Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)


Art and Art History


Sibel Zandi-Sayek

Committee Members

Fernando Galeana-Rodriguez

Alan Braddock


Originating in the 1960’s and 1970’s and blossoming in the last two decades, the field of sustainable design grew out of a need to afford future generations ample social, environmental, and economic ability to shape their built environments in an increasingly developing and globalizing world. Sustainable design projects run a wide gamut, from creating energy efficient buildings, to configuring ecologically appropriate landscapes, and harnessing the geographical and social assets of a region. The field’s broad scope is further complicated by sociopolitical and cultural assumptions that design firms and clients make about the locality of projects, be it the so-called ‘Global North and South’ divide or idealized notions of urbanity and rurality. These assumptions—together with less subjective site characteristics such as climate and resource availability—play an important role in determining the management style (small local teams versus large multinational teams) and materials (locally versus globally sourced) of a given project.

This study aims to assess four distinctive sub-practices of contemporary sustainable design practices that developed in response to growing professional fragmentation and deepening sociopolitical and cultural assumptions of a neoliberal market culture. Specifically, it explores sustainable design projects that respectively prioritize: (1) Quantitative Environmental Performance, (2) Qualitative Environmental Performance, (3) Cross-Cultural Adaptability of Design, and (4) Scalability of Design. Using select case studies, this study both contextualizes each practice and brings them into dialogue with one another. In doing so, it reveals how lessons learned in one context can be put to use in others and calls for better integration of disparate knowledge that has emerged within sustainable design in the past two decades.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

On-Campus Access Only