crime, unemployment and decaying residential and commercial properties. Nevertheless, post-industrial sites can contain some of the most interesting histories of the city and should be viewed as an opportunity for the local community to redevelop with meaning and purpose in a sustainable way. Like many post-industrial area, the Westport neighborhood in Baltimore struggles with crime, unemployment, housing abandonment and a lack of commercial properties, and is redesigned in thesis to explore how post-industrial site redevelopment can reconnect residents with waterfront and revive communities. This thesis will explore the options for establishing an equitable, viable and productive community that contributes to the well-being of the existing population through the reuse of the post-industrial waterfront property.


Jennifer Ren

Choreographing a Greenway: Exploring Experiential Diversity Through Choreographic Dance Principles

Successful parks provide a rich assortment of experiences that stimulate the body, senses, and emotions. Another way to describe this quality is the term experiential diversity. While experiential diversity is rarely addressed explicitly in typical greenway designs, its implementation is vitally important in order to increase engagement and activate space. The Anacostia riverfront in Washington, D.C. suffers from a severe lack of experiential diversity and is redesigned in this thesis to explore how experiential diversity can enhance greenway design using choreographic dance principles. Many dance principles can be applied to design. By approaching park design as a choreographer of dance, a designer can focus on the human experiences –how materiality and the environment influence movement, senses, and emotions. This thesis demonstrates how dance can be successfully translated into the landscape, and how choreographic dance principles are helpful tools for creating a diverse and engaging landscape composition.

Matthew Zerfas


Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC) is a moderately new best management practice primarily implemented in the mid-Atlantic region. This thesis documents the proposed design of an RSC at Parkdale High School in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. A degraded channel with incised banks between 9 to 12 feet in height was found on site. This stormwater channel runs for 160 feet and has a contributing catchment of 17.2 acres. The proposed RSC was designed to stabilize the channel banks, and create a stable channel profile. The runoff storage volume was calculated to be 4523.1 ft3 total which would treat a runoff volume of 0.24”. This equates to 32% TN, 37% TP and 40% TSS removal. The design provides a viewing area with a photo point and bank pin that would provide an opportunity for students and teachers to assist in visually documenting sediment deposition and geomorphological changes that may occur.

Joshua Franklin


This paper discusses preeminent ecological issues attributable to human development which negatively affect pollinator population sizes and diversity, and suggests design solutions to mitigate them. Under particular scrutiny is the perpetuation of monoculture landscapes. The problems with this ubiquitous practice include increased pesticide and herbicide use, lack of habitat and forage for pollinators, and reduced soil quality. In an effort to attenuate these threats, this thesis proposes two redesigns of University of Maryland campus lawn spaces into designed native plant communities. In these designs, native plants have been arranged in ways that reduce maintenance and provide ecological benefits by considering the unique roles each of them fill in their natural environment. Other strategies, such as defining borders around the habitat and placing smaller plants near the edges, were also implemented in order to positively influence the public’s view of these more naturalized designed systems and encourage adoption.

Avantika Dalal


Trail and Transit Oriented Development is a new neighborhood planning and design concept. Trail and transit-oriented developments are high-density, mixed-use communities around public transit stations connected by trails (off-road shared use paths) and a dense network of pedestrian-friendly streets. This concept addresses the lack of pedestrian and bike-friendly design often characterized by suburban sprawl and the resultant lack of physical activity characterized by Americans. Car dependent suburban development promotes sedentary lifestyles. On the other hand, walkable and bike-friendly communities provide opportunities for active living. Neighborhoods designed with the concept of Trail and Transit Oriented Development have a network of trails connecting public amenities, major destinations, new development, and existing neighborhoods. This research project focuses on applying trail and transit-oriented design and planning principles to the Long Branch Sector Plan. There are two proposed Purple Line light rail stops within the boundary of Long Branch Sector. The proposed design provides an increase in trail length and connectivity. It creates a built environment for active living by creating opportunities for walking and bicycling in everyday life.

Laura Robinson


This design investigation explores the duality of landscape architecture to be both a tool for healing survivors of sexual violence and a mechanism for spreading awareness to the general population at the University of Maryland. To design the site, a literature review of healing gardens and case studies were undertaken to uncover the parameters for successfully designing with the restorative properties of nature and healing garden techniques. To understand how to apply this research to redesign the site, Morrill Quad was inventoried and analyzed. The result is a space where awareness and restorative elements are merged to promote the healing of individuals and the community. By utilizing the restorative qualities of nature with healing garden design techniques, the space creates opportunities for stress reduction and mental restoration for all users. The concept of a monument is re-imagined from one object symbolizing an event or person to an entire space representing a movement and those that support it. This monument space serves as an educational piece, a place to embody survivors’ voices, and a restorative environment for survivors and students.

Jorah Reinstein

Toward Conservation of Magnolia Bogs on Utility Rights-Of-Way: Increasing Imageability

Magnolia Bogs are a rare wetland type known only to the gravelly sands of the inner Chesapeake Bay watershed. Scattered across upland landscapes just east of the fall-line, these habitats occur where lenses of clay intersect the rolling terrain and groundwater seeps along the faces of hillsides. Most Magnolia Bogs have been lost to development, but remnant habitats have in several cases been inadvertently preserved on lands managed to support that very development – utility rights-of-way. Magnolia Bogs have become the focus of targeted conservation efforts, but despite intentions, bog remnants on rights-of-way often go unrecognized by maintenance crews and are unintentionally damaged during management procedures, particularly mowing. By adopting the perspective of a mower in the field, the patterns and forms of that experience are investigated. Cognitive mapping concepts are then applied to create suggestions for increasing the apparency of magnolia bogs to maintenance crews.

