This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Beyond The Pit [of Democracy]: Mine Reclamation, Emergence, and Finite Resources




Ballard, Daniel

Type of Degree



Landscape Architecture


Through the integration of democratic process with that of the reclamation of the Martin-Marietta Aggregate Quarry (MMQ), my design research proposes that it is possible to positively change contemporary understanding of the potential, performance, and value of landscape as a finite resource. As the democratic process of participatory design is becoming near-standard practice for projects of broad public interests, I argue that the method fails to achieve the optimization of ecological, cultural, and economic value of both public and private landscapes. Rather, I suggest that these potentials are more likely found through the democratic freedom of endless transformation. By furthering the gesture of participatory design through the wholehearted gift of transformative freedom, the interest of the many may become the interest of the collective, thereby generating an endless succession of positive feedback and resulting in the emergence of a new landscape; one that is truly formed by the people, for the people. My design project demonstrates how accountability for such a multitude of potential interests can be maintained through a collaborative stakeholder approval process. Design visualizations are utilized to demonstrate the multiplicity and diversity of potential found within degraded landscapes and, to a larger extent, to allow the reader to "reimagine" a post-mined use that redefines productivity and value. It is through the feedback process of an ongoing democratic engagement of the site that ecological, social, cultural, and economic accountability are maintained. Furthermore, it is implied that stakeholder approval process ensures that the agenda and /or use of or by one group may not hinder the capacity of another to enjoy the same, thereby enabling the endless evolution of the MMQ landscape to reveal its true performance potential. Participants, or stakeholders, in the development of the MMQ landscape will then come to the realization that their collective potential to work together toward a common goal has transcended their previous expectations and beliefs (with independent agendas) about the value of the landscape and the resources that permit its existence. What is generated is a new understanding and expectation for how landscapes are developed, how finite resources are managed, and how altered landscapes are valued. This research argues that these changes of perception would allow for greater capacity in our societies ability to cohabit an earth with increasingly diminishing opportunities (and resources) to do so.