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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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Located just across I-75/85 from Georgia
Tech’s main campus in midtown Atlanta,
Centergy plaza comprises a central position
within the relatively new Tech Square
redevelopment district. Surrounded by
high-tech offices, restaurants, university
functions, and other services, the area is
heavily trafficked by a diverse population
most days. Since the recent completion
of the widened 5th Street bridge, Tech
Square has become the university’s front door, with Centergy plaza providing
the district’s largest open space apart from the fields on the bridge itself. The
plaza’s 5th street frontage supports the most use and population diversity,
with a Tech Trolley stop, a heavily used east-west sidewalk, and a number
of restarants and cafes. The plaza’s north side is predominantly populated
by office workers walking in and out of the office buildings. The future calls
for more high-tech office development in the vacant lots just north of the site
which would likely affect how the plaza functions.

INTEGRATION

EYES ON THE STREET

SITTABILITY

ORGANICNESS

MEMORABILITY

SOFT EDGES

SERIAL VISION

MAGIC

MULTIPLICITY

Metric reach = 24.5
Directional reach = 44.5

Average age = 6.8
Age Range = 2

Area per seat = 270 ft2
Seat types = 3

Controlled

“You are here” map

Extensive groves

Visually dynamic

Average edge = 3.5 layers

Avg/max visibility = 89%

CASE STUDY 2

33

URBAN 2

INTEGRATION: Located amidst midtown Atlanta’s street grid, Centergy plaza is very integrated
into the urban fabric infrastructurally. While its 1-mile metric reach is high (44.5), its directional
reach is exceptionally high relative to the rest of the city (an effect of the grid). If 5th Street did
not dead end at West Peachtree Street two blocks to the east, this value would be even higher.

ORGANICNESS: Built all at once, Tech Square is highly inorganic. The buildings around the
plaza share the same style and materials, though there is some scalar variation. Because the
plaza is entirely surrounded by structures of a common vintage, it is unlikely this place will
accrue organicness (unless part of the block is replaced or drastically changed in the future.)

A. Centergy Office Buildings, 2003
B. Global Learning Center, GT, 2003
C. GT School of Management, 2003
D. Midcity Lofts, 2002

Average building age = 6.8 years
Building age range = 2 years

SERIAL VISION: Varied shading conditions promote a diverse visual palette as one passes from
covered arcade to tree-lined bench rows to bright open plaza center. Moving to the northwest
corner, a constricting view down a staircase toward the parking deck affords a narrow vista of
Midtown towers and vacant lots - a sharp contrast to Tech Square’s mid-rise built-out persona.

34

ARCHITECTURAL 2

EYES ON THE STREET: Highly open to the street and geometrically uncomplicated, the plaza
contains no blind spots except along the northern stairs leading down to the rear driveway. If a
wider view-shed penetrated the office building along the plaza’s northern edge, the space would
become much redder relative to nearby intersections and corridors (see area map at right).

MEMORABILITY: A visually generic and uninspiring physical environment, the place must
provide a map to position itself within the city - little memorarbly stands out here. Part of an
arbitrarily detailed urban system, the map’s “you are here” marker orients the passerthrough
in relation to a prescribed collection of civic and corporate landmarks in place of a personal set.

MAGIC: Though not particularly powerful, the extensive tree plantings inspire a somewhat
magical ambience, especially on a sunny day when the open plaza is oppressively exposed
and vacant but the shady grove is pleasantly cool and well-populated. People seem unusually
pleasant and happy in this generously shrouded condition.

Visibility range = 147 - 477
Average visibility = 423
Avg/Max = 89%

35

ARCHITECTURAL 2

PERSONAL 2

SITTABILITY: Benches line the plaza’s interior and a cafes and fastfood eateries line its front
corners with tables and chairs. Overall, there is a good variety of seats, especially among the
benches, which provide various shade conditions and are thus used heavily. Office workers
mingle during cigarette breaks and students congregate while eating or waiting for the Trolley.

SOFT EDGES: The edges around Centergy Plaza are very thick and complex. The central
plaza is rung with benches, landscaping, arcades, and storefronts. Bike parking and cafes also
intersperse at places. At midday, the trees within the landscape layer generate a shade gradient
from bright at plaza center to dark along the storefronts, emphasizing the edges’ deep softness.

MULTIPLICITY: The wine bar hosts live jazz outdoors occassionally, along with periodic events
of other sorts; landscaping also educates the passerby and improves the owning corporation’s
image; a multi-modal, mixed-use tableau ensures activity variety. While the plaza often
bustles with diverse activities and uses, they are very controlled and rarely sponteneous.

1 picnic table
2 chairs/table

2 seats

11 benches
3 seats/bench

33 seats

20 cafe tables
4 chairs/table

80 seats

115 total seats
31,100 ft2

270 ft2

/seat
3 seat types

Covered walkway
Lobby entrance

2 layers

Benches
Landscape
Arcade
Storefront

4 layers

Benches
Landscape
Cafe
Storefront

4 layers

Storefront
Arcade
Bike parking
Landscape

4 layers

36

INTEGRATION

EYES ON THE STREET

SITTABILITY

ORGANICNESS

MEMORABILITY

SOFT EDGES

SERIAL VISION

MAGIC

MULTIPLICITY

CASE STUDY 3

Metric reach = 57.5
Directional reach = 19.3

Average age = 56
Age Range = 105

Area per seat = 202 ft2
Seat types = 1

Liberal

Vast waterfall wall

Cooling water’s roar

Varied views against
constant feature

Average edge = 2.5 layers

Avg/max visibility = 98%

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