Weitzman School of Design

The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation. 

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 32
  • Publication
    Evaluation of the Effects of Bottom-Up Management in Preserving Values of Historic Hutong Neighborhood in Beijing: A Case Study of Community-Based Organization (CBO) - Shijia Hutong Historic Preservation Society
    (2016-01-01) Wang, Haoyu
    Preservation of traditional urban neighborhoods in China has long been a government-oriented process. In particular, since the “Old and Dilapidated Housing Renewal Program” implementation in the late 1990s, the Beijing Hutong neighborhood renewal has become an important trigger for the municipal governments to engage with the real estate market. Yet over the years, the official forces have been facing increasing challenges in the development of politics, socio-culture, and economy. As a complement to the current top-down management, the bottom-up approach could improve the recognition of a holistic spectrum of site values in the fast changing environments. However, the lack of on-the-ground community collaborations has limited the ability to test a grassroots-oriented preservation mechanism. The projects dedicated to renovating the courtyard built environments and promoting the neighborhood’s intangible values by applying a resident-centered decision-making process create valuable opportunities for the preservation practitioners to experiment with a bottom-up approach. The establishment of Shijia Hutong Historic Preservation Society (SHHPS) as the first registered community-based organization (CBO) in Beijing, has facilitated the transformation of decision-making roles between the officials and grassroots. My research probes into the effectiveness of a bottom-up management approach relative to the current top-down system in preserving the values of the Hutong neighborhood. The evaluation adopts a value-centered methodology for identifying, documenting and categorizing multiple values of the study area. Comparative analysis of the renovation project demonstrates the differences between the two approaches in the integration of interests, implementations and subsequent reviews. The efforts of promoting preservation mediated through a dedicated CBO have a beneficial effect on pursuing a more adaptive and sustainable system for the historical Chinese social contexts within the Hutong neighborhood.
  • Publication
    Preserving Large Farming Landscapes: The Case of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
    (2017-05-01) Daniels, Thomas L.; Payne-Riley, Lauren
    Preserving large farming landscapes is one of the main goals of farmland preservation programs. Other goals include protecting highly productive soils, maintaining and enhancing the local farming economy, and promoting locally produced fresh food. Farmland preservation programs take time, however, because of the hefty funding requirements and the detailed process of preserving farmland through the acquisition of conservation easements by purchase or donation. The standard measures of dollars spent and farmland acres preserved do not give an accurate picture of the spatial outcomes of preservation and preservation effectiveness. Three other measures better reflect the spatial effectiveness of farmland preservation: acreage and percentage of preserved farm parcels located in agricultural zones, number and acreage of preserved farm parcels in large contiguous blocks, and number and acreage of preserved farm parcels along growth boundaries. Scattered preserved farms and preserved farms not located in agricultural zones are likely to face more nonfarm development nearby as well as problems with non- farm neighbors. The farmland preservation effort in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, provides an important case study of the pattern of farmland preservation over time. Other counties and land trusts can employ geographic information systems (GIS) methods in this study to monitor and evalu- ate the progress of their farmland preservation efforts.
  • Publication
    Data-Based Urban Heritage Policy Assessment: Evaluating Tel Aviv’s Preservation Plan
    (2021-05-01) Feiglin, Ilil
    Urban heritage policies are rarely assessed on a regular or continuous basis. Formal indicator guidelines and scholarly work address some possible evaluation methods for urban heritage policies, but a gap exists between the generalized work and limited on-site implementation. Spatial and non-spatial datasets should contribute to our understanding and refinement of such policies. Yet, in practice, data and the proper assessment mechanisms are often lacking. This research presents Tel Aviv’s 2650b preservation plan as a case study to explore possible assessment methods of policy effectiveness. Tel Aviv is the second-largest city in Israel. In 2003 UNESCO declared the White City of Tel Aviv, the center-city area, a World Heritage Site (WHS). UNESCO based the designation on an outstanding synthesis of the Modern architecture movement and an outstanding example of new town planning of the 20th century. Municipal plan 2650b was enacted in 2008 and is linked to the WHS, protecting modern architecture and mainly focusing on the center-city area. The Plan classifies properties into two preservation levels and three architectural styles. The city’s online building archive facilitates analysis and evaluation of plan 2650b. The Plan has been in place for over a decade, during which no data-driven comprehensive evaluation or monitoring processes occurred. Relying upon Kitchin’s definition of effectiveness, in the context of urban indicators, as “whether goals and objectives are being met – doing the right things,” this research asks: what factors correlate with the effectiveness of Tel Aviv’s preservation plan? Three sub-questions lead the research: Are the Plan’s goals being met? Are they being met in the same way throughout the Plan area? And, how, if at all, are pre-existing characteristics of the properties addressed by the Plan? The study assesses the outlined goals and presents a roadmap for constructing indicators and spatial analysis for a specific policy. The study approach uses an author-created property-level database to assess proposed customized indicators and run spatial analysis. It finds that the prevalence of preservation varies across space, among architectural types, and between the two preservation-restriction levels. In particular, the Plan is relatively less effective at preserving Modernist buildings. These findings reveal the inconsistency of the Plan at protecting the Modernist architecture at the core of the global designation. The results stress the need for data collection, setting numeric objectives, monitoring plan outcomes, and potential future research to realign incentives with preservation goals.