Reza Mabadi


During the 18th and 19th centuries, planners, and medical reformists emphasized the restorative effects of natural settings in healthcare facilities. Then, in the 19th and 20th centuries, many hospitals campuses across the United States extensively applied therapeutic landscapes in their designs. While the architectural history of hospitals has been studied thoroughly, the gardens of healthcare institutions have not been independently investigated. In the 20th century, socio-cultural changes and modern technologies caused a degradation of therapeutic landscapes in hospitals. Today, new approaches to medicine and health necessitate a reexamination and reinvention of hospital landscapes in order to better align hospital atmospheres with modern healthcare goals. The goal of this dissertation research is to understand the transformation of hospital landscapes, their evolution and degradation within their socio-cultural context during the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. This study will also addresses the broad concept of therapeutic landscapes and holistic approaches to using hospital gardens for restorative purposes. Therefore, this research aims to redefine the therapeutic landscape in healthcare facilities by proposing ideas to expand their socio – cultural capacities and extend their therapeutic properties beyond conventional practice. This research hypothesizes that throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States, the therapeutic landscape in hospitals was degraded, and that the reemergence of conventional landscape practices is insufficient to address the whole healing properties of hospital sites. To achieve the stated goal, this research applied a qualitative approach through a case study method. Data collection was conducted via a triangulation strategy, and included semi- structural interviews, content analysis, and an extensive literature review. In analyzing the collected data, I used thick description, spatial-comparative analysis, and content analysis integrated into a holistic framework, in order to examine both historical and modern practices. Analysis of results concluded that throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the therapeutic hospital landscapes in the United States became degraded due to the introduction of new technologies. In addition, the reemergence of conventional landscape practices, such as small healing gardens, does not fully address the restorative potential of hospital sites. Therefore, many new possibilities need to be explored and implemented.


Renee LaGue

Wild to Wildscape: Designing the Urban Wild

Urban wasteland, terrain vague, postindustrial site, urban wild and wildscape: these are but a few of the terms describing sites which have been disturbed by humans and contain novel or spontaneous vegetation. In this thesis, I investigate the literature for examples of how designers can act upon these sites such that they provide the social, environmental, and artistic benefits of being ‘designed’ without destroying existing vegetative wildness and historical traces. I organize 35 terms into three categories describing the spaces as either negative, empty, or by vegetation type. I find that most design suggestions lie along three axes: history, vegetation, and access/interactivity, along with a general principle of ‘minimal intervention.’ Finally, I synthesize the literature review and precedents and apply what I have found to a test design site, a portion of a former railroad right of way in Alexandria, Virginia.

Charles Dylan Reilly

Walk Along the River: Community Design Process for the Norton Riverwalk

The City of Norton, nestled in Southwest Virginia’s coal country, has a proposed 2-mile Riverwalk running along the Guest River and connecting to an existing Safe Routes to School sidewalk. The designer employed informal interviews, a design charrette, and formal presentations during the summer of 2016 to better understand the challenges and opportunities for the Riverwalk. Design ideas from the community engagement process were triangulated and compared against the site analysis, to better understand which ideas had the most support and were feasible. The resulting design from this process focused on improving pedestrian connectivity; improving quality of life for residents and attracting visitors; and telling Norton’s history, from towering chestnuts to coal mining. The community engagement process reached about 145 people and produced media buzz for the project with four front-page articles in local and regional newspapers. The charrette brought residents from diverse perspectives to the design table.

Che Wei Yi

Transforming Vacant Land: A Green Infrastructure Master Plan for the Neighborhood of Druid Heights, Baltimore

Vacant properties often become an invitation for crime, dumping, and other unwanted activities and are associated with lower property values; increased municipal costs; and poorer health outcomes. However, vacancy can be viewed as an asset for the community and an opportunity for productive reuse. Well-maintained urban green spaces can reduce crime, strengthen social ties, and improve physical and mental health. The green infrastructure master plan for the neighborhood of Druid Heights is a response to findings from the site inventory and analysis and the community and stakeholder engagement process, which indicate a lack of recreational and natural amenities, poor public health outcomes, and high crime rates. By improving access to recreational and natural amenities and creating a connected series of green spaces, the design of this thesis addresses the high vacancy rate of Druid Heights and promotes recreation and social interaction to improve the public health outcomes of neighborhood residents.

Katelin Posthuma

Kintsugi: A New Framework For Post-Industrial Transformation

This thesis uses the Morse Chain factory in Ithaca, New York as a testing ground for the development and exploration of the kintsugi framework as a method for transformation of large-scale postindustrial sites. Deindustrialization has had a profoundly destabilizing effect on many communities that were depended on industry. Abandoned industrial facilities are one of the primary visual markers of deindustrialization. Landscape architects employ two strategies for reclaiming these spaces - the conceal/camouflage approach or the reveal/reinterpret approach. These two approaches are typically presented in opposition to each other, which limits the design potential of these sites The kintsugi framework blends these two operating modes, creating an exciting and interesting operating field for the transformation of post-industrial sites. Based on the traditional Japanese method of repairing broken pottery with gold inlay. This technique incorporates damage as the central element for metamorphosis and change.


Nathan Allen

Mowing To Growing: Transforming A Municipal Golf Course to Urban Agriculture In Baltimore City

This thesis demonstrates how landscape architects can transform underused golf course facilities located within cities for urban agriculture (UA). In the last decade more than 1000 golf courses have closed in the United States. Municipal golf courses represent some of the largest pieces of open space in cities and because of their inherent infrastructure they can provide the ideal location to support large-scale UA. In Southwest Baltimore large food deserts are a serious health concern and represent a lack of access to healthy food options for residents. Carroll Urban Agriculture Park is a design response resulting from a detailed analysis of the existing Carroll Park Golf Course and the surrounding community of Southwest Baltimore. The design will create an urban farm in a park-like setting to provide readily accessible healthy food options and various educational opportunities, and to support current and future urban agriculture related businesses in Baltimore.

