This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations





Taylor, Rachel

Type of Degree



Landscape Architecture


The world is not cleanly divided into separate self-contained entities. Rather, the landscape is comprised of components that overlap, interact, and intermingle with each other, creating gradients and ecotones between components. Such is the case when land meets water. The interface between the terrestrial and aquatic realms is infinitely complex, but is often treated as a hard boundary in urban settings. Channelization and impoundment of rivers creates an impermeable barrier along the banks and limits the amount of interaction between the river and the floodplain, often leading to increased flooding, degradation of riparian ecotones, and the perception that the river and the city are two completely separate and independent worlds. This is the case in the city of Columbus, Georgia. The interface between the Chattahoochee River and the urban built environment has the potential to become the hub of social and ecological interactions in Columbus, yet is treated as a type of no-man's land, riddled with utility lines, riprap, and a rarely used pedestrian path along the bank. Analyzing the habitats of different life forms, water flow, and sediment deposition through mapping reveals the true nature of the relationship between river and city. Activity is concentrated where water and land meet, but the division is indistinct, dissipating outwards and forming a gradient. By embracing the riparian zone as a gradient and center of interactions rather than a hard boundary between two conditions (aquatic and urban), Columbus and the Chattahoochee River will cease to exist at two separate entities. "Re-connecting" the urban fabric to the river will be unnecessary, as they will be one and the same, intermingling and blurring the distinction between land and water. This has the potential to change the nature of riverfront design. Altering people's perceptions to embrace the river as part of the city could encourage both cities and designers to take a more responsible approach when interacting with bodies of water, keeping in mind the needs and movement of non-human life forms.