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

Adam Mekies


Aggregate, Aggregation + Geotechnical Urbanism

Advised by Stephen Ervin

Within the architectural engineering and construction industry, we have developed diagrammatic representations and software translations of cultural patterns, extruded 2D cities, and built architecture of processed materials palettes. We are not yet able to diagrammatically compute the translation (intent to manifestation) of wild contexts and materials systems. This thesis seeks a hybrid software approach to the bulk manipulations of aggregate, somewhere between that of a wild randomization and a highly refined aesthetic. By developing new software tools toward the aggregation of “wild” (i.e., rock, soils, and organic matter) rather than “cultured” (cast-in-place concrete, steel beams, and prefabricated urbanism), we may not only achieve new opportunities in the ecological landscape definition of the terms, but also provide tooling for new forms of urban aggregate across more dynamic and less predictable cultural conditions, so called geotechnical urbanism(s). This experimentation is applied conceptually to sea level rise and coastal urbanism surrounding the Boston Harbor.

Photo of a figure at a laptop computer and tablet computer working with a digital mapping program.