Semester of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

Document Type



Historically, landfills have been viewed through an environmental lens as sites for technical remediation, employing scientific or engineering strategies for testing, mitigation and capping. They are more rarely viewed as cultural landscapes, places with histories of habitation and use, or as potential sites for design. This thesis investigation examines the Shelby County Landfill in Memphis, Tennessee from a cultural landscape perspective, opening up a dialog and opportunity to think about this site and other waste sites in a more layered and culturally rich way.

This research contributes to discussions within the field of landscape architecture that present waste landscapes as fertile spaces for design. By tracing the site history of the land that is now the Shelby County Landfill from the 1600s to 2020, this history reveals how water, waste, and race have intersected and influenced each other over time to shape not only the site, but the city of Memphis. This research presents the relevant information that future site designers should consider when designing the Shelby County Landfill site and is a case study for what landfills can teach us about history and the systems that shape culture and the environment.

Committee Chair

Brendan, Harmon