This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Next Exploration: Savannah's River Region




Parker, Gray

Type of Degree

Landscape Thesis


Landscape Architecture


Urban landscapes continue to be shaped by dynamic social, cultural, and economic influences. Water remains one component of the landscape that continues to reside in a flux space, influential for life and economic means, but also transportation and recreation, contained and conflicted, but also blurry and free. Savannah, Georgia is a prime example of a city influenced heavily by its waterways. Its strategic location at the intersections of the Savannah River, Intracoastal Waterway, and Atlantic Ocean have made it a key trading town with expanding demands for port infrastructure. These port spaces are new investments to the region, yet often isolated from the city, politically hostile, and continue to become privatized, excluding any possible social or cultural interactions with the public. The Port of Savannah and its future port, Jasper Ocean Terminal, will continue to shape landscapes and population growth in this river basin. The situation in Savannah is similar to other port regions around the world. Economies influence the building and change to the landscape surrounding the port for efficiency. Landscape architects in this subfield are often coming in afterwards to help meet environmental mitigation goals or complete master plans that are never fully implemented. Rather than designing the entire region as a new urban landscape, there is an underutilized ability to perceive relationships across water and land, and be influenced to make design moves based on an understanding and discovery of potential interdependencies between spaces outside the confines of a singular site. Many landscape architects have written about the flows of distribution and invisible global markets that determine how waterways function, but very few have employed historic and contemporary analysis to how a landscape design approach finding latent properties across existing watery landscapes can be socially, culturally, and politically influential from the local, rather than the global. While port authorities in Savannah and Charleston have tried to cooperate and compete for economic means, this research involves a landscape approach that involves design with value to systems thinking, cultural ecologies, and public realm. These design tests foster new experiences and spatial relationships within the waterways that have not been explored before in Savannah, adding value to this region in ways other than strictly economic.