  • Publication
    Redlining and the Homeowners' Loan Corporation
    (2003-05-01) Hillier, Amy E
    This article analyzes the impact of the residential security maps created by the Home Owners’Loan Corporation (HOLC) during the 1930s on residential mortgages in Philadelphia. Researchers have consistently argued that HOLC caused redlining and disinvestment in U.S. cities by sharing its color-coded maps. Geographic information systems and spatial statistical models were used to analyze address-level mortgage data from Philadelphia to determine if areas with worse grades actually had less access to residential mortgage credit as a result. Findings indicate that the grades on HOLC’s map do not explain differences in lending patterns with the exception of interest rates, which were higher in areas colored red. Archival material and journal articles from the 1930s also reveal that lenders were avoiding areas colored red before HOLC made its maps, that HOLC’s maps were not widely distributed, and that lenders had other sources of information about real estate risk levels.
  • Publication
    Mapping Urban Infrastructure: Temporal Metropolitan Geographies of Nonprofit Human Service Organizations
    (2022-05-01) Massey, Sarah Nicole
    Across the United States, planning for human services relies largely upon public-private partnerships with nonprofit organizations as the result of decades of federal retrenchment. The locational patterns of nonprofit human services organizations (NHSOs) have been studied in the nonprofit literature, but there is little scholarship on this topic in the realm of city planning. This research connects these two disciplines while answering two questions: 1) Where do NHSOs cluster over time within metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)? 2) Are NHSOs locating in response to community needs, resources, or conditions? In order to establish generalizable results across space and time, this study used a multi-site analysis of eight MSAs in 2010 and 2018: Austin, TX; Buffalo, NY; Cleveland, OH; Indianapolis, IN; Philadelphia, PA; Research Triangle, NC; Sacramento, CA; and Seattle, WA. Two quantitative methods explored these questions. First, a spatial analysis used density-based clustering to identify clusters of NHSOs throughout each MSA. Then linear regression modeling revealed relationships between the NHSO landscape and various socioeconomic and built environment variables. The results of this analysis demonstrated evidence of NHSO clustering that warrants further investigation. Furthermore, the evidence confirmed previous findings that NHSO patterns are more related to resources and community conditions than need. While this study contributes to a growing body of research in the nonprofit field, there are theoretical frameworks, practical tools, and policy solutions that should prompt city planners to take interest in this subject as well.
  • Publication
    Raised or Razed: The Challenge of Climate Adaptation and Social Equity in Historic Coastal Communities
    (2014-01-01) Isacoff, Rachel B
    Climate change threatens historic coastal communities, and reducing vulnerability through adaptation will not be easy – but it is necessary. Differing values of government agencies and local communities – contingent on attitudes to risk and cultural restrictions on action – may limit the options for adaptation. This thesis analyzes policy constraints for implementing the preventive strategies of constructing levees, elevating buildings and relocating towns in historic districts in the mid-Atlantic coastal region and makes recommendations for proactive, community-based decision-making processes.
