Title page for ETD etd-0711102-135846


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Parekh, Trushna
URN etd-0711102-135846
Title Picnicking at Houston's Waterwall: The Public Construction of Corporate Space
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Geography and Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Miles Richardson Committee Chair
Dydia DeLyser Committee Member
Kent Mathewson Committee Member
Keywords
  • public/private
  • corporate space
  • urban landscape
  • cultural landscape
  • Houston
Date of Defense 2000-05-16
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This thesis demonstrates how private, corporate space at the Williams Tower Park in Houston’s Galleria area, (originally conceived as an office park that was closed to the public) has becomes a public place of leisure through its use. Ethnographic fieldwork conducted at the Williams Tower Park provides evidence contrary to what some scholars have heralded as the "end of public space," characterized by placeless and homogenized spaces. Instead, the corporate landscape of Houston is being culturally constructed through its unintended use by dog owners, fly fishers, wedding and quinceañera photographers, couples and families.

The analysis begins with Martin Heidegger’s notion of world that shows how humans and the world that they inhabit are mutually constitutive. Given this premise, it is argued that the people who use the park (those who inhabit it, rather than those who designed it) constitute the park as a public place of leisure. This is brought about in two ways: 1) regionalization of space – the division of the park into different regions where certain activities are conducted; 2) routinization of activities – the same activities are carried out in certain regions at certain times repeatedly, creating a time-space routine. By carrying out activities in routine spaces and times, despite the constraints of the structure that is set up by the private corporation, the agency of the users has created the place as a leisurely place rather than an office park.

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