Infrastructure for Humans: Repairing Urban Fabrics With A Flexible Dual-Purpose Architecture

The United States interstate highway system is an incredible feat of urban planning, engineering, and common direction of movement within the federal government. By the 1960s this highway system spanned the entire continental US, planned out in its entirety beforehand, and implemented in an unprecedented showcase of resources and labor. This same highway system was also fraught with the veiled segregation practices that were being judicially phased out of favor at the same time. These highways were utilized as a means of physical segregation, ripping through urban neighborhoods, opening up travel to suburbs, and creating impassable physical barriers within urban centers. An act of redlining under the guise of federally sponsored infrastructure. Today, the spaces adjacent to these highways are still reeling from the effects of their installation in the late 1950s and 60s. Urban fabrics lie torn still to this day, and noise polluted neighborhoods slowly move further and further away, leaving only disinvestment and blight behind.
Due to the massive spatial investment required by these highways, there exists countless miles of byproduct land in the form of easements and berms flanking nearly every single mile of American Highways. In urban applications, these throwaway lots can be reclaimed from the highways and used to repair the fabrics once disrupted. By utilizing the leftover space created from the installation of urban highways, a flexible architecture-as-infrastructure can be installed to begin to repair social, urban, and economic fabrics of highway-adjacent neighborhoods, business districts, and all other spaces negatively affected by the highways. Current legislation provides the catalyst to begin truly examining the effects of the urban highway and how it can be harmful to human and urban health. A humanist architecture built to manage the highway conditions should also be able to more meaningfully benefit its opposite constituencies, providing a universal catalyst for beneficial change that is mountable wherever highways run.

Department>

Design

 

Program>

Architecture [M.Arch]

 

Contact

bcox1@ltu.edu
@brycearch_

Student(s)

Bryce Cox

Bryce is a current student of and recent graduate from Lawrence Tech, completing his B.S.Arch in the spring of 2021 and his M.Arch in the summer of 2022. During his time at LTU he has held leadership positions in the local AIAS chapter as well as the LTU Marching Band. He has also garnered interests in both interactive and generative art and design, implementing both back into his architectural work where possible. Bryce is currently working full-time at a small architecture firm, specializing in cargo architecture, in downtown Detroit whilst finishing his education.