Annie Fulton recently graduated with a B.S. in architectural studies with minors in environmental, soil and water science and geography. For her honors thesis Annie studied the redevelopment of two industrial shipping sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her research was supported by two Honors College research grants and an Honors College research travel grant. She details her experiences below.
For my senior honors thesis, I analyzed two waterfront redevelopments which were former industrial shipping sites, Piers 1 1/2, 3, and 5 in San Francisco and Jack London Square in Oakland. Transitioning former industrial sites to recreational urban waterfronts has been common in much of the United States, and by analyzing two specific sites, I was able to identify priorities and points of action in successfully creating a distinct sense of place for urban waterfronts.
The project was researched and written over 3 semesters, with the bulk of it in this final semester. Part of my data collection was through interviewing. I had difficulty contacting all of the parties that I would have liked to interview which made San Francisco have more interviews than Oakland, creating lopsided data. It did not make the two cities comparable from a methodology point of view. I had to employ more research through public documents and published speeches. It was also difficult to fully immerse myself in the two projects’ environments since I was limited in my time spent in the Bay Area. Luckily, the internet and databases have limitless resources and information.
I learned so much about writing, but even more about editing. My thesis was supposed to be 60-70 pages long. Mine ended up being 103, but that also includes numerous figures and significant citations. The most difficult task for me, as a scholarly writer, was to determine when to input my own theories, observations, or conclusions, and when to simply state the facts. I feared that making my own assertions was not credible, but I learned that I can infer as much as I like, as long as I adequately back them up with the facts.
Upon graduation, I will have a job at an architecture firm. I will be pursuing a career in sustainable development, and I will need to go to graduate school to make that possible. Writing this thesis has been extremely challenging, but rewarding. Fortunately, the funding of much of my research from the Honors College has substantially helped in my motivation and the realization of the thesis. The thesis and the grant will be beneficial for my graduate school applications. Another goal of mine is to obtain a PhD and teach at the collegiate level and this has been a great introduction to academic and grant writing, both things that will be invaluable.