Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Patricia Milligan

Mentor: Mark Foard


Title: Hello My Name is Sprawl


For my senior project, I created a pop-up book about suburbia, and the

effects of living there. After researching the structures of suburbia,

visiting Roanoke, Virginia, and observing the structures there, I

compiled my research into a book that was illustrated by pop-ups and

other images. I focused on how certain structures influence the way

people conduct their lives, as well as how their lives affect the

structures they live within. Through my book, I hoped to depict these

structures and their effects on the inhabitants of suburbia.


Popup Book

Images (photo-3.jpg, photo-4.jpg, photo-5.jpg, photo-6.jpg)

PowerPoint Presentation


In today’s world, we often depend on the automobile for every task. Since the rise of suburban sprawl in the 1950s, we have been forced to use a car for every daily activity. Residents of suburbia are unable to walk to the grocery store, work, or the dry cleaners because of the lack of sidewalks, or simply the fact that many of the sidewalks in suburbia lead nowhere but to the neighbor’s house. Collector roads remain the only way to travel from place to place, creating traffic jams, and therefore, angry drivers. It is from this adherence to the automobile, that creates residential areas, rather than communities. These patterns repeat themselves in society, forcing the residents to live the way they do.

Last spring I took these basics of these ideas and began to think of a way I could communicate them with a final product. I was reluctant to write a paper, because often those who read papers are those who are interested in the subject prior to even seeing the paper. Instead, I hoped to create a product that a reader would be able to have some interaction with. It was from this idea that my preliminary product of a magazine came from. However, I first needed to explore these structures to discover exactly how these structures influence the way we live.

Unsure of my direction, I began the summer researching sprawl and the structures within it. Throughout my readings, I found indications of how these structures make up suburban sprawl and how they influence the way we live. To supplement the reading I had done, I traveled to Roanoke, Virginia with Mr. Foard and my sister. I met with Bob Foard, who is an engineer, and the first night I arrived and discussed the direction of my project. In the following days, I toured different neighborhoods while Bob Foard pointed out each structure within a neighborhood contributed to the function of the neighborhood.

Later, I met with three of Bob Foard’s co-workers, each one lived in a different type of neighborhood. The first lived in a traditional neighborhood, the second in an apartment in the city, and the third in a house with an immense lawn outside of the city limits. I interviewed them and their families about their choices about living where they do in hopes to get a better picture of the neighborhoods. When I returned home, I continued my research through readings, and I met with my mentor in order to brainstorm about products. I soon decided that I would create a pop-up book in an effort to produce a product that would be accessible to readers.

After consulting pop-up books for techniques, I set out to create a pop-up to depict a suburban ranch house. At the same time, I was working on a layout with Julie Iden for the book. Each page has an overall description of the structure, with a pop-up of the structure. The page also includes descriptions of each aspect of the structure that makes the structure function the way it does. Eventually, I managed to create pop-ups of the structures and finalize the layout. The final steps were printing the book, assembling the pop-ups, and binding the book.

Throughout my book, I explored different structures, such as suburban ranch houses and big box stores, and was able to reveal certain patterns between structures and the lives of people within them. Although the suburbs have cookie cutter houses, rather than cookie cutter people, there are patterns within society that are affected by the structures people live within. The strongest pattern within suburban sprawl remains the use of the automobile. Collector roads force every resident of suburbia to use the automobile every day, with the average household generating thirteen car trips a day. The car also becomes a method of obtaining safety in an environment where no pedestrians can provide a watchful eye on the streets. Through my project, I was able to reveal these patterns and uncover how small aspects of a structure can affect the structure’s overall function.

Works Consulted

Alexander, Christopher, Sasa Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. Print.

Barton, Carol. The Pocket Paper Engineer: How to Make Pop-Ups Step-by-Step. Glen Echo, Maryland: Popular Kinetics, 2008. Print.

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Hayden, Dolores. A Field Guide to Sprawl. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Hayden, Dolores. Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth, 1820-2000. New York: Vintage, 2003. Print.

Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random, 1993. Print.

Kitwana, Bakari. Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. New York: Basic Civitas, 2005. Print.

Kunstler, James Howard. Home From Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century. New York: Touchstone, 1998. Print.

Kunstler, James Howard. The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape. New York: Touchstone, 1993. Print.

Radevsky, Anton, and David Sokol. Modern Architecture Pop-Up. New York: Universe, 2008. Print.

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Van Der Meer, Ron, and Deyan Sudjic. The Architecture Pack. New York: Knopf, 1997. Print.

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do. New York: Knopf, 2008. Print.

Community Member (Details)

Bob Foard – Engineer in Roanoke, Virginia