Housing Design Education - What Would Jane Do?

What Would Jane Do?

Gregory Marinic, University of Kentucky


In her seminal 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs theorizes the attributes of socio-economically diverse neighborhoods and how they contribute to the larger organism of the city.

Submitted for review and consideration to the 2019 AIA/ACSA Housing Design Education Award committee, this housing design studio engaged the urban theories of Jane Jacobs and retail obsolescence in the Ohio Valley region as dual catalysts for housing innovation. Based in the REDACTED UNIVERSITY College of Design, this studio introduced students to an interdisciplinary and multi-scalar approach to contemporary design practice with a program incorporating architecture, urban design, interiors, and building conservation.

Gaining an awareness of history, urban theory, and urban-suburban regeneration, students examined the legacy of Jane Jacobs to contemplate how dying shopping malls might serve as unlikely platforms for inclusive housing. The studio began by collectively researching the history of mid-twentieth century American suburbia and shopping malls, as well as the corresponding impact of highway construction on central cities. Critiquing these forces, students interacted with the lessons of Jane Jacobs to speculatively adapt dead malls into mixed-use communities offering complexity, diversity, and housing for all.