|INDEX||ABOUT ME||RESEARCH||ACADEMICS||COMMUNITY-DESIGN||ENGAGEMENT||NEWS & LINKS||STUDY ABROAD||INTERESTS|
Teaching and research are inseparable components of scholarship in higher education. Research contributes to my teaching by supplying up-to-date information and experiences to share with students. My scholarly work reflects emerging practices and processes that reside between and among different disciplines, professions, and sectors.
My teaching philosophy grows out of my own experience in practice within urban planning, urban design and landscape architecture disciplines. Being an effective teacher and scholar requires strategic integration of classroom and community. Regardless of what I teach, my aim is for students to gain a deep understanding of the design theories, policy and planning processes, while working with diverse groups representing different disciplines, public agencies, non-profit organizations, and community groups.
Identifying and quantifying critical urban green spaces in the Columbus metropolitan region (research funded by the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis)
The research (1) explores current knowledge on the benefits of green urban spaces and their impact on mental, physical and community health, (2) assesses the quantity and quality of green-open spaces and their accessibility as measures of the social capital of a community through a Columbus, Ohio, case study, and (3) establishes a framework for future research in this area.. This research has three main objectives: (1) establish a relationship between the lack of green open space and social and economic factors in selected neighborhoods in Columbus; (2) measure the physical accessibility of existing green open spaces to local residents, to determine if this is a contributing factor for lack of usage; (3) evaluate residents needs in order to establish appropriate place-based design, and to provide future recommendations and guidelines for retrofitting existing and implementing new green-open spaces. The research will use both quantitative and qualitative approaches in order to develop future recommendations.
Research questions: If green-open spaces in urban areas do have a positive impact on human health, can they act as a catalyst for generating social capital (networks, norms and social trust) and for preventative healthcare mechanisms with regard to some of our current chronic diseases? Can we design or retrofit green-open spaces in urban areas for positive social and health outcomes?
Building Responsive and Adaptive Physical Environments that Focus on People and Place: “The McDowell Corridor’s Reshaping of the Latino Commercial Landscape”
According to U.S. Census, in 1960 the Latin@ community totaled 6.9 million or 3.9 percent of the U.S. total population. In 1970, that number rose to 9.1 million (4.5 percent of the U.S. population); in 1980, 14.6 million (6.4 percent of the U.S. population); in 1990, 22.3 million (9 percent of the U.S. population); and in 2000 the number had grown to 35.3 million — roughly 12.5 percent of the population. In the most recent figures (2007), the U.S. Census reported that the Latin@ population reached 45 million, the largest minority group in the country.
The main objective of this project is to provide an in-depth case study of how Latina/os contribute to the urban revitalization process by (re)appropriating space for their own use, turning downtrodden areas into vibrant commercial centers that aid in the maintenance of the social networks that provide ties to Latin American home countries while at the same time acclimating new immigrants. The study focuses on the McDowell Corridor in central Phoenix. A detailed analysis of business activities and census data in the McDowell Corridor illustrates the changing spatial patterns and demonstrates how ethnic minority entrepreneurs are giving new meaning to abandoned and dilapidated landscapes such as strip malls and older, unmaintained neighborhoods. In addition to highlighting the economic benefits to the city of Phoenix, this project investigates the specific ways in which urban spaces are being transformed and modified to suit the needs and cultural preferences of their residents.
Commercial Nodes: Four distinctive commercial nodes were identified in the study area with three themes based on the prevalent type of business. Clothing for Special Occasions: Node #1, Auto related business: Node #1 & 3 and Market/Food: Node #1, 2, 3, & 4.
Sustainable Phoenix: Lessons from Abroad
In only fifty years, the Phoenix metropolitan area has expanded from a small desert town into one of the largest urban areas in the United States . Today, it has one fastest rates of growth in the nation with an annual population growth rate of 4.5%. This area has grown during a period of urban development that largely ignored local topography, climate, culture and history. As a result we have a sprawling metropolitan area with an ever increasing ecological footprint and with a standardized urban design and infrastructure that works against its environmental setting rather than with it. This 4.5% rate of growth has led to the demise of the central city and propelled urban areas into former croplands and virgin desert lands.
Currently, the city of Phoenix is going through a process of urban renaissance with an increasing demand for urban living and commerce. These demands for a new central city include many of the integral components of sustainable urban design such as: pedestrians, arts and entertainment, efficient public transportation systems, the addition of institutional assets (government, universities, and the medical industry); and a renewed interest in the “sense of place” in daily living. It is said that Phoenix has most of the major building blocks to become the heart of a new regional economy. Learning from the Netherlands , this dissertation explores the concept of the sustainable urban design and its applications in the context of Phoenix through the investigation and the transfer of knowledge from the Dutch model.
