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MEASURING THE SOCIAL EXPERIENCE OF URBAN SPACES
Introduction and Methodology Literature Review 4 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28 32 36 40 41 47 48 6 8
INTEGRATION Bill Hillier, The Social Logic of Space, 1984
ORGANICNESS Christopher Alexander, A New Theory of Urban Design, 1987 SERIAL VISION Gordon Cullen, The Concise Townscape, 1961 MEMORABILITY Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, 1960 MAGIC Allan Jacobs, Great Streets, 1993 SOFT EDGES Jan Gehl, Life Between Buildings, 1980 High Museum Piazza Centergy Plaza Woodruff Park Summary
EYES ON THE STREET Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 1961 SITTABILITY William Whyte, The Social Life of Small Public Spaces, 1980 Case Studies MULTIPLICITY Margaret Crawford, Everyday Urbanism, 1999
Policy Implications Bibliography Image Credits
INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY
Contemporary (and historical) urban design lacks an incrementalist sensitivity that has seen many a socially and culturally troubled but infrastructurally promising (and known-quantity) district plowed over by freshly flawed polemical expressions whose problems (rather than qualities) emerge over lifetimes of decreasingly mysterious failure and increasingly mounting regret. There is serious need for strategies that can quantitatively assess and incrementally improve socially inept districts without preemptive architectural decimation. This paper will extract from 50 years of literature a set of concrete urban qualities that are discursively proven and practically measurable to provide the profession a method for piecemeal urban improvement. After applying the set of measures to three case studies, it should become clear that many issues of urban social decline could be assuaged with modest architectural interventions rather than all-out urban renewal. PROBLEM: NEED INCREMENTAL STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE URBAN SOCIAL INTERACTIVITY
Quality urban spaces and districts foster social interaction that generates and sustains meaningful community. The most such successful urbanities emerge over long periods of time, experiencing series of revision and improvement that refine them into rich environments replete with social activity and, thus, healthy communities. It seems, therefore, that if a place lacks or loses infrastructure to accommodate community-building socialization, it should be injected or replaced in bits and pieces as the present inhabitants and users can absorb and inhabit it. Unfortunately, many new urban design projects neglect the notion of incremental development in their vision for the future. Instead of simply medicated, the troubled past is erased – along with all of its potential and uniqueness – and replaced with something untried, untrue, and likely to fail or at least severely stumble for lack of historical authenticity and local conditioning. EXTRACT DESIGN STRATEGIES FROM THE LITERATURE Over the past 50 years, numerous scholars and visionaries have put forth strong arguments for incremental development and an appreciation for accumulated complexity. In many cases, these authors pen entire methodologies not short of manifestos that, in great detail, proffer design approaches to improve the social character and capacity of urban places. Other, less architecturally prescriptive authors supply perspectives that can easily be translated into specific design strategies. This paper shall extract one key tool from each author’s magnum opus to assemble a kit of critically seasoned incrementalist approaches to measuring and improving the socially interactive and, thus,
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.
Decades of scholarly urban design research have yielded a number of important treatises full of insights that can directly inform actual urban design work. The authors are organized in this literature review according to these traits. architectural. 1980 SITTABILITY OBJECTIVE Jan Gehl Life Between Buildings 1980 SOFT EDGES Margaret Crawford Everyday Urbanism 1999 MULTIPLICITY SUBJECTIVE . some to the personal or bodily. The metrics are not consistent in scale or objectivity: some apply more to the urban scale. Bill Hillier The Social Logic of Space 1984 Christopher Alexander The Social Logic of Space 1987 Gordon Cullen The Concise Townscape 1971 LITERATURE REVIEW ARCHITECTURAL URBAN INTEGRATION ORGANICNESS SERIAL VISION EYES ON THE STREET Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities. 1961 MEMORABILITY Kevin Lynch The Image of the City 1960 Allan Jacobs Great Streets 1993 MAGIC PERSONAL 6 William Whyte The Social Life of Small Public Spaces. some to the architectural. While all of these authors potentially provide many such ideas. some are directly documentable. by objectivity (most objective to most subjective). first by scale (urban. and then personal) and then. some are highly quantifiable. and some but subjectively conveyable. This literature review shall engage nine of the most prominent works. within each scale group. 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. parsing from their rich texts one key metric or strategy to be measured and/or documented in the case studies.
