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As architects, we continue to add enclosed spaces to the market in every city on a nearly daily basis, yet millions of square feet of viable, designed space lie empty around the world. While the responsibility of the surplus of leasable square feet is most often assumed to be shouldered by the real estate market, as designers, we must as some point begin to ask ourselves if the blame for the continued ignorance of this issue of vacancy cannot be laid at our feet. Spatial needs change with the economy, technology, and social needs, but have they changed so much that we cannot even adapt our most versatile spaces to accommodate them? The habits of building new and tearing down the old cannot continue, especially in the densest parts of our cities. We must explore how to adapt to our current situations, and even how to live within the forgotten spaces in the city. It isn’t hard to look forward to a time when new construction and destruction is no longer tolerated. The recent economic collapse and this period of rebuilding the economy that we are currently in has already illustrated the need to redefine our development principles. At what point do we, as architects, have to legitimately redefine our role in our industry? The changes in our field are already evident. We are a luxury, no longer necessary to the building process - yet the architecture field remains the source of some of the most innovative approaches to social, economic, and urbanistic problems around the world.
This thesis seeks ways to redefine the role of the architect in a city through the exploration of existing vacant spaces and strategies for their occupation and allocation.