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PRINCIPLES OF A SUSTAINABLE AND SUCCESSFUL MIXED-USE STREETSCAPE-BASED URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT: EMPHASIS ON REDEVELOPMENT OF SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON, D.C. Open Access

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Urban renewal promised rejuvenation of cities--cites that were increasingly losing inhabitants to the perceived security and safety of the suburbs. In its purest form, it was designed to sustain and support a metropolis, helping reduce the exodus of inhabitants in the population battle with the suburbs. In reality, it has been used as a tool for gentrification, a source of blind federal funding, and slum clearance. The urban renewal plans of the 20th century promised a rejuvenated city, but in essence destroyed communities and missed the populations' needs and desires; the plans had the opposite effect and past urban renewal projects are being redesigned and rebuilt today. The failure of the 20th century renewal projects are explored and applied by studying Southwest Washington, D.C. Urban renewal projects of the 20th century promised the replacement of a section of a city--a locale, district, or neighborhood that was no longer deemed adequate--such as tenement housing, alley dwellings, or obsolete public buildings. The alternative designs or reuses of the city section were thought to be renewed, recharged, and modernized post redevelopment. City planners attempted, through the displacement of individuals, businesses, and communities, to reenergize cities and compete with suburban life. However, many of these new designs were not sensitive to regional issues and focused heavily on centralized planning without thought for long-term consequences or sustainability. In most instances the natural rhythms of the streetscapes were displaced and destroyed. The Southwest Waterfront redevelopment destroyed 5,700 structures in the 1950s and must be revamped for today's needs. Through documented industry standard texts, interviews with urban planners, planning commissioners, population data sources, and site travel, the new, old, and alternative plans of development are investigated for their longevity, success, and use of existing and rejuvenated neighborhoods. A major focus on the importance of streetscapes and mixed-use properties is discussed. The results attempt to show that a well-planned and executed urban renewal project, integrating multi-use facilities and a corresponding streetscape, can be successful and sustainable. The factors of past and future developments in Southwest Washington, D.C. are studied, critiqued, and compared to one another as well as to other planning philosophies. It is theoretically shown that a well-planned urban design, one that understands and anticipates the needs of current and future diverse populations, could be successful. Site analyses and literature research result in a conclusion of what defines a sustainable and successful urban renewal project in Southwest Washington, D.C.

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