Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture (MArch)

Department

Architecture

First Advisor

Amy Kulper

Second Advisor

Anne Tate

Third Advisor

Jonathan Knowles

Abstract

6:00am, a mid-August morning in 2030: the sun is up, a dew floats above a crop-scape that kisses the horizon line, seemingly continuing past infinity. Cattle sprinkle a pasture munching lethargically on grass, flicking their tails at the occasional fly buzzing about. The land stretches for miles interrupted only by 30’ vertical turbines whooshing softly. Nearby, 4th Street stretching four and a half miles East to West in the heart of Canyon, TX hums to life. Street lights fade out and begin to oscillate in rhythm as the daily wind picks up speed. Solar Canopies unfurl, prepared for the small chance a late afternoon thunderstorm will drift across the plains, if not harvesting photons from the sun’s rays will suffice for the day. Soil Fences swing readily to knock airborne silt out of the air, collecting it at its base and diverting wind from bombarding open spaces. Little has changed since a second Dust Bowl threatened the area in 2019 demanding a response to the energy generation and water use habits of a generation. Values instilled from Cattle Drives in the 1800s remain intact, and Canyon steadily carries onward with a quiet resilience from the oldest ranchers and farmers who nurtured and promoted the infrastructural shift at the time when the city almost met extinction.

Today, increasingly powerful hurricanes blast coastlines leaving feelings of helplessness and misunderstanding in their wake. Feelings like these cause communities like Canyon to ignore the warnings of disasters making their way inland. This is negligence.

Wide open plains surround the city of Canyon. Devastated by the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and then revitalized through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Shelter-belt initiatives, the Panhandle Plains is a key player in the agricultural economy of Texas. As FDR’s initiatives began to give way to technological innovations in irrigation during the 60s, farmland and prairies moved retroactively toward another Dust Bowl. Unknowingly, farmlands became crippled by new irrigation technologies dependent upon a fast draining Ogallala Aquifer for water. Coal fired steam generators provide electricity to pump thousands of gallons of water from the Ogallala to thirsty crops. Coal remains the majority power supply to transmission grids in the Panhandle Plains. For a town like Canyon, landlocked, dry, flat, and extremely windy, solutions to the changing climate are needed at a scale that resonates with a community rather than a nation.

This case study redesigns 4th Street, the main avenue of the city that connects fields and farmland to the town. Devices populate the length, addressing key components of Canyon’s environment: wind, water and soil. With 4th Street revived, community members can begin to understand the fragility of their home by interacting and witnessing the energy capabilities of the devices, a step away from another Dust Bowl looming on the horizon.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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