Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2014


John Van Buren


The physical landscape of the United States has developed to a point that it has become detrimental to the health of its citizens and the natural environment. Designed around abundant fossil fuels, the sprawling panorama Americans call home has significantly contributed to a decline in global ecosystem services. Using historical precedence as a guide for the constant improvement of surrounding environs has led to the nation’s exorbitant resource use and beyond sustainable emissions rates required by the physical design of the man-made landscape. These mandates, embodied in a physical design, further reinforce isolation and contribute to the psychological denial about the effects a citizen’s daily actions have unto the global arena of climate change. Continuing a tradition of collective blindness due to the geographic and economic positioning of the country is no longer a desirable option. This paper explores the multifaceted ways in which the design of communities and infrastructure in the United States has evolved historically and how contemporary environmental issues, most notably climate change, necessitate a move towards a design theory that respects the role ecology has on the further maintenance of a prosperous humanity.