Kathleen Hayes

Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance: Design Implications Of An Urban Case Demonstration in Baltimore, Maryland

This research-design thesis explores the implementation of Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance (RSC) as a retrofit of an existing impervious drainage system in a small catchment in the degraded Jones Falls watershed in Baltimore City. An introduction to RSC is provided, placing its development within a theoretical context of novel ecosystems, biomimicry and Nassauer and Opdam’s (2008) model of landscape innovation. The case site is in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood on City-owned land adjacent to rowhomes, open space and an access point to a popular wooded trail along a local stream. The design proposal employs RSC to retrofit an ill-performing stormwater system, simultaneously providing a range of ecological, social and economic services; water quantity, water quality and economic performance of the proposed RSC are quantified. While the proposed design is site-specific the model is adaptable for retrofitting other small-scale impervious drainage systems, providing a strategic tool in addressing Baltimore City’s stormwater challenges.

Jun Jiang

A More Complete Street A Street For Everyone To Enjoy, North East Street, Frederick, Maryland - A Design Investigation Of Different Street Design Theories

This design-research thesis suggests that the improvement of North East Street performances by using Complete Streets, Green Street, Place Making and Context Sensitive Solution principles and practices. Heavily used by a variety of users, often conflicting with one another, University of Maryland Campus Drive would benefit from a major planning and design amelioration to meet the increasing demands of serving as a city main street. The goal of this thesis project is to prioritize the benefits for pedestrians in the right-of-way and improve the pedestrian experience. This goal also responds to the recent North East Street Extension Phrase I of economic renaissances. The goal of this design-research thesis will be achieved focusing on four aspects. First, the plans and designs will suggest to building mixed use blocks, increase the diversity of street economic types and convenience of people’s living. Second, design and plans will propose bike lanes, separate driving lanes from sidewalks and bike lanes by street tree planters, and narrow driving lanes to reduce vehicular traffic volume and speed in order to reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflicts. Third, plans and designs will introduce bioswales, living walls and rain gardens to treat and reuse rain water. Finally, the plans and designs will seek to preserve local culture and history by adding murals and farmers market. The outcome of the design-research thesis project is expected to serve as an example of implementing Complete Streets, Green Street, Place Making and Context Sensitive Solution principles and practices in urban landscape, where transportation, environment and social needs interact with each other.

Amina Mohamed

Shifting Scales, Adjusting Lenses: A Framework For Investigating Baltimore's Urban Vacancy

This thesis addresses contemporary gaps of vacancy within literature by using qualitative and quantitative methods and tools to determine the quantity, location, and interspatial relationships of vacant buildings and lots located in Baltimore Maryland. Spatial analyses were conducted to answer three questions of vacancy: 1) how many vacant lots and buildings exist, 2) whether there are spatial patterns of vacancy, such as clustering around geographic locations or within watersheds, and 3) how to prioritize intervention opportunities that respond to the city's larger issues? Using the city’s vacant lot and building data-sets, two concepts emerged from these investigations. First, Utilized Landscapes as a classification system that identifies lands that serve a function but have un-traditional qualities that make them susceptible to being labeled “vacant.” Second, the development of Transitional Zones, geographical areas with a high density of vacant buildings or lots that should be prioritized.

George Sorvalis

Maximizing Landscape Performance At Adventist Hospital: Healing The People, Healing Sligo Creek

This paper answers the question of whether a design intervention on Washington Adventist Hospital’s Takoma Park campus can combine stormwater Best Management Practices with outdoor healing spaces, to improve the health of the local creek (Sligo Creek) while creating a restorative environment for the hospital community. To improve the health of Sligo Creek, a campus-wide stormwater analysis was undertaken, in addition to an intervention-site-specific stormwater analysis, and a literature review of stormwater best management practices. To create a restorative environment, a literature review of healing gardens was undertaken, in addition to a campus-wide site analysis, to uncover the most ideally suited site to create a restorative environment.

Nicholas Yoder

Changing Course: Repurposing Golf Landscapes for Wildlife Habitat and Recreation

More than 1,400 golf facilities in the United States have closed permanently since 2001, part of a natural supply correction, as well as a reflection of the fluctuating interest in the game. Through their design, golf courses inherently preserve a singular form of open, green space. In their most dynamic form, they are culturally integral landscapes with vibrant ecosystems that provide wildlife habitat. They represent some of the largest ‘undeveloped’ spaces in United States’ cities. Each golf course closing represents a single patch of many that, with sound design, could be woven together through a common purpose, like a landscape quilt. Through a site-specific analysis, the resulting design proposal for Wakefield Wildlife Reservation is a new type of landscape for the city of Westminster, MD, serving as an example for future projects. It will provide valuable habitat and dynamic recreational space, while expressing site and regional history.


Robyn Edwards

Choice Experiments and Design Decision-Making

There is a growing interest in evidence-based design in landscape architecture. This is an exploratory study of the choice experiment method: an economic approach used by many other disciplines but not yet landscape architecture, to collect empirical evidence on the public's preferences for different landscape design characteristics. A choice experiment was conducted for an open space development in downtown Baltimore. The outcomes of the experiment provided a basis for the design of a downtown surface parking lot into a public open space. Design decisions were made with better clarity and confidence that the design solution could maximize utility and value to the public.