unforeseen uses and spontaneous activities to ensure a place engenders diverse socialization and supports democratic freedom. At the personal scale. Jan Gehl calls for roughly countable layers along sites’ edges that contain interactive people and provide shades of transparency and social interest. Margaret Crawford advocates the accommodation of various. Allan Jacobs seeks the presence of magic about a site. William Whyte suggests a practical census of seats and seating types within a site to make sure there are enough sitting opportunities of sufficient variety for passers through. Jane Jacobs indicates a need to gauge a site’s internal visibility spectrum to make sure users feel safely observable from more angles and less likely to feel vulnerably screened or isolated. At the architectural scale. a highly subjective feature that cannot be measured but should be considered and possibly embedded in a project. Christopher Alexander informs a simple survey of surrounding structures’ vintage to help enrich the perception of historical context. The proceeding pages elaborate on these authors’ insights and elucidate how their work translates into variably measurable metrics to be exercised in the case studies that follow. Gordon Cullen offers a way to document the visual and spatial experience of approaching and moving through an urban space to help choreograph a dramatic procession. Bill Hillier provides an entirely quantifiable measure of integration to explain a site’s position and level of connection (both infrastructural and symbolic) within the overall urban network. 7 .At the urban scale. Kevin Lynch explains the importance of memorable structures or formations that help viscerally position a place within an urban network of landmarks.
it becomes more embedded within the overall urban structure than other. As more urbanites use the path and build on it. less significant streets in town. One way to transfer this insight into the study of contemporary urban design involves Hillier’s concept of “integration. it gains cultural and social significance. The more integrated streets should be considered more important culturally and socially. It is no coincidence that Peachtree Street is simultaneously Atlanta’s most important and most connective (aka integrated) street: as it accrued cultural significance it was physical grafted onto with a higher intensity than other. differences in the ways in which members of those societies live out and reproduce their social existence. less significant paths. As it gains such significance. cities are consequences of their society’s social structure and. Much of Hillier’s work has surrounded quantifying aspects of integration so different cities can be compared in similar terms (thereby comparing social and cultural formations via spatially organizing constructs). Beyond that. likewise. “Society must be described in terms of its intrinsic spatiality. who writes. In this case. 8 Bill Hillier. a society’s social structure is preserved and propagated through its spatial organization. 1984 INTEGRATION . understanding a society’s culture helps clarify its architecture and urbanity.” Less consequences of technology or environmental context.Societal organization and urban spatial organization are inextricably linked according to Bill Hillier.” He describes the emergence of main thoroughfares in unplanned cities as an accumulation of social importance along a certain path. In short. space must be described in terms of its intrinsic sociality. places of exceedingly low integration could be considered of exceedingly low social and cultural import. Hillier believes that we can understand a society’s culture simply by examining the way they order their built environment. social structure is embedded in architectural and urban structure. In turn. that is. integration also implies accessibility and connectivity. By the nature of its measurement. The Social Logic of Space. And. integration will be measured using a GIS application. Areas of high integration are highly accessible and highly connected to other parts of the city. in return. we can compare social and cultural formations from different societies by comparing the way they order space: “spatial order is one of the most striking means by which we recognize the existence of the cultural differences between one social formation and another. thereby becoming more integrated than most other streets around it. suggesting that structures and activities located along and near them are of high cultural and social significance.” He suggests that architectural and urban organization (not style but order) might be one of a culture’s most powerful self-expressions.
