Oil vs Water

Team Members:

  • Oswald Jenewein: Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture
  • Ivonne Audirac: PhD in Urban Planning & Public Policy, Interim Director
  • Diane Jones Allen: Director of Landscape Architecture

Title: A Conflict of Settlement: Oil vs. Water

Using Community Visioning to Develop a Restorative Design Scenario for Downtown Corpus Christi

This grant proposal will investigate the conflict of oil vs. water as natural resources that have been significant to the settlement and growth along the Texas Coast.

While roughly 80 percent of the Texas coast consists of undeveloped lands, the major towns and cities relied heavily on their strategic location to produce, refine and distribute oil and natural gas. Naval air bases, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing have historically diversified the economy of the southern coast while the petrochemical industry and the export of oil and gas remain the major economic resource.

Corpus Christi is the case study for this grant proposal, as the city best demonstrates the relationship and dependencies between oil and water of American coastal cities in the Southwest. When the Anglo-American settlers developed the inland port of Corpus Christi in the 19th century, the demand for fresh water steadily increased. "The Texas Coast is a prototypical landscape of an industrial territory of geopolitical importance. Yet largely undeveloped, the Texas Coast is heavily relying on the logistical process of producing, refining and distributing oil while facing the impacts of climate change," said Visiting Assistant Professor, Oswald Jenewein.

Today, approximately 40 percent of the city’s fresh water demand is directly linked to the petrochemical industry demonstrating the direct relationship between water and oil as well as the dependencies of oil-products on fresh water.

The grant will aim to develop a future scenario balancing the conflict of oil and water while taking current projects under construction into consideration, such as the 1.1 billion dollar Harbor Bridge Development. The proposal's scenario for Corpus Christi emphasizes a sustainable development of a Post-Oil City with decreasing dependency on oil while highlighting the impact and relationships between oil and water in human settlements. The term Post-Oil is used to describe the transition away from fossil fuels as a major economic resource for the city.

A CAPPA graduate design studio beginning Fall 2019 will be taught by all team members as an interdisciplinary class to work on projects related to the grant. "This project is a fantastic opportunity for students to work interdisciplinary with architects, landscape architects and urban planners, while also traveling to Corpus Christi to work with local experts and the community," said Jenewein.

This team of architects, landscape architects and urban planners will investigate how the conflict of resources affects the natural, built and cultural environment.