Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Suzanne Mathew

Second Advisor

Ann Kearsley

Third Advisor

Lindsay French


A River is a mighty and constantly-evolving force, leaving behind an intricately designed and constantly changing system. Not just a river, the Rio Grande stretches all the way from Colorado before intersecting with the US-Mexico Border in southern Texas - a point where the powerful forces of nature now merge with a clearly-defined political boundary. The outcome of this is a unique ecological niche, which may often go unnoticed despite its distinctiveness.

Texas is famous for its farms and ranches, and the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas was once an agricultural hub. However, urbanization and the depletion of water resources due to climate change and over-extraction of groundwater have drastically impacted the region’s ability to sustain itself agriculturally. Suitable profits were not forthcoming. The landowners would forcibly abandon their lands and hardly spend money to revegetate those lands if no added value or profit was ensured. Shrinking along with the farmlands are the 5% left pristine native riparian thorn scrub woodlands. They serve as a crucial migration corridor for local wildlife. The thesis is to give voice to the right of nature and the non-human life in this region and see whether centralizing and recovering the fragile environmental systems humans messed up might suggest a new way of living with the border landscape instead of constantly politicizing it. Overtime, by recalling and working with nature’s innate intelligence, we can raise the awareness of a responsible human-nature relationship on both sides of this liquid ‘border’


View exhibition online: Yingfan Jia, Liquid Border



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