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Seeking a New City

Imagine a new city. Formed as a willful act and lacking any real history by which it can explain itself. Its form must be invented. The city is a collection of intertwined functions, ideally inspired and inspiring. The city is a symbol of collective meaning.

This graduate studio project challenged small teams to design an entirely new four square mile city on a flat and featureless plain in Nevada. The new city would be the county seat, growing to a population of 30,000 individuals over 20 years time. The city would require civic, religious, retail, and performance structures as well as housing and limited automobile thoroughfares and parking. A proposed manufacturing facility, accessible via public light rail, would be located just miles from the site and would supply the new city with many professional and non-professional inhabitants. The task was to develop a complete city from the ground up which offers a new way of life to its residents and which celebrates and promotes these new ideologies through its organizational structure.

My team aimed to create a self-sustaining city which would grow in stages and would be organized by creating long, linear hills, oriented east-west. Residents' automobile dependency would be reduced by relegating the roadways to subterranean levels within the created hills. These hill masses would also create more variety of landscape which could be zoned for different uses. Each hill would be a subset of the larger city and would have a central node containing important civic structures. The various nodes on the individual hills would all be connected by the public light rail system, thereby creating an easily accessible city 'center' which could grow and adapt as more hills were generated and the population increased. The cross-sectional properties of the (a) flat and densely populated communal/residential space, (b) the planted hillside terraces, and (c) the flat agricultural/recreational land play an important role in returning residents back to the landscape in a more productive and communal way. The intention is to recreate an environment where residents would have the opportunity to contribute to the community in a variety of ways, all just minutes from their front door. As with any completely new city, this somewhat utopian vision would allow an entire community of individuals to populate a barren Nevada plain and create a memorable, sustainable, and lasting community.