Alexander suggests there is a strong correlation between intensity of wholeness and historical development incrementality. under their own laws of wholeness. they must correspond to the existing orders of wholeness to avoid corrupting it.” A place that develops in small pieces over time is more likely to support a structural relationship between those pieces.Part of a city’s social richness involves how it physically develops.” As new urban pieces emerge. the more wholeness likely pervades. “ “The condition of wholeness is always produced by the same. welldefined process. 1987 ORGANICNESS 10 . A place that develops in larger pieces over shorter periods of time. Christopher Alexander.” Places of high organicness “grow as a whole. They must also contribute a new and enriching expression of the wholeness to avoid diluting it.” It works with existing structural conditions and adds new but historically coherent complexity. peculiar structural nature of its past. but in every detail. Thus. and details into a coherent gestalt. Built constituents deeply correlate across the landscape and through history. Like a written language. “The task of creating wholeness can only be dealt with as a process. the orders of wholeness provide a common structural framework that accommodates substantial diversity so all pieces can be personally expressive but limits difference to the bounds of linguistic comprehension so no piece destabilizes the system.” Places of low organicness are built in big chunks according to discontinuous rules that logically distinguish them and prevent an incorporating “wholeness”. Quality “new growth emerges from the specific. The more piecemeal the place has emerged. A New Theory of Urban Design. rendering them moot. streets. which works incrementally. older pieces relating to new pieces through a shared embracement of the particular orders of wholeness which bind the city into an environment that makes sense on all levels. assessing a place’s degree of wholeness is as simple as measuring how incrementally it has developed. is less likely to exhibit orders of wholeness because it has steeped less in the existent conditions and overwhelms them in scale anyway.” or its “specific structural quality. not only at the largest scale. True wholeness pervades at all scales. on the other hand. facades. Christopher Alexander calls a city’s perceivable development process its “organicness. Each emerges in the context of its predecessors and so is more inclined to adhere to their existent ordering principles. ordering plats.
The Concise Townscape. enabling an assessment of individual dramatic potential. Emotionally. advertisements.” Documenting the city’s scenes becomes storyboarding its drama. Gordon Cullen calls this “drama. water. “Although from a scientific or commercial point of view the town may be a unity. Combining a view-based series of dramatic events with the social interactivity of added people compounds the city’s capacity to engage its users and cause them to engage each other. Images are made at the threshold of each new view. The process of manipulation has begun to turn the blind facts into a taut emotional situation. “There is an art of relationship just as there is an art of architecture. nature. then we are finding a tool with which human imagination can begin to mold the city into a coherent drama.” an enlivening gestalt that makes the city both interesting and enriching. For a city is a dramatic event in the environment. The city becomes a continuous chain of dramatic moments leading from one view to the next. on the other hand. 1961 SERIAL VISION . traffic. Suppose. A steady diversity between spaces ensures a dynamic experience with more surprises to heighten emotional feedback. For the drama to fully develop. Cullen’s tool to measure a city’s dramatic effect involves measuring a traveler’s “serial vision” as he/she passes through it. and to weave them together in such a way that drama is released.Spatially. Each new view upon rounded bend elicits another emotional event that thickens the plot established by the previous tableaus provided by the city and experienced by the traveler. In the normal way this is an accidental chain of events and whatever significance may arise out of the linking of views will be fortuitous. trees. Its purpose is to take all the elements that go to create the environment: buildings. Perceivable relationship amongst spaces binds the series of emotional moments into a manifold experience far richer than if they were simply isolated incidents with no interactive bearing. however. we have split it into two elements: the existing view and the emerging view. serially traversable spaces. and so on. Individual spaces and structures seeking users should engage with and relate to the overarching plotline and contribute special “dramatic events” of their own to enhance not only their own but the city’s overall experience. The more emotionally visceral a city’s traversal experience. a city could be considered an environment of distinct. that we take over this linking as a branch of the art of relationship. the more people will indulge the drama. 12 Gordon Cullen. the city’s procession of spaces needs to be both diverse and related. Chronologically juxtaposing the images enables an assessment of the overall experience’s dramatic coherence.” A city’s dramatic potential can be equated with its potential to attract more players to its stage. from our optical viewpoint. the city’s spaces are viscerally strung together by a traveler’s specific experience of them as they unfold before and around him/her.
