Sustainable Urban Planning Alumna Wins Award

May 31, 2023

Grace SUP '22


The American Planning Association's Economic Development Division has selected the capstone of Grace Fleming MPS ‘22 as deserving honorable mention for the Holzheimer Scholarship.

Ms. Fleming, a graduate of the Sustainable Urban Planning MPS program, was recognized for her paper entitled, Adaptive Reuse: Alleviating Urban Sprawl while Building Sustainable Communities." 

Read her detailed capstone abstract

"We're extremely proud of Grace's accomplishments and are grateful to APA for recognizing her. I am also grateful to Professor Gearin for encouraging Grace to submit her work and for her mentorship."

Sandra Whitehead
Sustainable Urban Planning Program Director 


Grace Fleming's Capstone Abstract:

Across the globe, cities and suburbs alike are experiencing an increase in vacant or underutilized buildings. From office buildings to shopping malls, there are few spaces that have not been hit hard by recent shifts in trends and human behavior. While this phenomenon is not new to cities, the increasing prevalence has caused many jurisdictions to bring the issue to the forefront of planning discussions. While buildings facing obsolescence are often associated with low occupancy rates, economic instability, and inefficient energy use and water consumption, oftentimes, these buildings have not exhausted their useful life and can still offer several opportunities for their communities. Thoughtful and timely adaptive reuse of these buildings is essential to extending a building’s effective life span and can provide considerable environmental, social, and economic benefits, making it a sustainable alternative to demolition and new construction. While the conversion of a building to a new use offers many promising opportunities, application of this process can be difficult. Physical, functional, economic, social, legal, and political criteria must be evaluated to determine barriers and strategies for implementation. My capstone explored the issues associated with increased building vacancies, the opportunities adaptative reuse presents, and the important analysis procedures that need to take place to increase chances of a successful project.