Adapting design and societal norms for affordability, resiliency, and lifespan values in infill housing

Thesis by Dylan Burns draws from dual graduate studies in architecture and urban planning

Dylan Burns presenting his thesis.

Dylan Burns' thesis included a critique of Buffalo's Unified Development Ordinance (also known as the Buffalo Green Code) through the lens of affordability, resiliency and lifespan values.

by Tyler Madell

Published May 16, 2019

Dylan Burns, who will graduate this week with his MArch/MUP degree, recently shared findings from his thesis research on design strategies for optimizing resiliency, affordability and lifespan values in infill housing. 

Burns' thesis, titled Resilient, Affordable, and Lifespan Design Approaches in Urban Infill Housing, explores each value's effect on design, independent of other values. For example, while his resilient design is tall and narrow to optimize solar potential and other ecological benefits, his affordable design is a simple two-story home made of low-cost materials. His lifespan design prioritizes physical accessibility, consisting of a one-story home with a wide footprint.

Each of the three optimized designs are used as a way of analyzing how Buffalo's recently adopted Green Code would impact neighborhoods if it were changed to reflect extreme versions of the three values. His research showed how values of resiliency, affordability, and lifespan characteristics impact spatial configuration, material components, and the appearance and function of a house.

Dylan Burns defended his thesis last week to a packed room of faculty and students. His dissertation committee included architecture professors Beth Tauke (committee chair); Martha Bohm, assistant professor of architecture; and Zoé Hamstead, assistant professor of urban planning.

After graduation, Burns will join Foit-Albert Associates in a construction administration role. He will continue to work on various personal design projects, including an amphitheater at Silo City.

Presenting his findings: Dylan Burns' research showed how values of resiliency, affordability, and lifespan characteristics impact spatial configuration, material components, and the appearance and function of a house.