The Dutch have successfully dealt with sustainable urban design approaches and their practices represent an unusual learning opportunity for Phoenix . The Netherlands ' experience suggests three strategies/themes for rendering Phoenix more sustainable urban form. These include the strategic planning and development of “urban extensions”, “compact infill”, and “modernizing infrastructure”. The exploration of these practices for Phoenix will identify and measure the value added to the quality of life through the implementation of sustainable urban design concepts, and will also address the benefits that flow from well designed urban spaces.
The main concern behind my research is that:
Community Participation and the Web: Visualizing a Sustainable Community in Moapa Valley
This research provides an in-depth case study of how the use of internet technologies can enhance community participation and visualization in the planning process. The internet is proving to be a useful tool for involving community members in rural areas where participation is limited. Pressures of rapid growth and development have forced rural communities to rethink ways to reach and empower local residents, introduce sustainability, and plan their community’s future. Like many small, rural communities, Moapa Valley, Nevada is experiencing rapid growth with spreading urban subdivisions, congestion of its main street, loss of scenic vistas, deterioration of its water supply and general loss of its “Rural Quality of Life. In this case, the use of new technologies such as the internet was a vital component in the urban design process and community participation. The use of the internet as tool in community participation and decision-making centered around design provides benefits including: the ability to have many more participants by reaching a wider audience, the use of participation as a source of ideas and preferences, the ability to generate an integrated vision for the future, and democratically-derived consensus of redesigning elements of the community. An online visual preference survey was implemented to get the community’s input. The goal was empowering residents of a rural community to become active participants in the design and planning process of their own community.
Phoenix Arizona has grown during a period of urban development that completely ignored local topography, climate, culture and history. As a result we have a sprawling metropolitan area with an ever increasing heat-island effect, and with an urban infrastructure that works against its environmental setting rather than with it. This practice has led to the abandonment of the central city and propelled urban areas into former croplands and virgin desert lands. This paper provides an understanding of how people living in cities can actually modify the environment. It also explores some alternative ways to mitigate the urban-heat-island effect through implementation of more sustainable urban interventions that respond to the local setting.
In only fifty years, Phoenix metropolitan area has expanded from a small desert town into the fifth largest city in the United States. Ninety percent of the Phoenix area was built over the last half of the century, a period when urban development focused primarily on building highways and suburban tract housing and huge shopping malls (3). All these low-density building practices were powered by attempts to master-plan cities through the separation of uses and functions, hence ignoring the local topography, climate, history and culture.
Other challenges that can be attributed to the continuing practice of urban sprawl that affect the daily urban life include: increased traffic, pollution and population growth. In order to prevent the phenomenon of sprawl from eating away croplands and virgin desert land, we need to revitalize the central city and to provide ways to retrofit the city and its urban infrastructure so that we can accommodate people as well as cars.
The process of urban retrofitting requires an increase in the number of “mixed-use” urban pockets, provide more alternatives to the car, and provide cooling devises that offer comfort throughout the year in a hostile desert urban environment. This paper will discuss some of the urban intervention that can mitigate the urban-heat-island effect through the implementation of more sustainable urban design interventions such as: inclusionary zoning, cool-parking and tree planting program.
The process of urban regeneration within the dense urban fabric of Los Angeles is a complicated process that requires special attention. Along with this crisis there are the issues of aesthetics, as well as social and environmental concerns that require attention in the process of urban regeneration. The reintroduction of nature to the urban fabric especially in dense neighborhoods such as the Vermont and Western corridor is a major task essential to any possibility of sustainable regeneration. This study will allow me to investigate different ways in which nature can be introduced in the for of street parks, community parks, tree planting, and pocket parks among others. This site provides a significant opportunity to address the fundamental environmental issues of urban regeneration.
More Coming Soon!
Professional and Academic Collaborations:
This research (1) explores current knowledge on the benefits of green urban spaces and their impact on mental, physical and community health, (2) assesses the quantity and quality of green-open spaces and their accessibility as measures of the social capital of a community through a Columbus, Ohio, case study, and (3) establishes a framework for future research in this area.
This project is to provide an in-depth case study of how Latina/os contribute to the urban revitalization process by (re)appropriating space for their own use, turning downtrodden areas into vibrant commercial centers that aid in the maintenance of the social networks that provide ties to Latin American home countries while at the same time acclimating new immigrants.