Jonathan Gemmell

Rethinking Playgrounds: A Design Investigation of Playscape Theory

This thesis studies how playscapes and nature play offer alternatives to traditional playground designs by encouraging multiple facets of childhood development. Playscapes promote play spaces that integrate physical, mental, and educational features. Harnessing the malleability of the natural landscape provides clear developmental advantages that surpass traditional structure-based playground design and provide opportunities for building environmental literacy. After combining research with feedback taken from site users, a design will be proposed for the exterior of Riverdale Elementary School, in Riverdale Maryland. Anacostia Watershed Society has received a grant for implementing stormwater controls and improving the quality of the nearby Wells Run stream. The design of this project will show how it will be possible to combine playscape, nature play, and environmental literacy goals with stormwater storage and treatment to transform the school's environment.

Harris Trobman


The focus of this thesis is the design and implementation of a community health project at a new school campus for 600 students in St. Louis Du Norde, Haiti. The design harvests and filters rainwater to drinking water standards, grows nutritional vegetable crops on secure rooftops, creates social space, and recycles old tires, plastic bottles and rice sacks that otherwise pose a massive solid waste problem in Haiti. The processes are also taught to the students so they can take and use the planters at home. The materials for building the growing containers and the growing media are all free and made from local wastes (tires, plastic bottles, rice sacks, manure, soil etc.). They are easy to build and free to construct making them accessible to even to the poorest and neediest families in Haiti. The idea is to develop easily replicable and desirable solutions to the basic health needs.


Nancy Britt

Greenway as the Framework for Community Design on the Patapsco River Valley

By the nature of their shared locality, greenway corridors and the communities along them share a unique set of socio-cultural and ecological resources that are rooted in the greenway's landscape form and character. When unified, greenways and surrounding communities foster a sense place that is deeply site specific. This thesis explores the unique characteristics of greenway landscapes, using them as a basis for formulating cohesive design criteria for creating vibrant greenway-adjacent communities. These criteria offer solutions for balancing growth and conservation strategies to guide community design within the framework of the greenway, achieve community and greenway sustainability, and support the integrity of the landscape. Using a site along Maryland's Patapsco River Valley, this thesis demonstrates how these criteria can work towards achieving an ideal community form where design highlights unique site features to create awareness of and support for the greenway context.

Shoshanah Haberman

The Micro -Landscape Modular Urban Apartment Gardens

This thesis proposes affordable and adaptable modular balcony and patio gardens as a way to mitigate the increasing alienation between urban apartment renters and the land. These modules would adapt the concept of a garden to the compact reality of urban densification with an aim towards mitigation of urban stresses and improved well-being of apartment renters. Large-scale implementation would have environmental benefits, including stormwater capture and treatment, pollution control and heat island effect mitigation. This thesis design also has the potential to encourage renters, garden supply retailers, landscape professionals, architects and developers to incorporate private gardens, on a more extensive basis, into the fabric of the urban built environment.  

Paul Jester

Shifting Gears: Exploring Parametric Design to Renovate an Urban Waterfront

A powerful tool currently being used by architects and planners, parametric design has yet to be embraced by landscape architects. Through research and design, this thesis seeks to answer two questions: what is parametric design and how can it benefit the field of landscape architecture? Looking at historical and present-day sources, the evolution of computer aided design has been drawn out leading to the emergence of parametric design. An explanation and analysis of parametric tools, including a series of case studies, has been conducted to show how these tools are presently being utilized by designers. Utilizing parametric methods and tools, a design proposal was created to renovate a waterfront site in Baltimore, MD that focused on highlighting the city history and promoting health for the local residents and inner harbor.

Amy Marin

Operation Market Garden: Establishing a Sustainable Food System in West Baltimore's Poppleton Neighborhood

Food deserts and food insecurity are public health concerns, associated with negative health outcomes for children and adults and connected to poverty, racial disparities, and other social inequalities. Urban agriculture offers one solution to the food accessibility issues in West Baltimore. Besides the initial purpose of food production, urban agriculture can play an important role in contributing at varying scales to the social interactions and economic viability of communities. These multifunctional landscapes can be used as design solutions for challenges posed by urban development. This thesis explores the roles that landscape architecture and urban agriculture can play in improving food environments for schools, families, and communities located in urban food deserts. This investigation examines urban agricultural planning strategies that address food accessibility issues and yield fresh produce, while also providing valuable public open space for community members. This project applies these strategies to the West Baltimore neighborhood of Poppleton to offer a critique of proposed urban agriculture solutions.

Adriana Mendoza

Anacostia: Community As Form

The essence of this thesis is to explore what form public art takes on in order to visualize Anacostia's community identity during the urban revitalization of the neighborhood. The current small and large-scale revitalization efforts by the City (Washington D.C.) are showing change in both the physical and social fabric of the community and neighborhood. As a predominantly African American community that has faced disinvestment and injustices--socially, economically, and politically--many residents are concerned that these City efforts will physically displace them, as well as the collective memory of the community. This thesis seeks to transform a vacant lot, slated for development, into a temporary, transient, multi-functional public art design for engaging the community in the process of exploration and expression of their community identity. Public art is used as a strategy to provide a platform for residents to effectively become present, visible and audible at a time when many residents feel as though they are not part of Anacostia's future.

