Theses Master's

Reconfiguring Montcalm Farm: A Prototype for a New Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Preserving Rural Architecture

Marsh, Michael H.

At its core, this thesis is an acknowledgment that peri-urban development will always take the most expedient form – most often total architectural and programmatic erasure — unless an alternative approach is demonstrated to be both economically feasible and programmatically desirable by its potential users. The thesis will argue that in rare cases , the architectural vestiges and programmatic legacy of a given site may inherently hold sufficient historic, social, cultural, and/or spatial value so as to be worthy of assimilation and reconfiguration, rather than total replacement. The thesis is explicitly concerned with the vast quantity of rural and vernacular fabric at the periphery of urban and suburban sprawl, which falls outside of the traditional classification of historic structures as defined by the Secretary of the Interior's 'Standards' and is consequently ineligible for state or federal funding, and therefore must fend for itself. Rather than viewing such conditions as unfortunate impediments to the preservation process, the thesis seeks to leverage those very forces which threaten these historic properties as a catalyst for layering a renewed vitality upon such sites. Exploring a primarily obsolete former dairy farm located in northern Virginia as a case study for such conditions, the thesis will argue for an alternative approach to peri-urban development, which negotiates between the two extremes of tabula-rasa razing and embalmed 'ghost town.' Recognizing that the 'dignity' of farmland has always been rooted in its self-sufficiency and productive vitality, a modern program will be proposed for the 225 acre property, which will seek to revitalize the site while maintaining continuity and interaction with its five existing programs, and introduce a new 'economic engine' capable of generating sufficient income to support the continued viability of the property.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Cook, Brigitte E.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2012