Title page for ETD etd-08202012-114914

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Thomas, Jordan McClellan
Author's Email Address jordanmt@vt.edu
URN etd-08202012-114914
Title Discovering the Aesthetic of Flood Control Infrastructure
Degree Master of Landscape Architecture
Department Landscape Architecture
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Katen, Brian F. Committee Chair
Bork, Dean R. Committee Member
Kim, Mintai Committee Member
  • infrastructure design
  • levee
  • floodwall
  • landscape architecture
  • flood control
  • green infrastructure
  • infrastructure
  • aesthetics
Date of Defense 2012-04-26
Availability restricted
Infrastructure plays an instrumental role in the shaping of the landscape across many scales and is a

critical human component within the landscape, yet these systems have tended to ignore the function of

appearance and aesthetics in their design. Consequently, the relationship between our infrastructure, the

environment, and us has become increasingly opaque. The majority of the vast infrastructure systems that

weave throughout the landscape promote a mono-functional agenda which is relegated to the background

of our everyday experiences. By investigating the traditional methods of designing infrastructure, we can

begin to understand how to integrate aesthetics into the design of infrastructure. This is explored through

one of the largest infrastructure systems in the United States; flood control. Flood control infrastructure in

is an extensive system that has formed a protective barrier between human and natural processes for over

200 years. Its largest component, the levee, is an elegantly simple structure that contains many layers of

significant cultural and historic aesthetic narratives. This thesis focuses on the levee as an infrastructure

that mediates between natural processes and human development and studies how it can perform

aesthetically to convey new meaning and value. What is the potential of the levee to become expressive in

our lives, and be designed in such a way to move us? This new infrastructural paradigm explores the

implications of utilizing aesthetics as an expressive and significant function of levee design that can

inform and inspire the public and define a new dialogue between man, nature, and technology.

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