Joshua Silverstein

Parchment to Touchscreen: Landscape Journey and Experience for 21st Century Learning

Experiences of landscape journey are informed and mitigated by modalities of place-based practices. Historically, documentation and transmission of landscape knowledge was limited to narratives of those with power and influence. Today, the democratization of power and decentralization of knowledge, particularly as affected by technology, are projected to affect powerful changes for our future. This project creates innovation in place-based learning through an interdisciplinary approach combining landscape design for outdoor learning environments with collaborative curriculum development. Educators from Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, VA were involved in this collaboration that has yielded an exciting, fresh approach to engaging student relationships to landscape. Students connect to narratives of landscape journey and experience in Jewish tradition while engaging in guided personal explorations of place. In the process, new wisdom, the "Torah of Place," is generated, documented and transmitted through both traditional sense-of-place activities and pedagogies integrating modern mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets.

Elisabeth Walker

Exploring Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Sustainability. How Cultural and Social Factors Inform a Sustainable Redesign of Whitmore Park (Annapolis, MD).

Even though sustainability is defined by four parameters - ecological, economic, social and cultural, sustainable design is essentially reduced to ecological and economic aspects (Nadenicek et al., 2000). That narrowed focus ignores those, on whom sustainable development depends on: people and their physical manifestation, culture. Sustainable design depends on both economic and ecological health, cultural vitality (Lister, 2007) and stewardship. When sustainable development does not encourage stewardship, it is prone to fail in the long term (Nassauer, 2011). This design-research thesis focuses on the socio-cultural aspects of sustainable design and the role of participatory engagement in identifying the social and cultural layers of Whitmore Park. It explores how cultural and social factors can inform a sustainable redesign of the neglected 0.7-acre Whitmore Park in Annapolis, MD. The project also helps the community to save the park´s existence through creating a common, sustainable long-term vision for it. In order to create that vision, the designer used various community engagement methods to reconnect the communities to their plaza, and to explore socio-cultural sustainable design approaches. The park´s new aesthetics, functions and programming are driven by the results of the community engagements, as well as the SITEs (Sustainable Sites Initiative) design recommendations. The citizens´ involvement, as well as the socio-culturally sensitive and aesthetically pleasing design will foster a sense of community, and pride, which are important conditions for stewardship and therefore, sustainable development.

Travis Wierengo

REVIVAL THROUGH RESILIENCE: Small Craft Harbor Design within a Coastal Urban Community

Coastal communities along the Mid-Atlantic shoreline are facing difficult decisions moving forward into the 21st Century. The Rockaway Peninsula exemplifies many issues urban coastlines are facing. Environmental degradation, historic urban infill and development, a stagnant economy, and aging infrastructure, are only a few dilemmas communities along the Rockaway Peninsula are dealing with in the wake of the most current natural disaster that has left many questioning the future development of the area. This thesis explores what roles a Small Craft Harbor (SCH) could function as within an urban setting along the Atlantic coastline. The project will offer suggestions as to how programmatic elements within SCH development along the back bay shoreline of the Rockaway Peninsula, could serve to protect and enhance not only the human communities residing on the peninsula, but ecological systems fighting for survival within the back bay waters of the Jamaica Bay.


Risa Abraham

Revealing Risk & Redefining Development: Exploring Hurricane Impact on St. Croix, USVI

This thesis explores the direct and indirect role of landscape architecture in disaster risk reduction specifically focusing on designing and managing natural resources such as sun, wind and water as well as allocating infrastructure to improve the power and transportation system on the public, private and regulatory levels that can prove to endure the impact of a hurricane and promote a "culture of prevention." Every year a significant amount of damage is cause by natural disasters throughout the whole world. This highlighted the importance of mitigating the adverse impacts of disasters through the process of disaster risk reduction. The architecture, landscape architecture and urban design disciplines and the construction industry have a strong relationship with disaster management and therefore provide a high need in identifying how landscape architecture can contribute towards disaster risk reduction. This thesis focuses on the role of the design and construction industry, specifically the landscape architecture profession, in disaster risk reduction. A two-step approach was formalized to develop an understanding and to produce a design proposal based on the practice and theories of landscape architecture. The first step explores the definition of disasters and risk and provides a comprehensive literature review on disaster mitigation. The second step includes the systematic development and application of these policies, strategies and practices to limit or avoid the effects of hazards in the form of a three-tiered detailed design and mitigation plan. The findings from both steps will be applied to re-design the town of Christiansted, St. Croix, in the United States Virgin Islands.

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Ever wonder what kind of thesis projects our students worked on while here in our program? Check out the topics our students, now alumni, explored!

                                                             See Current Student Research 

Risa Abraham

Revealing Risk & Redefining Development: Exploring Hurricane Impact on St. Croix, USVI

This thesis explores the direct and indirect role of landscape architecture in disaster risk reduction specifically focusing on designing and managing natural resources such as sun, wind and water as well as allocating infrastructure to improve the power and transportation system on the public, private and regulatory levels that can prove to endure the impact of a hurricane and promote a "culture of prevention." Every year a significant amount of damage is cause by natural disasters throughout the whole world. This highlighted the importance of mitigating the adverse impacts of disasters through the process of disaster risk reduction. The architecture, landscape architecture and urban design disciplines and the construction industry have a strong relationship with disaster management and therefore provide a high need in identifying how landscape architecture can contribute towards disaster risk reduction. This thesis focuses on the role of the design and construction industry, specifically the landscape architecture profession, in disaster risk reduction. A two-step approach was formalized to develop an understanding and to produce a design proposal based on the practice and theories of landscape architecture. The first step explores the definition of disasters and risk and provides a comprehensive literature review on disaster mitigation. The second step includes the systematic development and application of these policies, strategies and practices to limit or avoid the effects of hazards in the form of a three-tiered detailed design and mitigation plan. The findings from both steps will be applied to re-design the town of Christiansted, St. Croix, in the United States Virgin Islands.

