School of Architecture College of Design

Architecture Honors Student Theses


Architecture Honors Student Theses

by Cozy Hannula


As a member of the University Honors Program, I have the opportunity to write a thesis.  It has been really fun to choose a topic that I am passionate about and to explore a topic over an entire year and not just a semester.  While writing my own thesis, it’s also been great to learn about the research of my colleagues; so I thought I’d share with you some of the great research that’s happening from the senior honors architecture students. 



Josh Blonsky

I'm Joshua Blonsky a senior in the BDA; for my senior honor's thesis I have decided to study Paris. More specifically, the idea of Parisian identity and how it is linked to architecture. I was fortunate enough to have been able to spend my entire third year exploring the streets of Paris. It was an experience which was formative for me and my research. I have come to realize that Paris is a city where Parisians are not defined by their address, but rather their style, their behavior, a certain "je ne sais quoi parisien." With this understanding, I am now finding out how the physical space of Paris sets up a stage of life where people can quintessentially prove their Parisian-ness; after all as Edmund White said in his book, The Flâneur, "in Paris everyone is judging everyone."


Max Dickson

Safe Routes: Reclaiming Neighborhood Streets to Promote Youth Mobility

My thesis examines how the design of neighborhood streets can respond to an increase in obesity and loss of independence among children and young adults by enhancing their mobility options through walking and bicycling. Using the Southwest Light Rail Transit project and the City of St. Louis Park as my sites, I am investigating the pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as the land use around the Wooddale Avenue Station in its ½-mile station walkshed. My active transportation proposal will demonstrate how the re-design of neighborhood streets can provide children and young adults with more opportunities to walk and bike, move and explore in a landscape that is safe and supportive. 

Caitlin Dippo

As a graduating architecture student I am dreading the day that the College of Design's wood shop and digital fabrication lab are no longer mine to call home. This got me wondering what resources are available to those of us to identify as "makers" in the Twin Cities Metro. My thesis project aims to map and document "makerspaces" and communicate their information to the public through a website and physical maps that will be placed throughout the Twin Cities. My hope is that by simply making this information readily available, this project will assist in connecting people and ideas to the appropriate tools, therefore helping the Twin Cities Maker Movement grow and evolve.

Picture: The Hack Factory where Twin Cities Makers meet and build. 


Shawn Halvorson

I consider architecture to be organization and orchestration of movement through space in order to emotionally create place. We perceive architecture to be something subjectively experienced, with defined, physical boundaries and designed circulation that we follow as we enter and exit at our leisure. What if our experience became suddenly objective, where our perceptions of orientation, surface and threshold became blurred, irrational, or overwhelming? This project will approach a discussion of architecture through a lens of the "uncanny", defined by Sigmund Freud to be "un-homely" and uncomfortable space. I will define and analyze the uncanny in three case studies: Winchester House in San Jose, California built in 1884, Mark Danielewski’s novel House of Leaves, and Gregor Schnieder’s Haus Ur built in Berlin, Germany in 1943. My ideas and definition of the uncanny will manifest through written comparative analysis, drawing, and modeling to represent the spatial sensations of the uncanny in each case study and to provoke discussion towards the situational, temporal, and ethical bearings of space.


Cozy Hannula

My thesis is investigating the question of why women with degrees in architecture either leave the profession or never enter at higher rates than men.  40% of graduating students are women but only about 25% of the profession is women.  I'm taking a critical look at the research that has been done and understanding how it can be improved.  The thesis will propose a survey that reframes the way we understand and gather data on the topic of women in architecture.


Evan Hildebrand

My thesis investigates the design of puzzle mazes.  The goal of the thesis is to define ten key principles of contemporary maze design, with the hope that these design principles can be applied not just to making mazes more fun and enjoyable, but could be applied to the design of the rest of our built world as well, injecting a little more fun and wonderment into the places we visit every day.  I've always been fascinated by mazes and architectural puzzles, and I'm thrilled to get the chance to focus on them for my thesis. 

Image: Laberint d'Horta in Barcelona, Spain 


Lenna Johnson

My thesis seeks to investigate the potential of the Ralph Rapson-designed Southeast Library to be adapted to modern library uses. This project is especially relevant because of the ongoing development of the Dinkytown neighborhood and the prevalence of midcentury buildings falling into disrepair or threatened with demolition. By researching and analyzing precedents in contemporary library design and historic preservation, the historical material available through the Northwest Architectural Archives, and the building analysis done by the Hennepin County Library, this thesis is an architectural speculation of the Southeast Library's future.



Alli Mertins

Told from several different perspectives, comes the story of property rights as experienced in the informal settlements, favelas, of Rio de Janeiro. What is real, and what is perceived?


Paige Steed

This thesis looks at Singapore's historic Boat Quay in relation to the contemporary downtown to determine the importance of historic architecture in a global city.  After visiting Singapore this past summer, the question of its architectural identity interested me.  I had the impression of being anywhere in the world while walking through the downtown streets, but once I reached the streets of Boat Quay, the history and identity of the area showed through.  The mixed identity created by historic shophouses against contemporary skyscrapers gives Downtown Singapore its unique charm.Description:


June Zhu

Chinese Symbolic Representations: A Graphic History of the Yellow Crane Tower in the Context of Wuhan City’s Urban Revolution

My thesis is a history project focuses on the Yellow Crane Tower, one of the most well-known pagodas in the Chinese history. The thesis explores how the architecture changes throughout the history reflects the urban evolution processes of its urban context through writing and diagraming. Acting as an intentional monument of Wuhan City at its origin in 223 C.E., the Yellow Crane Tower has been transformed/rebuilt/ relocated various times, and thus recorded in different ways. Using a typical representation of the Tower at the beginning of each chapter to unfold the architecture’s history (government scroll, map, artistic paintings, inscriptions, etc.), my project uses the Yellow Crane Tower as a case study to look at the evolution of Chinese representation. 


1773 Walled City of Wuchang, the Tower exaggerated in scale 

Yuan Dynasty, Shanxi Yongle Palace, fresco of the Yellow Crane Tower

East Elevation construction drawing of 1985 reconstruction, Xinran Xiang, An Investigation and Representation of the Yellow Crane Tower's Architecture, Wuhan Press: 2014.9 [Illustrations]

Ten Cents Back Note with the Tower, issue by "Hupeh Provicial Bank", 1925


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