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Waterfronts are attractors. Their generous scale, dramatic geography, and prime location in many cities give them an obvious urbanistic prominence. When an urban waterfront is revitalized, everyone notices. When it is left to decline, everyone does too. For this reason, a city's waterfront is intertwined with its brand, the constructed identity embodying the qualities, potentials and speculative future of a city.

A prominent waterfront molds a city's image. It is no accident that this is often the same image that frequents the glossy fronts of postcards. A waterfront is often asked to speak for a city, to be its face to the world. The regeneration of urban waterfronts over the past half century has had an exceptional ability to guide the perception of many cities. When a city undertakes the redevelopment of its industrial embankments into new public space, it is a directed attempt to shape its identity. There is an understanding that the world is watching.

Whether an attempt to be perceived as "romantic," "visionary" or "leisurely," the brand of a city has direct effects on international status, potential to draw in tourism, ability to act as a magnet for businesses, and the daily life of its residents. The efficacy of building and guiding this image is of great importance to the success of a city.

This project will investigate the methods major cities have employed to shape their own brands over the past few decades. It will explore interventions to further existing positive identities or reshape negative ones. It will examine the correlation between the constructed waterfront and the trajectory of the city that claims it.

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Parks, Promenades and Planning

2010 Rotch Traveling Scholarship