Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Carlos V. Licon


Carlos V. Licon


Caroline M. N. Lavoie


John A. Bissonette


Open space planning has been present within the United States for over a century. Traditionally, open space planning efforts tend to focus more exclusively on either socially-based (e.g., recreational, scenic, or park planning) or ecologically-based (e.g., preserves, habitat networks or more general conservation planning) planning efforts. This separation of ecological and social frameworks in open space planning is reinforced by a persistent cultural model, where community and conservation are seen as opposing forces instead of partners. While recent open space planning efforts have begun to integrate social and ecological frameworks into one plan, the majority of our knowledge on integrated open space planning comes from individual case studies. Thus, a synthesized toolbox for how to practice this planning field is lacking. Given this lack of synthesized knowledge of integrated open space planning, an exploratory effort was undertaken to begin to view this newer planning field through a comprehensive lens. The goal of this research was to identify the state of integrated open space planning and begin to assess whether this state was leading toward "landscape integrity," which suggests that healthy social and ecological systems must function together to be sustainable. Framed within an adapted Pressure-State-Response framework, this thesis employed mixed methods and multiple perspectives to engender a holistic framework that identifies the pressures, state of, and potential responses surrounding integrated open space planning. Pressures synthesized from practice and theory include key barriers and facilitators to achieving integration. For the first time, the state of integrated open space planning has been identified from a synthesis of thirty planning processes, practices, and tools utilized in this new planning field. This framework provides planners with a framework upon which sharing and communication can now take place regarding how integrated open space planning can be institutionalized. Finally, this understanding of the pressures and state reveals potential responses for this newer planning field, including the need for increased collaboration to build this new field of open space planning into a mainstream planning field and increased research into bridging the gaps between theory and practice identified through this thesis. This study found two integrated open space planning models and a breadth of literature supporting a movement away from the community versus conservation dichotomy. While this movement is not yet mainstream, both paradigm shifts and the rapidly changing landscapes in which we live are reinforcing this trend. With the expanded view and holistic framework illustrated by this research, planners are afforded a similar language upon which they can discuss the tools and processes central to integrated open space planning.




This work made publicly available electronically on November 1, 2010.