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Measuring the Social Experience of Urban Spaces

Measuring the Social Experience of Urban Spaces

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Published by jeff_sauser
Final Paper - Master's of City and Regional Planning - Georgia Tech - 2010
Final Paper - Master's of City and Regional Planning - Georgia Tech - 2010

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: jeff_sauser on Jun 02, 2010
Copyright:Public Domain

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09/17/2015

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community building capacity of urban spaces.

CONVERT DESIGN STRATEGIES INTO TESTABLE METRICS AND
IMPLEMENTABLE TOOLS

To make them useful in practice, the rhetorical design strategies and
approaches gleaned from the literature review must be converted into
measurable quantities, specific observable conditions, and/or concretely
implementable tools. Each author’s contribution shall be thusly translated
into something that can be directly measured in exiting urban environments
and/or inserted therein to improve spaces’ capacity for and quality of social
interactivity and subsequent community formation and maintenance.

APPLY METRICS TO CASE STUDIES

Three local case studies will demonstrate the metrics applicability to a variety
of actual urban places. Having applied all metrics to each, the cases importantly
become comparable in terms of their capacity to foster social connectivity in
the public urban realm. Sites include the piazza in front of the High Museum in
midtown, the Centergy Plaza at Tech Square, and the northernmost portion of
Woodruff Park downtown. Though each site involves a unique set of specific
conditions and concerns, all are of comparable size and urban centrality (they
are all on or very near Peachtree Street, Atlanta’s flagship thoroughfare).

CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

Executing the case studies will reveal how the sites’ physical characteristics
affect its social and experiential performance. This exercise could inform policy
promoting similar study of new urban developments and redevelopments
during their design or redesign process to ensure designers account for their
projects’ social and experiential dimensions in addition to strictly physical
and formal concerns.

6

Decades of scholarly urban design research have yielded a number
of important treatises full of insights that can directly inform actual
urban design work. This literature review shall engage nine of the
most prominent works, parsing from their rich texts one key metric or
strategy to be measured and/or documented in the case studies. While
all of these authors potentially provide many such ideas, this paper
will attempt to distill but one readily measurable concept from each
– perhaps future work could engage additional metrics from these
authors as well as soliciting metrics from others.

The metrics are not consistent in scale or objectivity: some apply more
to the urban scale, some to the architectural, some to the personal or
bodily; some are highly quantifiable, some are directly documentable,
and some but subjectively conveyable. The authors are organized in
this literature review according to these traits, first by scale (urban,
architectural, and then personal) and then, within each scale group, by
objectivity (most objective to most subjective).

SUBJECTIVE

OBJECTIVE

URBAN

PERSONAL

ARCHITECTURAL

INTEGRATION

EYES ON THE STREET

SITTABILITY

ORGANICNESS

MEMORABILITY

SOFT EDGES

SERIAL VISION

MAGIC

MULTIPLICITY

Bill Hillier

The Social Logic of Space

1984

Jane Jacobs

The Death and Life of Great
American Cities, 1961

William Whyte

The Social Life of Small Public
Spaces, 1980

Christopher Alexander

The Social Logic of Space

1987

Kevin Lynch

The Image of the City

1960

Jan Gehl

Life Between Buildings

1980

Gordon Cullen

The Concise Townscape

1971

Allan Jacobs

Great Streets

1993

Margaret Crawford

Everyday Urbanism

1999

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