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Building an Architecture of Non-Displacement: Preserving Community through a Revitalized Construction Process

Architects, as professionals, are tasked with adding value through their designs by renovating buildings and revitalizing cities. These tasks are in services to their clients, who are powerful patrons who wish to leverage the architecture produced to strengthen prestige, valuing development above other stakeholders like the community (Crawford, 1991). As a result, architects often become unwitting agents in gentrification, a process of culturally and economically transforming a historically disinvested neighborhood. Although the role of the architect in gentrification is incontrovertible, the architect does have the ability to minimize some of the harmful effects of gentrification, one of which is displacement, where communities are physically or culturally erased from a neighborhood.

There are many tactics that have the potential to minimize displacement that can be used by architects, including project delivery, cost management, and participatory design, but the most effective tactics are often reinforced through governmental agencies. One example is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, where the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development promotes neighborhood-scale revitalization without the direct displacement of low-income residents - a goal that is achieved through temporary relocation during construction. Unfortunately, these tactics have proven ineffective with only 30% of residents returning after relocation (University of Illinois Chicago, 2021). However, new technology is emerging that may allow for a more radical approach, specifically an in-place construction process that eliminates the need to relocate households, thereby preventing displacement. This thesis will re-evaluate design practices by eliminating the process of temporary relocation within revitalization projects, which will preserve both existing culture and original housing during construction without disrupting the lives of residents.

In order to investigate this strategy, this thesis will focus on the redevelopment of Clement Kern Gardens, an existing affordable housing project located in Detroit, Michigan. Clement Kern Gardens is part of a larger-scale vision encompassed by the Greater Corktown Framework Plan, funded by the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant. The proposed design investigation will be compared to the current redevelopment plan of Clement Kern Gardens and the precedent study of Grove Parc Plaza in Chicago to evaluate whether or not a reformed construction process might help to eliminate displacement. If successful, this thesis will offer a way in which architects might add value relative to the disenfranchised within the construction process, in a similar fashion to how architects and clients add value to cities.








Allyza Valino

Allyza is currently in her Master of Architecture at Lawrence Tech, to be completed by the spring of 2024, and also completed her Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Lawrence Tech in 2022.
In her undergraduate, she was an active member of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), serving as the Freedom by Design Director and Vice President. Today she is in the process of completing her Architectural Registration Exams through the IPAL program. Allyza currently works at Fielding International, an architectural and educational firm specializing in K-12 school design, devoted to creating spaces where learners can thrive. Her interests in socially-responsive and public interest design are reflected in both her work and her thesis exploration. Her goal as a future architect is to design spaces for the less advantaged, providing individuals support through spatial surroundings and urban design.

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