Neighborhood revitalization through catalyst projects : capacity building and urban design in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project and the Bronx River Project
Author(s)Sideroff, Desireé A. (Desireé Alice), 1977-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Anne Whinston Spirn.
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Achieving meaningful neighborhood revitalization remains a perennial challenge for urban planners, as problems facing inner-city neighborhoods are complex and interconnected. Most recently, both the practice and literature of neighborhood revitalization emphasized a comprehensive approach. Within this context, the concepts of capacity building and catalyst projects are gaining momentum. This thesis explores the emergence of and points of synergy between these concepts through a review of the literature and analysis of two urban design and capacity building projects: the West Philadelphia Landscape Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Bronx River Project in New York City, New York. Underlying this inquiry is the fundamental question: do catalyst projects represent a departure from the status quo or a strategic repackaging of past practices? The primary questions addressed in this thesis are as follows: ** Is there a typology of catalytic effects within neighborhood revitalization projects? What types of circumstances foster the development of catalysts? ** What role does capacity building play in the development of catalytic effects in urban design projects? ** In what ways can project organizers become more deliberate about fostering catalytic effects? This study revealed three types of catalytic effects within the case studies: projects can act as models, foster spin-off projects, or provide an overarching framework to enable other projects to engage. Capacity building and catalytic effects are indeed interconnected and mutually supportive. There is no precise recipe for creating catalytic effects within projects, as they can be unexpected as well as planned. Furthermore, catalytic effects often depend on mediating circumstances, such as timing and organizational capacity, to foster their development. The act of forming partnerships, in particular, builds constituencies, expands funding opportunities, and allows for the development of spin-off projects. Most importantly, adopting a watershed framework as the lens through which to organize proved most significant as it encourages both institutional and neighborhood-level change. Watersheds transcend political, social, and institutional boundaries, and working in this realm necessitates the development and integration of grassroots and city-level actors. The extent to which catalyst projects lead to systems change remains to be seen, however they do present a powerful model for activating both institutional and neighborhood-level change through a single planning effort.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2003.MIT Institute Archives copy: bound 29 x 23 cm.Includes bibliographical references (p. 125-129).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.