bringing the plan to life. reading from left to right. at a uniform pace.” 13 . will provide a sequence of revelations which are suggested in the serial drawings. Each arrow on the plan represents a drawing. The even progress of travel is illuminated by a series of sudden contrasts and so an impact is made on the eye.“Serial vision: to walk from one end of the plan to another.
14 Jane Jacobs. the better urban space provides more universal visibility from more vantages within and along its boundaries. Areas thusly coded red are directly visible from more positions across the whole space. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers. Additionally. “Eyes upon the street” is perhaps the most famous (and architecturally measurable) of these related concerns. “eyes upon the street” to surveil goings on. it stands a better chance of honest. old hats and new arrivals. Jacobs calls for the buildings to orient themselves towards the street so their occupants are architecturally compelled to observe the outdoors and thereby keep an eye on what’s happening: “There must be eyes upon the street. eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. A comprehensively visible public space potentiates a comprehensively utilized public space (as William Whyte writes. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind. the issue doesn’t stop at safety. areas coded blue are largely invisible from other vantages across the space. when faced with such a task. less visible regions and is more uniformly brightly colored and highly visible. The space syntax team originating at University College London provides a powerful tool to evaluate this “eyes on the street” capacity. the more effort one must expend to simply fathom the space before s/he can even decide if s/he wants to stay. The more hidden corners and enshrouded edges. Public urban spaces should promote and support natural surveillance by avoiding visual obfuscations and hiding articulations that create blind spots pedestrians might fear passing. If the space can be entirely ascertained and evaluated from its edges. A space is said to have high “eyes on the street capacity” if it sports few darkly colored.” Ultimately. More often than not. There are certain morphological characteristics necessary to accommodate that much sociological diversity without engendering disorder. must be oriented to the street. and enough passersby and other street users to keep things safely active (as opposed to forebodingly lonely). calculates isovists (the area of viewable territory from a given point in a built environment) across a grid cast throughout the space and then graphically indicates which regions of the space provide more view (or larger isovists) relative to all others. lingerers and passersby. Jane Jacobs suggests these include a clearly defined public domain (as obviously distinct from a clearly defined private domain). The Death and Life of Great American Cities. people don’t go places they don’t know are there). Depthmap. earnest use (as opposed to a space of ambiguous extents which might be avoided altogether for fear of its hidden mysteries).Good city streets support a heterogeneous population of locals and strangers. 1961 EYES ON THE STREET . By this measure. the passerby passes by. their flagship utility.
