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The Retrofit: Suburban Ideals Into City Grid
Reinersman, Michael D., M.A.

2016, MARCH, University of Cincinnati, Design, Architecture, Art and Planning: Architecture.
The American Dream provides an ideal that everyone should have equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, motivation and determination. The place one decides to live –home, has everything to do with how possible this ideal can be achieved. It is an important decision as it influences our career, bank accounts, where we send our kids to school and overall well-being. Fulfilling this dream is often associated with the suburbs as road development and increasing opportunity to build on land at the outskirts of the city allow accessibility to what the city provides. Instead of urban sprawl, suburban sprawl has been magnified since mid-twentieth century causing the premise of the classic American Dream to evolve from an ideal of opportunity to an ideal of ownership where the program(s) of the home –the garden, room, privacy, and then, the freedom to personalize this space do not align with the purpose and advantages of living near or in the city. There are American cities where city dwellers are acclimated to public transportation, smaller living space, no yard, and lack of privacy at times, but for a city such as Cincinnati, Ohio, there is a disconnection between the rate of suburban sprawl and sustainability at the city’s core. This city has drawn working people to its international business for decades but with stronger desires for more room, garden and individualism at home, working people are quickly drawn out of the city and to the suburbs. The features making the city are devalued as suburbanites consider it a place to drive to for work, park in a garage and moving directly into their offices by elevator –at any point, never adding to or gaining value the city’s fabric has to offer. This thesis explores the idea bringing all amenities found in building in the suburbs back to the city. This would salvage existing neighborhoods and create even more diversity within the already existing city.
The city’s population will grow and the need to accommodate growing populations is necessary –not in suburban America, but in America’s cities. Instead of replacing the redundancy of poured concrete driveways along a neighborhood street for another pattern of repeated hollow metal doors along a fire-rated hallway, this thesis attempts to illuminate personalization that home owners and renters take pride in. Instead of wasting more land and exhausting more time and energy to get place to place, an enhanced quality of family life could be achieved if customized structures were designed and available to really accommodate the ideal of ownership and to accommodate the desires to create one’s own space with room to grow.
The thesis identifies and defines the components that which make living in the suburbs desirable. The Retrofit then applies the components of the suburbs to dense urban environment by creating a vertical structure that includes these needs. The horizontal commute and program is tipped, and imposed vertically within the city, coalescing the typologies of urban high-rise living and the social and physical ideals found in suburbia.
Udo Greinacher, M.Arch. (Committee Chair)
Vincent Sansalone, M.Arch. (Committee Member)
35 p.

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