Technologies and systems that make cities better for people:

Life With the Vacant Lot

Preparing cities and people for climate change and disaster resilience with dynamic zoning.

Using New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina as a case study, find ways to improve the recovery and resilience of cities — before and after disaster.

Life With the Vacant Lot proposes a system of dynamic zoning that incentivizes urban growth for resilience while balancing the needs of planners and residents. 
Yale University
Independent Thesis Keller Easterling, advisor
Spring 2012


Life With the Vacant Lot proposes a new way to plan communities for change and resilience.

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina suffered an existential crisis: the collision of a precarious environment, degraded infrastructure, social strife, political dysfunction and economic uncertainty. Nothing better symbolizes the cmplexities of this situation than the vacant lot. Years after the storm, as many as an estimated 40,000 vacant lots riddled New Orleans.

Design responses to the vacant lot suffered from being too broad in ambition and too constrained in application. Building resilience into the fabric of a city requires going beyond direct remedies, and understanding the vacant lot as the result of economics, policies and individual decisions as much as natural disaster. A better system should incentivize change — growth, recovery or reduction — in a city before and after disaster, while also respecting the desires of residents and city planners. This kind of system, however, requires new tools to help designers understand the uncertain but probable outcomes of their decisions.

Still curious? Check out some of my other work:


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