uncommonly huge sites). The degree to which a site achieves landmark (memorable in and of itself) or edge (memorable as the articulated introduction to. or otherwise boundary to something coherently notable [the site’s own boundary about itself could achieve edge status by this definition]) could be called its “memorability. on the other hand. Edges and landmarks.” The more the place (or element[s] within or about it) stick in the memory. Importantly for this study. the more prominently it can elevate in relation to the city’s other landmarks (most directly) and edges (less directly). Districts are urban zones that effectively cohere behind a common character of some sort be it visual (such as distinguishable from the rest of the city by a common architectural style) or structural (such as a swatch of uniform grid within a more haphazard overall city plat). these three categories might help locate sites within a city but they are rarely malleable from an isolated site. Nodes are typically either important path intersections or other significant urban centralities. edge. district. Kevin Lynch provides five categories (path.To promote navigability and socio-cultural connectivity. Paths. Edges demarcate boundaries between two things or places or at least two types of things or types of places. conclusion of. The Image of the City. node (because being a node is contingent on occupying a significant location relative to a broader network). without macro influence. node. and districts are spatial urban components that primarily operate in a part-to-whole relationship with each other and the overall structure of the city. establish or substantially adjust a path (because they run well before and beyond a site’s extents). he or she can attempt to create a landmark or edge that memorably defines his or her site. or district (because districts tend to define themselves as collections of related sites – unless they are single. bounded project site (or study area). While the designer cannot. the only way to significantly adjust them is to manipulate the whole system at a macro scale well beyond the range of a typical. a city needs to be visually and structurally legible. Because they operate in networked concert. nodes. 16 Kevin Lynch. can be contained within a single site and still openly participate in the city’s broader concert of edges and landmarks. landmark) into which most urban elements can be sorted to measure a city’s memorability (visually based) and intelligibility (structurally based). two metrics which combine to determine its overall legibility. Paths describe routes and thoroughfares that connect important parts of the city. 1960 MEMORABILITY . Landmarks are memorable articulations in the urban fabric that episodically contribute to an individual’s mental conception of the city. Measurable components of memorability include contextual distinctiveness (how much does it stand out from or define its surroundings?) and visual or experiential exceptionality (how remarkable does it look or feel?).
PLACEHOLDER IMAGE PLACEHOLDER IMAGE 17 .
imagination and inspiration are involved. and may be the most crucial ingredients.” He goes on to discuss great urban spaces’ impact on a social public: “beyond functional purposes of permitting people to get from one place to another and to gain access to property. Though Jacobs speaks in terms of streets. Sorcery and charm. To whatever extent possible. Tabla rasa strategies dominated the city beautiful movement to a moderate extent and the modernist movement to the extreme. not bulldozing and rebuilding on top of it. his core idea is readily transferrable: through their incrementally layered complexity.” He stresses a need to stoke desire for urban life that can only be achieved by preserving. Put perhaps over-simply. an effect he calls “magic”. of encountering people in healthy environments. streets – most assuredly the best streets – can and should help to do other things: bring people together. and presumably in their making. it might be practically defined as what experientially and/or socially emerges from a great space in addition to comfort. Allan Jacobs retrospectively protests: “better models than these were in order: ones not so dependent on central power and ownership and design. the space is more than simply well-designed: it is magical. 1993 MAGIC . transcendental cues and triggers shall be documented and speculatively analyzed. “There is magic on great streets. Great Streets. Christopher Alexander has already provided a measure for incremental development and the conservation of physical history so Jacobs shall contribute a more difficult but arguably more important measure: the magnitude of “magic” in an urban space. However ultimately utopian Jacobs’ notion may sometimes seem. incrementing. good places elevate people on both personal and social levels. to achieve together what they might not alone. ones that were based on not only an acceptance but also a desire for and love of urban life. it elicits a magically transcendent experience. desirable things that contribute to them. A highly subjective metric. ones that saw incremental physical change and conservation as more desirable than massive clearance of what existed.” Not only can the space cause one to transcend his or her personal banalities. If transcendence accompanies utility. help build community. and it is more than having a few or many of the physical. 18 Allan Jacobs. and layering within the city. his rhetoric seems to generally accommodate other types of public urban spaces too.Previous eras in urban design history saw preponderances of heavyhanded approaches to the production of quality public urban spaces. cause people to act and interact. It is more than putting all of the required qualities on a street. it seems capable of transporting the collective citizenry into a mood of communal brotherhood. He contends that a great street (or public urban space) does more than just comfortably transmit passers-through. designers thought the best way to improve a place was to gut it or wipe it clean altogether and then start over from scratch.
