A thesis is a thematic proposition offered for discussion and debate, typically developed through a piece of original research specific to a discipline at the end of an academic program. Theses are produced through various methods as appropriate to the disciplinary commitments of academic fields across the research university. Design research is propositional and projective rather than simply empirical or descriptive. It is characterized by its capacity to propose alternative and better futures while simultaneously producing disciplinary knowledge in design. Candidates in the Master in Landscape Architecture Program elect to pursue independent design theses at the culmination of their graduate work. The projects presented here represent original thematic propositions put forward through design research to stimulate discussion and debate. In this sense, they are as much about design discourse and disciplinary formation as they are propositions for how things ought to be.

Charles Waldheim
John E. Irving Professor of Landscape Architecture
Director of the Office for Urbanization


The theses produced by students in the GSD’s Department of Urban Planning and Design are a testament to the capacity for creative and engaged scholarship to advance our understanding of the built environment and meaningfully contribute to public knowledge. The commitment to critical inquiry, methodological rigor and passionate reasoning embedded in each project is a welcome counterpoint to the easy answers and unsubstantiated claims that increasingly dominate public discourse. In keeping with the enlightenment tradition, students’ projects acknowledge and build upon the strengths and weaknesses of prior research efforts. Looking forward, however, students’ arguments simultaneously situate them at the forefront of what is known and put them in conversation with the future trajectory of our professions and of society more broadly.

Michael Hooper
Associate Professor of Urban Planning