Architecture Program


Date of this Version

Summer 8-17-2013

Document Type



Hawks, Elizabeth G. "BOOMtown: A Momentary Community" Master of Architecture Thesis, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2013


A THESIS Presented to the Architecture Faculty of The College of Architecture at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Architecture, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Brian Kelly. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2013.

Copyright (c) 2013 Elizabeth G. Hawks


“Gillette Syndrome” describes a condition within a city undergoing rapid growth, usually due to the introduction of a new industry within the city or more specifically, the extraction of a newly discovered natural resource. Symptoms of the syndrome are an increase in crime and decay within a city and a decrease in community identity.

Global oil prices continue to rise as the resource becomes more difficult to extract from the earth’s layers. The new price of oil necessitates the extraction of crude through methods that were previously too expensive to justify.

These new methods are utilized for extracting oil in areas thought to be unproductive in the past. These new, mostly rural or remote areas now hold the potential to burst with economic activity. Currently, Western North Dakota is experiencing such an economic boom.

However, the nature of the oil extraction reveals a limited time-line for the life of the boom. Without supplemental means for sustaining the influx, the city will eventually return to a more sustainable population, though this is after having to support the needs of a city double in size for 20 - 30 years.

The question then becomes, how can these remote cities avoid becoming a ghost town when the overnight expansion is over? Is it ok for the city to be taken advantage of and left for dead? Or is there a way to supply for the needs of the boom while planning for a graceful decline into normalcy once the industry has moved on? Can these new practices be mobile so as to assist in the sustaining of remote towns wherever the industry may go next?

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