Sarah Capps Ashmun

Healing Invisible Wounds: Landscapes for Wounded Warriors Suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Characterized by pervasive symptoms of intrusion, numbing, and hyperarousal, coping with PTSD can be a tenacious and lifelong challenge for sufferers (Cahill and Foa 2010). Given the recent surge of war veterans resulting from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom with a high prevalence of PTSD, landscapes may provide a free and accessible means for veterans to successfully cope with their PTSD symptoms and seek treatment. The intention of this project is to merge holistic therapies for PTSD with successful landscapes for trauma patients into the creation of adaptable design principles. Guiding Principles for PTSD will be incorporated into the design of a Healing Woodland for wounded warriors at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, while also providing potential solutions for other sites aiming to incorporate holistic therapies for PTSD into the landscape.

Matthew Busa

Designing for the Shrinking City: Re-imagining Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, OH

Like many post-industrial cities in the Midwestern United States, Cleveland is shrinking. A decline in its manufacturing-based economy in the late 20th century has led to unemployment and outmigration, eroding the quality of life and economic stability of inner city neighborhoods. Traditional planning strategies that rely heavily on growth as a means of addressing shrinking city problems have proven to be somewhat ineffective. This thesis explores an alternative planning approach suggesting that Cleveland might successfully shrink into an archipelago of small, sustainable neighborhood islands while failed neighborhoods would be converted to productive "green belts". This project applies this approach to the site of an under-utilized municipal airport, proposing a new design that enhances the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of Downtown Cleveland. Specifically, the design solution promotes transit-oriented development, connects existing neighborhoods to the waterfront, cleans polluted water, and re-uses dredge material to create a recreational and ecological landscape.

Emilie Carroll Carter

Designing for Interpretive Signage: Best Practices for Increasing Attraction Power

Interpretive signage, murals, and art installations are an important element of passive outdoor education for those who do not have formal education or knowledge about how landscapes work. The inclusion of passive education in projects has become increasingly necessary as new types of green infrastructures such as rain gardens, bioswales, and floating wetlands, are introduced to the landscape. Landscape architects can contribute to educational efforts by including interpretive signage on a site. While this practice is being implemented among many sites around the United States, it is unclear how effective these installations are in educating the public - specifically adults. This thesis project takes an in-depth look at the effectiveness of interpretive signage located around low-impact design elements and proposes a set of best practices for designing sites with interpretive signage. To support the best practices, data is being collected at two sites with methods that include surveying site occupants, field observation of occupant interactions with signage, and interviews with project designers. Initial data analysis from the pilot study shows that interpretive signage does positively affect people's views on environmentally sensitive design, but a variety of factors such as signage location and visibility of installation can affect the percentage of people who read signage.

Mingyu Cui


This design-research thesis suggests that the improvement of campus roadway facilities using Complete Streets principle and practices can enhance the overall pedestrian experience. Campus Drive, one of the main arterials in the College Park campus of the University of Maryland, will be used as a case study. Heavily used by a variety of users, often conflicting with one another, University of Maryland Campus Drive would benefit from a major planning and design amelioration to meet the increasing demands of serving as a university main street. The goal of this thesis project is to prioritize the benefits for pedestrians in the right-of-way and improve the pedestrian experience on campus. This goal also responds to the recent Facilities Master Plan vision of building a more walkable campus. The goal of this design-research thesis will be achieved focusing on four aspects. First, design and plans will discourage cut-through driving to reduce vehicular traffic volume on Campus Drive in order to reduce pedestrian and vehicle conflicts. Second, plans and designs will clarify cyclists' use of the right-of-way and create a built environment that will reduce and hopefully eliminate current riding on pedestrian sidewalk. Third, the case study seeks to improve public transit facilities on Campus Drive to better serve users of which the majorities travel as pedestrians on campus. Finally, the case study seeks to improve pedestrian facilities to enhance pedestrian connectivity, accessibility, and overall experience on University of Maryland Campus Drive. Campus Drive roadway facilities will be inventoried. Roadway segments typologies will be identified and classified. A toolkit, road improvement design interventions, will be developed based on this classification. An improved master plan will be developed utilizing the toolkit while considering the specific site context around specific segments and the overall functions carried by Campus Drive as a campus main street. Detailed plans and designs will be developed for focus areas that demonstrate the goals and objectives. The outcome of the design-research thesis project is expected to serve as an example of implementing Complete Streets principles and practices in urban commuter university campuses, where transportation needs and institutional functions interact with each other.

Laura Kendrick

The Purposeful Edge: Designing for Wildlife Along the Anacostia River

As urbanization increases, many cities will reassess their land use policies and practices to establish a balance between densification and ecological sustainability. Creating and improving urban wildlife habitat can increase biodiversity and provide places for people to experience native vegetation and animals. Among the inspiring collection of culturally significant places, Washington, DC has many small reserve parks. For wildlife habitat to be sufficient, larger tracts are often needed. This thesis project capitalizes on one such expanse along the Anacostia River by proposing the area surrounding Robert F. Kennedy stadium and its parking lots become places where habitat is integrated into the urban fabric. Integration means creating spaces where humans and wildlife coexist, each enhancing the lives of the other by their interactions. Healthy ecosystems are a piece of the sustainability puzzle, and the future of the world's cities must include the application of ecological knowledge in designing urban spaces.

