Joshua Brooks

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

Grounded Aerial Futures: Humanism + The City in the Aerial Age

New technologies directly related, and tangentially linked to airport services and functions will drastically change the airport infrastructure typology including city connectivity, space allocation, environmental circumstances and security. With this change, there will be a need for cities to redefine their relationships with airports and plan new models.

In urban context like Boston, there is an opportunity for the development of a new urban typology, one that includes new forms of aviation services while creating different centers for growth, open spaces, increased regional connectivity, and places for people. Due to its size and proximity, the current legacy urban airports of the 20th century provide an urban asset with tremendous potential for change.

This thesis explores a speculative future for the current Logan Airport site, in the center of the Boston metropolitan region, as a prototype of this new urban typology. The first half of this thesis utilizes research on technology, precedents, current physical, social, and economic issues, and theories of city development as a starting point for how cities might conceive a future for legacy urban airports. The second half of the thesis presents a framework vision for how a new urban typology might unfold. In concert with this vision specific urban design issues related to humanism, ecological resiliency, and city connectivity are explored through a series of design objectives. Additionally, a discussion and suggestions of implementation policies frame the project within its larger social and urban construct. Finally, this particular vision is presented as a prototype for other cities and legacy urban airport sites of similar condition.

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