  • Publication
    To Whom Does Philadelphia Belong? Exploring and Defining "Institutional Investment" in Single Family Rentals in Philadelphia
    (2023-04-01) Underwood, Cade Warner
    Since the global financial crisis of 2007-2009, single-family rentals have dramatically risen to prominence as a uniquely profitable asset class for institutional investors, especially in the United States. Made possible by a combination of three primary factors – the post-crisis inexpensive Real Estate Owned (REO) homes surplus, the decline in working-class wealth and ability to purchase homes, and the emergence of new property management technology – institutional investors are, for the first time, rapidly acquiring hundreds of thousands of single-family homes. The resulting single-family rental portfolios have also inspired novel investment profiteering strategies, which researchers increasingly argue profit at the direct expense of tenants and prospective owner-occupants. However, at the heart of these arguments, there exist critical unanswered questions around how “institutional investment” is defined and understood. As a result, public interpretations of important research frequently misunderstand its gravity. Journalists and policymakers tend to mitigate researchers’ claims, either arguing that “all home buyers are investors” or reducing all institutional investment to a handful of prominent players. This thesis seeks to empower existing and forthcoming research by clarifying how and why institutional investment should be understood, distinctly, in the modern day. The thesis first traces the historical development of institutional investors, then explores new methods for analyzing under-studied, smaller-scale institutional investment strategies. Most existing research has focused heavily on specific, large-scale investors and the cities where they generally operate. Instead, this research pilots methods to examine under-studied investor behavior in Philadelphia, the largest US city that has thus far received almost no research attention. The thesis then forwards the argument that, without a developed understanding of institutional investment, Philadelphia forfeits power over to whom its homes belong and who profits from those homes.
  • Publication
    Why We Demolish: Assessing Heritage Loss in Philadelphia as a Catalyst for Policy Innovation in Historic Preservation
    (2014-01-01) Kuntz, Samantha E
    Demolition of listed historic resources through policy provisions such as economic hardship and public interest has, in recent years, led to increased controversy and tension in the preservation community. As approvals to demolish such heritage anchors as the Sidney Hillman Medical Center, the Church of the Assumption, the Levy-Leas Mansion, the Episcopal Cathedral's Parish House, and the Boyd Theater interior continue to place the Philadelphia Historical Commission and developers at odds with preservation advocates, it is important to review the policy documents at the core of the issue. This thesis proposes that it is not the Commission but the policies that are complicating the Commission's ability to best protect heritage assets. By examining how and why historically designated properties are demolished in Philadelphia (through a review of policy precedents and local case studies), this work proposes policy recommendations to stimulate innovation in preservation and reduce prolonged demolition cases in the future.
  • Publication
    Public Transportation in Ski Towns: An Analysis for the Ski Town Workforce and Visiting Populations
    (2021-05-01) Schaffner, Perry
    Skiing has grown rapidly in popularity within the past six decades as resorts have recorded record numbers of visitors. Ski towns are now flooded with additional residents and visitors. Ski towns are now busy year-round as resorts have transitioned to four-season operations. Public transit in ski towns currently struggles to meet the needs of all population groups, but mainly the needs of service industry workers. Public transportation alternatives must be considered as a viable option to support the transportation needs of local year-round residents and transient populations. This study seeks to address the questions: What are the main transportation challenges that ski towns face? How is planning for ski town transportation systems different from those in other recreation areas? What role do the ski resorts play in public transportation systems? What are some of the most necessary transportation interventions for ski towns in the Western United States? This study will examine whether and how a ski town can successfully implement public transportation options that serve local residents, the workforce and visitors. This is a comparative case study analysis that examines public transportation systems in the three ski towns of Park City, Utah, Vail, Colorado, and Truckee, California. This study’s methods include a survey of public perceptions regarding transportation in ski towns, interviews with transportation planning professionals, and an analysis of transportation plans. These three methods support final recommendations for ways these towns might seek to improve their public transportation offerings to better serve both the environmental and financial wellbeing of their towns. Public transportation has been a hot topic in the planning world, and planning for niche transportation systems, such as those in tourism-based destinations presents a set of challenges that needs to be better addressed and researched. Extensive research exists on tourism-based transportation and the funding of transportation systems, but few studies have focused on ski towns and those aspects that make this type of tourism transportation different. Getting visitors out of their cars solves many problems like driving accidents, reducing the often-gridlocked traffic, and navigating in the snow.
  • Publication
    Spatial Analysis of Historical Redlining: A Methodological Explanation
    (2003-01-01) Hillier, Amy E
    Despite widespread belief that redlining contributed to disinvestment in cities, there has been little empirical analysis of historical lending patterns. The lack of appropriate data and clear definitions of redlining has contributed to this void. This article reviews definitions and methods that have emerged from research on lending in recent years and considers how they can be applied to research on historical redlining. Address-level mortgage data from Philadelphia from the 1940s are analyzed using spatial regression, “hot spot” analysis, and surface interpolation. Employing multiple definitions of redlining that focus on process and outcome, as well as spatial and statistical relationships in lending, the analyses result in a series of map layers that indicate where redlining may have occurred. In addition to providing some evidence of lending discrimination, this article promotes an explicitly spatial view of redlining that has conceptual and methodological implications for research on contemporary and historical redlining.