Date of Award

Spring 6-2-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Colgate Searle

Second Advisor

Nick De Pace


This thesis attempts to answer the broad question: “How can designers have a role in creating or enhancing productive systems in cities?”

The focus is on rethinking the function of public and quasi-public space with the aim of building inclusiveness, ecological diversity, and productivity. The project explores the meaning of productivity and works to push the defi nition of urban productivity to include but also extend beyond community gardens. For example, a productive city might include a network of agroforestry sites, sites being remediated so that they can grow food in the future, a nursery on a capped brownfi eld site, a site for local pollinators, and more. The project stems from research on agroforestry and the potential for using agroforestry system tools to achieve stated goals of creating a productive, livable, equitable city.

The site for study is Providence, Rhode Island. Rather than study one site, this thesis looks at a series of sites along the Woonasquatucket River that vary in scale, purpose, and current conditions. There are three main reasons that these sites are appropriate for studying this topic:

1. The Woonasquatucket River’s current condition is representative of Providence’s industrial history and the challenges that face any project that aims to grow food in an urban condition.

2. The sites span a range of conditions, from farther west and more forested to an urban core with few trees.

3. There are existing connections to community organizations that will help this project function. For example, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council does research and advocacy work on the river and its surrounding land.

The big question: “how can designers have a role in creating or enhancing productive systems in cities?”



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