Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Taner R. Ozdil


The purpose of this research is to understand the extent to which developers perceive landscape architecture to be a valuable component of mixed-use developments/centers in Texas and how such perceptions add value to their investment strategies. The research focuses on the mixed-use center landscape typology, a growth sector in Texas regional real estate development (VNT, 2014). Since 2000, approximately an 80% Texas population growth occurred in the four major metropolitan areas, Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio (Slijk,.& Saving, 2018) and global trends illustrate that by the year 2050 70% of world population will live in cities (United Nations, 2018). As urban areas continue to grow and population increases, mixed-use centers, have become the preferred model for development in Texas to accommodate density. The urban growth environment calls for a deeper understanding of the value equation between the divergent goals of landscape architecture and real estate investors. In particular, a comparison of how landscape architects discern value of a particular site or design proposal often yields a disconnect in the qualitative self-assessments of landscape architects versus the quantitative assessment or design feasibility studies of developers (Guironnet & Halbert, 2014; Jerke et al, 2008). Literature also illustrates that the valuation of landscape architecture in mixed-use developments is somewhat limited to rental premiums achieved through proximity to green space and connected pathways (Stewart, 2014; Laverne & Winson – Geideman, 2003; Miller, 2001). Collectively, literature review suggests a need for qualitative research on the perception of value of landscape architecture in mixed-use centers in Texas can be achieved. This research follows qualitative research methods to assess developer perceptions of the value of landscape architecture (Deming & Swaffield, 2011), in mixed-use developments/centers in Texas. The research utilizes in-depth interviews with major developers and passive observations to provide reference data of representative developer sites. The data were analyzed by drawing common themes using grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) to assess trends and developer perceptions of the value of landscape architecture in mixed-use developments/centers in Texas. In summary, the research findings provide landscape architecture professionals with insight into the investment drivers of mixed-use development/center developers in Texas. This research illustrates that divergent goals of real estate investors and landscape architecture can be bridged to achieve greater value to society when perceptions of value are understood. In particular, how landscape architects discern value of a particular site or design proposal based on its ability to meet user needs, “use value” is different from “exchange value,” a metric utilized by the investment community (Logan et al, 1987). Mixed-use developers place precedence on the concept of exchange value, a transactional or financial value, but employ investment strategies that encompass differing investment time horizons. The concept of investment horizon is important because developer perceptions of landscape architecture reflect whether developers invest in short term commodity-like developments, long term legacy-like or a combination of the two. In turn, developers maintain perceptions of landscape architecture as commodity-like, legacy-like or a combination of the two, as product. By understanding the difference between the seemingly divergent goals of the design and investment communities over the time continuum of the landscape of mixed-use developments/centers, landscape architects are positioned to “bridge the business with the city” by creating connectivity and ultimately a sense of place to users and visitors. A landscape architects ability to understand investment drivers and constraints of mixed-use developers elevates landscape architecture’s position as an advocate of design that addresses both “use” and “exchange” related goals of stakeholders, developers, governments and users. In conclusion, the study reinforces the concept that when it comes to mixed-use development, landscape architects have a critical position “at the table” as they become mediators for the public good through landscape design.


Mixed-use developments, Mixed-use centers, Landscape architecture, Urban design, Place making, Human experience


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington