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How can communities be incorporated onto the site of a closed military base?
The Government owns billions of square feet of unused property across the United States. In fact, the United States Government owns over 50% of the land in the Western half of the country. Military facilities
occupy the largest area of federal land, aside from parks and forests. Many of these military sites are being left to their own demise. In fact, 27% of the nation’s military installations have been closed by the Department of Defense, via the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiative, leaving millions of square feet of land and structures to crumble.
Vacant property, while unoccupied, is still owned by some entity. When the federal government leaves a piece of property vacant, taxpayers continue to pay for its existence. Military facilities consume the largest costs and area of federal land, and are closing at an exponential rate. The closure of military bases can cause a shift in the population and the economy of an area. If a base is left to its own demise it will remain an unnecessary burden on the community. If there is a void in the economy surrounding a military base it can become impossible for the community to develop the site.
Conceptually, designers need to understand the relationship between the closure of military bases and the regional economy so that their designs will reACTIVATE the surrounding community, rather than create a financial hardship. It is the goal of this thesis to show that through a thorough understanding and appropriate selection of program, communities can continue to experience economic growth even after a base has shut down.
I chose former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin, located in Tustin, California [40 miles south of Los Angeles] as the canvas for my exploration. Situated on a 1,000 acre site are two massive blimp hangars, each one has a 300,000 square foot base and 17-storey height. I chose this site for its prominent void [physical, economic, and social] within a highly developed and growing community. It is not the intent of this project to produce a zoning plan for this site, but rather, provide a physical connection onto and through the site.