Wenjie Li


In 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), a "pollution diet", for the Chesapeake Bay watershed for six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia) and the District of Columbia. The EPA required responsible agencies to develop statewide Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to support the implementation for TMDLs. Previous planning efforts included the development of Subwatershed Action Plans (SWAPs), which provided a baseline of conditions, proposed tools for achieving TMDL reductions and visions for the subwatersheds. In 2012, the Phase II WIP process was developed to refine Phase I plans at the county level, including more local details about a variety of green infrastructure interventions to optimize nutrient and sediment load reductions. While green roofs were considered an important tool in the SWAP plans, they were not included in Prince George's County's Phase II WIP plans. Recently, Prince George's County has implemented a new green roof incentive policy. In light of this new policy, this research explores how green roofs might contribute to reducing TMDLs. The research uses Brier's Mill Run Subwatershed as a case study to demonstrate the benefits of both the incentives and the green roof as a tool in the SWAP plan. The objective of this research is first to document the specific role of green roofs in stormwater management in Brier's Mill Run Subwatershed. Secondly, the thesis provides three metrics to measure and compare the stormwater management benefits of each proposed institutional green roof in the research site. The third goal is to use a scenario approach to achieve school green roofs benefits that contribute to the stormwater management goals of the subwatershed.

Nicholas Patrick

Experiencing Temporary Artscapes

The focus of this thesis is on temporary artscapes - public installations that are originally-creative and intentionally-temporary in some way. A temporary art installation has the ability to quickly and clearly transform a place, increase our understanding and awareness of a particular site, and redefine and highlight the importance of public space. This design-research thesis proposes that temporary artscapes have the capacity to significantly alter the experience of a landscape. Through the investigation and evaluation of the theories, intentions and working methods of the artists, landscape architects, and architects involved in recent projects, this thesis explores the value of temporary artscapes in landscape-design. Two key research investigations assist this investigation. Designing the Experience explores the artistic process of designing a temporary installation, through the collaborative designing and building of a temporary art installation with a sixth-grade class at the British School of Washington. Experiencing the Design explores the experience of a temporary art installation from the perspective of the public audience, through the surveying of people during a temporary art installation in a prominent public space at the University of Maryland. The outcomes of the investigation and two research investigations determine my strategy in choosing a site within the University of Maryland campus in which to design and test a conceptual temporary artscape.

Erica Thum

Light in the Landscape

This design-research thesis proposes the redesign of Tide Lock Park in Alexandria, Virginia as an exploration of light. By researching the cultural history of artificial lighting as well as the sculptural use of light as art, this thesis seeks to distinguish lighting design that goes beyond functional and safety concerns to include design that honors the human relationship to darkness, as well as the artistic and emotive qualities of lighting. To accomplish these goals, this thesis proposes a landscape design for Tide Lock Park which meets the City of Alexandria's objectives as described in the Waterfront Small Area Plan. The design includes three distinctive areas of light, providing visitors the opportunity to engage the night in multiple ways.

Sarah Watling


Swaziland's Ngwenya Mines, the oldest known mine in the world, has been a source of ochre for cultural use for over 43,000 years. Until the 20th Century, extraction at Ngwenya Mine left an imperceptible mark on the landscape until industrial technology enabled new mining practices that have dramatically and irrevocably altered this landscape. The intent of this thesis is to further the development of mine reclamation models and ultimately benefit similar sites around the world. By building on current mine reclamation strategies where Land Art is a mediator between ecology and industry, this thesis focuses on the important story Ngwenya Mine can tell. With no intervention, the conclusion will be an untreated landscape with limited potential. With creative design responses, a story of cultural and ecological integrity can persist into the future.


Michael Boeck

Reimagining the Cambridge Shoreline: Encouraging Implementation of Sustainable Shoreline Erosion Controls in Cambridge, MD

Erosion in the Chesapeake Bay area occurs naturally and unnaturally. It is a concern for property owners, environmentalists, and communities. New legislation in Maryland specifies "living shoreline" as the preferred type of erosion control. Long-term success of the legislation depends on public support. Choosing to restore degraded or structural shorelines is an expensive undertaking and arguments that rely on environmental benefits alone are insufficient. The key is to develop, design, and promote erosion control devices that meet property owner and community goals. This research-design thesis asks the following question: As `living shorelines' become the preferred method of shoreline erosion control in the Chesapeake Bay, how can these shorelines be designed to meet the goals of property owners and residents, while being environmentally sensitive? The author argues that shoreline designers must integrate human dimensions research as well as scientific research into their designs in order to encourage widespread implementation.

Zoe Clarkwest


This interdisciplinary research-design thesis explores the role of resident engagement in developing a design criteria for urban stormwater runoff design solutions, urban greening, and activating public spaces in the urbanized McElderry Park neighborhood of Baltimore. Drawing upon stakeholder and resident interviews, community workshops, resident working groups, and site observations and analysis the designer developed design criteria for site interventions as well as neighborhood-wide programming elements. Residents identify jobs, safety and health as primary concerns. Beyond harvesting stormwater, site interventions must provide safety, education, entrepreneurial opportunities, exercise, etc. Building on community input, the design interventions proposed by the designer are site specific, but the intervention types are readily adaptable. The overall design process and programming strategies apply to a variety of urban sites. Given the amount of stormwater managed by the interventions, the potential jobs created by the interventions, and other benefits provided to residents, the model merits field testing at the neighborhood scale.

Allison Jensen


The artful management of stormwater has a capability to create educational arenas by combining environmentally sensitive rainwater design with education. School settings provide great opportunities for integrating on-site stormwater treatment into many aspects of the curriculum from the sciences to the arts. Presently, urban settings have new initiatives for creating green schools, which covers all levels of sustainability for the campus. This research project focuses on the development of stormwater and water-related designs for Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Georgetown, Washington DC. The main research is an assessment of the school's existing stormwater usage and runoff and also evaluating possibilities for new stormwater management techniques to be a supplement to curriculum.

