The past year has played host to no fewer than four major crises, with pandemic, the brutality and systemic racism resulting in increasing calls for social justice, pronounced climate change impacts, and economic turmoil with historically high unemployment rates. While the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated many aspects of students’ programs, we have been truly impressed by the willingness of all the thesis students to push forward their work under these most challenging of circumstances. Few graduate students have encountered such obstacles to research, and we want to say how impressed we have been by the work of every member of the thesis cohort.

The students whose work is documented in this site, in addition to deploying strong skills in analysis, design, and representation, brought to bear an immense enthusiasm for, and commitment to, their subjects. This is evident in the results of their research efforts. It is this passion that will give these projects life long after graduation and ensure their impact extends beyond the boundaries of the school and the university.

David Gamble
Thesis Co-director Department of Urban Planning and Design

Carole Voulgaris
Thesis Co-director Department of Urban Planning and Design

Christopher D’Amico


Unpaving Paradise: Envisioning a Healthy Hialeah

Advised by Paola Sturla

Hialeah is a city of “unhealthy” urban character in terms of green coverage, economic opportunity, and medical care; however, its strong sense of community and interpersonal “weak ties” could help overcome these characteristics with reinvigorated participation for a reformulation of the city. Imageability as a method of participation invites the minds of community members acting as designers to formulate a strategy for the health of their own city, ascertaining, “What does a healthy Hialeah look like?” This relationship between individuals in the act of imageability is not merely a connection, or even many connections, rather it is defined by an exponential, almost intangible network of relations and actions known to us as complexity. The fruits of this discussion on imageability and health are integrated and designed into a framework for Hialeah that challenges its health infrastructure by redesigning a connective network centered on a synthetic urban orchard.

Illustration of a commercial block and public space viewed from the street with people engaged in activities such as sitting waiting, exercising, eating, talking, passing through, etc. A brick sidewalk with bus shelter, a strip of plantings with orange trees fronts a plaza tiled with turf block pavers. Two storefronts, Cafecito and Julio’s Food Market are in the background..

Colorful illustration of street intersecting an open-air market, with people walking and bicycling. Above is a layout of the transportation lanes in section, including lanes for walking, trees, bicycles, and cars.

Colorful illustration of a park surrounded by commercial shops in the rain, with people walking with umbrellas. Above this is a layout of the landscape in section, showing lanes for walking, bicycles, and cars, as well as sections of park with greenery.

Colorful illustration showing different heights of trees with foliage and temperature statistics, as well as the supply cycle of trees from nursery through harvesting/recycling.

Illustrated diagram of a section of city blocks, showing different types of facilites in their locations and transportation patterns.

Colorful birds-eye illustration of a low-rise cityscape with a large central road bisecting many buildings and a large amount of greenery.

Craig Borkenhagen


Making Mobility: Shifting the Urban Milieu of Oklahoma City

Advised by Peter Rowe

Bus rapid transit is a key component of many of the world’s largest municipalities and is at the limit of what smaller cities like Oklahoma City can realistically achieve. OKC’s development as a thriving urban center is full of unique and complex challenges that separate it from any other city in the country and make the addition of a bus rapid transit system especially difficult. This project takes that method of public transportation, well known internationally but facing little domestic interest due to our continued devotion to the automobile, and uses it to reshape the future urban development of Oklahoma’s capital. BRT at a system level is explored and reimagined, then used to redefine specific points of future importance for the city—sites that suggest a polycentric network of vibrant spaces.

Overhead map of a city street network with a grid of roadways highlighted in red and terminal and and a few intermediate destinations circled. Routes are marked regularly with black points.