Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



This thesis examines the relationship between architecture and planning in Detroit. The relationship between these two disciplines has reinforced gross inequality in socioeconomic status over many decades. It has been compounded by racism which planning policy and Architecture exploited during the 20th Century for private interests. This impacts the built environment at all scales. Today division is reinforced through small details such as how handrails are placed on benches, but it extends to planning metropolitan areas, and how they are divided up into city and suburb. At the scales between, both architecture and planning reinforce the segregation within their own disciplines, but the stage is set at this intersection. The scale of 1”=100’ has a history of being a scale at which both architectural form, and planning, can be expressed simultaneously. This is famously seen in the scale model of San Francisco which was commissioned by the City during the Great Depression.

Architecturally, the prevalence of skywalks between major buildings in urban areas has greatly increased. These networks grow organically, responding to a market demand for division, a city within a city. In Detroit, neighborhoods have edges, and within a few blocks, there is emptiness and abandonment. It is one of these edges that is explored in the intervention. The edges are oftentimes reinforced by the built environment with walls, traffic regulations, and pedestrian access carefully controlled at the scale of the neighborhood. Therefore, the thesis proposes a new form of development and is interested in this scale where architecture and planning are supposed to meet. Through this interdisciplinary approach, more problems are addressed simultaneously. The intervention identifies an educational district just outside of downtown Detroit and greatly expands it over several decades. 3 focus buildings were developed in more detail to sketch possible formal outcomes of the exercise in the built environment. The intervention proposes greater community input which informs this reimagining of neighborhood. The idea also draws on the concept of a “15-minute neighborhood,” which has been proposed by the mayor of Detroit as a solution to urban blight in Detroit.


First Advisor

Ela Dominique-Walker