Date of Award

Summer 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Suzanne Mathew

Second Advisor

Nick De Pace


This thesis aims to address the spatial fragmentation of Mission Hill. As an old, crowded and chaotic neighborhood in Boston, Mission Hill is a microcosm of Boston's history. Four hundred years ago, Mission Hill was an ecological ecotone which consisted of a series of transitional landscapes, located on the border of a peninsula surrounded by salt marshes. Today, the history of ecotone has been hidden. Landfill, segregation, gentrification, and climate change have caused fragmented spaces, weak connections, and poor accessibility. Meanwhile, the fragmentation of public open areas has also disrupted people's interaction with one another, and the spatial spirit of the community is lost as a result.

This thesis explores the new possibility of Mission Hill community development based on ecotone research and develops a full-scale spatial framework. Incorporating evidence from historical documents and field observations, Mission Hill's existing public open space exists as a reminder of its history as an ecotone. Research on ecotones demonstrates that different species and substances can co-exist and will be transferred efficiently because of the excellent connectivity inside the ecotone. Mission Hill's past as an ecotone creates the possibility of its future as the renewed ecotone. Through reconnecting fragmented open spaces, we can reactivate the history of Mission Hill and rewild Mission Hill to be a new ecotone. Inclusion, integrality and efficiency of ecotones can also be applied to the open areas of Mission Hill to enhance this new spatial system. By returning to the ecotone, Mission Hill can reorganize fragmented spaces, enhance connectivity and accessibility between spaces, activate hidden histories, evoke distant shared memories, and ultimately alleviate the emotional and physical trauma experienced by entire communities since segregation, gentrification, and climate change.


View thesis online: Xinyi Cai, Starting From Ecotone



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.