Date of Graduation
Bachelor of Architecture
Committee Member/Second Reader
Currently, the world is experiencing a resurgence of the urban lifestyle as humanity undergoes its third great wave of human history, the metropolitan tide. Humanity’s advancement in the past few decades has made cities the largest technology possible. In 1952, only thirty percent of the population lived in cities, and by the end of the twenty-first century, eighty-five percent of the world’s population will be urban. With this influx of population in the urban landscape, it is pertinent now more than ever for cities to redesign the city for the pedestrian.
In the 1950s, there was a predominant reorganization of the landscape and shift in the urban lifestyle in the United States as the “American Dream” ignited a move out of the city into the suburbs, This outward expansion to places to be later deemed “suburbia” transformed the landscape into separated business districts and living districts. The space in between, and even the space within the city was transformed and was designed for the consumer and the car—not the pedestrian. So, now, the contemporary urban landscape is comprised of large blocks of commercial or industrial buildings followed by intermittently organized underutilized and underperforming open space. These open spaces are usually space left-over after planning, and are created by happenstance, not intention. When this reorganization of the landscape occurred, a new model of the urban form was created, the sprawl city model. The sprawl city usually witnesses this type of car-centered organization downtown, which leads to a disconnection within the core and its people.
Located in the heart of the United States lies a city so much in sprawl that it straddles two states. Connecting Kansas and Missouri, Kansas City has the potential to be a paradigm for sprawl city revitalization. Currently, Kansas City, Missouri is undergoing transformations towards a 21st century city, but the main issue inhibiting the success of these transformations is the disconnection within the city. Not only is it an expansive sprawl city, but the downtown core organization caters to the needs of the car. Miles of highway act as barriers towards connection of the city’s districts, and at the pedestrian scale, the landscape is plagued by wide streets and boulevards and underutilized open space and surface parking lots. Kansas City, Missouri is city desperately wanting to connect and revitalize the downtown core, which is rich in history and culture, but with these connection barriers, the city is having difficulty.
This capstone reimagines the future of surface parking lots in the Crossroads District of Kansas City, Missouri as public space and investigates the hypothesis that engaging public spaces into the city’s almost non-existent public realm will ignite a network of public space and create a better-connected city. Through the analysis of Kansas City, Missouri, surface parking lot typologies in the Crossroads District, and the study of successful public space as determined by theories and cases studies in placemaking, this capstone aims to determine a public space toolkit needed to transform Kansas City’s surface parking lots into public spaces that provide better connectivity between its districts, neighborhoods, and people. The capstone investigates three potential sites in the Crossroads District and assesses how each site’s existing conditions and potential usage and design with the toolkit implementation can achieve a comfortable, social space that can serve as a catalyst for further public space linkage throughout the Crossroads District, and then throughout the Greater Downtown Metro Area. The goal of this capstone is to examine the viability of the toolkit as a public space placemaking method, in relation to Kansas City, and ultimately answer its initial research question: How can public space serve as an ultimate layer of connectivity in a currently disconnected city?
Architecture, Urban Design, Public Space, Tactical Urbanism, Connectivity
Davis, L. (2020). The Social Lot: Reimagining the Future of Surface Parking Lots in Kansas City, Missouri. Architecture Undergraduate Honors Theses Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/archuht/44