Building a Better Future on the Foundations of the Past: Incorporating Historic Districts into Ecocities

Historic Preservation Thesis

Nicole Ambrose

Ward Dennis, advisor

In an effort to become more sustainable, many cities are embarking on ecocity projects: city-wide urban projects intended to minimize environmental impacts as a result of urban development through a combination of environmental policy and urban planning. This thesis discussed how the ecocity movement could complement and conflict with historic preservation. The case studies of Strasbourg, France and Alexandria, Virginia shed light on how preservation can be successfully incorporated into ecocity plans. A best practices guide, synthesized from the case studies, outlined how preservation should be incorporated in the various planning stages to further a city’s sustainable goals. This thesis concluded that in many cases preservation goals and the sustainable goals identified in ecocity plans align, but without the inclusion of and collaboration with preservation professionals during the early planning stages, preservation can be left out of ecocity plans and historic fabric can ultimately be threatened by new “sustainable” development.