Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Larissa Belcic

Second Advisor

Nick De Pace

Third Advisor

Gavin Zeitz


This thesis project responds to issues surrounding beach erosion on Long Island’s Atlantic Coast by envisioning policy and design decisions that activate a destabilization of the shoreline and a managed retreat away from beaches. Contrasted to methods and goals of conventional coastal engineering, a beach autonomous zone sets an extended, moving setback in which coastlines are treated, in effect, as conservation easements, allowing for and encouraging beaches to return to more natural states. On four sites of different scales representing different built beachfront conditions, I visualize the negotiations between human desires and the needs of a beach that arise under this spatial designation.

My research methodology for this project consists of various strategies performed on and off site including primary strategies like sketching, secondary research such as map making, and research through a process of iterative site plan drawing. The outcome of this is the beginning of a coastal planning approach that balances the beach autonomy with human access and cultural preservation. Though a beach autonomous zone poses staggering logistical challenges, this project serves as a representation of alternative strategies for more sustainable cohabitation with coasts and a starting point for a difficult conversation about choices we face on eroding shores.



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