Theses Master's

Evaluating the Built Environment of Innovation Districts

Vien, Tiffany

Innovation districts are defined as where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster together to connect with start-ups and small businesses (Katz and Wagner 2018). Although there are vast distinctions in terms of form and function, all innovation districts contain three main assets - economic, physical, networking - to create an innovation ecosystem. The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate how the built environment of cities has morphed through the establishment of innovation hubs and districts. By analyzing the changes to the physical landscape, demographic shifts may also be observed as the formation of these districts may cause existing residents to be displaced or entice newcomers into the area. Two hubs of innovation, Industry City and Brooklyn Navy Yard which are both located in Brooklyn, New York City, will be utilized as case studies. This thesis will pose two main research questions: How has the formation of innovation hubs altered the demographics and built environment of the area? What do these areas of innovation offer and how do they differ from the key components found in formalized innovation districts? Through a comparative case study analysis, findings can be made on how these innovation hubs have influenced two different neighborhoods in the same borough. This thesis conducted a mixed-methods approach through the spatial analysis of the case study sites to identify changes in surrounding areas. Other qualitative methods included site visits to observe and experience the built environment as well as interviews with planners and agents that have been involved with the development and maintenance of these innovation hubs. Assessing the mix of amenities and uses offered in these two locations will assist in determining how certain aspects of these innovation hubs are able to form an innovation ecosystem.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hong, Boyeong
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
August 5, 2022