Joyce Kelley

Redefining the ORILLA: community awareness at the water's edge in Baltimore

This thesis proposes a redesign of a waterfront park in South Baltimore, Maryland. Middle Branch Park, located one mile south of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, offers a unique opportunity to restore a degraded shoreline in the context of watershed stewardship. This thesis strives to reestablish Middle Branch as a functional critical buffer within the urban fabric of Baltimore city by utilizing shoreline restoration techniques, stormwater management and floating wetlands. The issues of water quality within the Middle Branch and the surrounding area are reflected in the design decisions. The design focuses on visualizing the hydrology of water in the landscape and creates opportunities for people to be within the water-landscape. Moreover, within this design the dynamic overlap of water and land is used as design tool to interconnect education, health and community within the new park design.

Kory Kreiseder

Addressing New Stormwater Policies in the Redesign of the National Grove of State Trees at the United States National Arboretum

The National Grove of State Trees at the United States National Arboretum is in need of redesign to meet ecological and social needs. The Grove serves as a scientific and cultural landscape and can be repurposed to serve the public as an ecological demonstration for contemporary environmental issues. In an intensive effort to clean up the local rivers of the District of Columbia and the Chesapeake Bay, the two agencies of the District Department of the Environment and DC Water have enacted stormwater runoff fees, based on impervious surface fees, on all property owners located in the District of Columbia. The redesign of the Grove is compounded by the Arboretum's need to add more parking to the area where the Grove is currently located. The objective of this thesis is to reimagine the design and interpretation of the Grove as well as address the impervious area charge assessments.

Rosamaria Mora Montenegro


"Puertas", translated as portals or gateways, give residents and visitors the first visual images of the city. Their importance depends in the way they connect two areas, as well as in the way they give identity to the city as a whole. With the expansion of the city, the Historic District of Panama (Casco Antiguo) lost part of its defensive wall and its two original city entrances: Puerta de Tierra (Land Gateway) and Puerta de Mar (Water Gateway).When these elements were destroyed, the city lost part of its physical boundaries and part of its identity as a fortified colonial settlement. This thesis is a historical and design investigation into the role of city entrances and how their interpretation in Casco Antiguo can improve the visitor's experience. The reinterpretation of these entrances will also mark the boundaries of the Historic District that function as meaningful links between Casco Antiguo and its surrounding areas.

Kimberly Moyer

Wildness as Infrastructure

An interesting line of tension happens when wildness is physically juxtaposed with order. This tension is an emblematic feature of the urban wildscape. This research/design thesis explores ways to inject qualities of wildness into the urban environment where order, functionality, and safety are a necessary part of the landscape. The exploration is primarily focused on aesthetics; the full engagement of the senses in the perception of the environment. Nevertheless, the sustainability of urban wildscapes has important implications for its survivability. With appropriate research and design, a degraded urban landscape can be transformed into a minimal maintenance wildscape. The goal of this project is to identify design parameters and apply them to a specific place: Baltimore's "Highway to Nowhere" with designed acts of intervention and a restrained approach to maintenance. The intent of these interventions is to encourage a predictable succession of urban wildlife habitats with varying levels of human presence.

Chris Myers


This paper will discuss design elements to enhance pollinator and avian diversity on a green roof in the District of Columbia. Biodiversity trends on green roofs in Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the United States are discussed. Focusing on North America, reconciliation ecology is explored through the use of case studies. The design process for designing a green roof is divided into three parts: identifying program goals, site analysis, and design concept. Design guidelines are extrapolated from conservation literature for the creation of green roofs that support pollinator and avian habitat. These "bioroofs" will be draped over the United States Coast Guard Headquarters building which will serve as a template for creating a green roof to target the least tern, the killdeer, the butterfly and the bee, in the District of Columbia.

Matthew Sickle

Nomadic Memorial: Dynamic Landscapes of Commemoration for the Civilian Public Service

This design-research thesis suggests the creation of a memorial commemorating the Civilian Public Service (CPS), a World War II era program of alternative service for conscientious objectors. Through an exploration of memorial culture, the thesis seeks to distinguish the commemoration of nonviolence from the commemoration of war and to propose a memorial that inspires its visitors to consider nonviolence and conscientious objection as positive aspects of American culture. To accomplish these goals, a memorial composed of modular commemorative elements was designed. Rearranging this kit of parts in combination with a new group of locally appropriate trees, the memorial will relocate to a different American city each year and return to Washington, D.C. every four years. With the growth of a new grove of trees and its donation to the neighborhood the memorial inhabits, the latter will draw attention to the history and the variety of services performed by the CPS.



Kameron Aroom

Riverpark: Adaptive Reuse of South Capitol Street Bridge

This thesis proposes the adaptive reuse of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, located in Washington, D.C. into an urban park dedicated to the pedestrian experience. Also named the South Capitol Street Bridge, the bridge currently serves as the vital connection between the north and south quadrants of the District of Columbia. With plans to replace the existing bridge, and by utilizing the existing infrastructure, Riverpark will serve as the green link enhancing the pedestrian and cycling experiences between the Capitol Riverfront and Poplar Point across the Anacostia River in southeast Washington.

Wei Xing


This thesis is a design study of a residential community in Langley Park, Maryland with a diverse international population, a mix of mid-twentieth century housing stock, and a car-oriented commercial center. Langley Park will experience dramatic changes over the next ten years as the proposed transit center and light rail line is realized. The study proposes a new way for landscape architects to approach community design. It suggests that by consulting the scholarship of place attachment, designers can develop design strategies and apply them in design practice. Five strategies are proposed. Following a site analysis which identified assets and problems, the author established design objectives that would enhance the community's character and repair damage caused by a lack of connectivity. This thesis suggests designers can incorporate the concepts found in the literature of place attachment and thereby develop strategies to successfully achieve the design objectives.