and variety of sitting places. seat types need to vary across the site to provide for the public’s varied wants and needs. two people. movable/adjustable) and public exposure (along thoroughfare. Because each space is unique. tucked out of the way). and observe the seating ensemble’s actual usage to determine overall interactivity-fostering success. urbanistically characterizing and dimensionally inventorying available seats and. generalized rules of thumb alone cannot fully predict particular sittability and associated interactivity – locally specific factors also hold a strong hand. aesthetics (shape. an urban space needs the physical infrastructure necessary to accommodate actors in the first place. Variables include size (big enough for one person.To foster social interactivity. observing and documenting how people use the seats and how the seats facilitate social interactivity. Put simply: an urban space cannot become sociable if it doesn’t have the facilities about which to socialize – people won’t sit and talk to each other if there’s nowhere to sit! Informed by a career of first-hand observation and measurement. In sum. accessibility. material). the seats must not only be in view but also in reach of potential sitters: less accessible facilities find themselves less used. Whyte offers a few dimensional and mathematical rules of thumb to assess sittability amongst seats. measure the dimensional suitability of each seat.” Obviously. 20 William Whyte. In addition to compiling the above quantifications. they will not use it. It is most immediately important that sitting places be visible to passersby. Accessibility also involves the percieved (and actual) publicness of the sitting place . first. Double-sided seats should be a full “two backsides deep” to ensure both sides are simultaneously usable. seat-type heterogeneity supports more diverse breeds of seated socialization. Quantifiably. The Social Life of Small Public Spaces. assessing a place’s sittability involves. “if people do not see a space. There should be about one linear foot of sitting space per thirty square feet of plaza area. 1980 SITTABILITY . seat plenitude ensures everyone who wants to sit and socialize can.the more private a surface seems (or is). style. bigger group). People tend to avoid seats shorter than one foot or taller than three. the space should be observed to ascertain exactly how the public actually uses its seats. second. Finally. As Whyte writes. functionality (static. the less welcoming it effectively becomes. There are three phases to Whyte’s process: assess the visibility. William Whyte developed strategies for evaluating and improving such interactivityenabling infrastructure. windy/calm). climate (sun/shade.
). single-story. leading to a desirably active and rich urban environment and society. etc. These are spaces that flank and/or permeate buildings where people can settle.” “Soft edges” are what really foster public-realm occupation and interaction.Ultimately. and the entirely public street) but contends the concept holds true across urban topologies: “everywhere people walk to and from city functions. “Of course it is important that conditions for walking to and from buildings are good and comfortable. more stimulating.” Extant soft edges shall be documented and then evaluated according to their frequency (hard edge to soft edge ratio). work. but for the scope and character of life between buildings. Gehl would have the designer take steps to avoid precluding it.” He demonstrates this connection with dense. and social value of an urban environment – merely that quality urban life trumps quality urban infrastructure amongst a sensitive designer’s priorities.” That is not to say architecture cannot contribute to the experiential. “Inevitably. Of course. depth (degree to which inside and outside connect/merge). the semi-public porch and yard. which are more frequent but fleeting in duration). and more rewarding than any combination of architectural ideas. Life Between Buildings. 1980 SOFT EDGES . or where the functions stay outdoors. vitality (observed activation). His concept of “soft edges” involves providing certain architectural layers and complexities that enable certain types of activities. the conditions offered for long-lasting outdoor activities play the decisive role. Ideally. Gehl writes. there is a relationship between good design and good urban life – in America. he stresses designing to promote stationary activities that are more prolonged and entrench people deeper into the urban setting (in contrast to coming and going activities. the establishment of good connections between indoors and outdoors combined with good resting places in front of the buildings must be a matter of course. To ensure an urban space retains the capacity for quality urbanism. cultural. and flexibility (range of stationary activities and their relationship to adjacent/integrated coming-and-going activities). soft edges “link indoors and outdoors – functionally and psychologically. physical amenities. 22 Jan Gehl. “life between buildings is richer. and otherwise sit and meld into the urban place. Specifically. single-family housing examples (namely by a lucid sociological link between the shrouded innards of the house. urban design is more about the dynamic activities occurring within the public realm that it is about the built quality of the space (buildings. this is most commonly demonstrated negatively. such as when bad design engenders bad urbanism (by squandering the potential for good urban life). eat.” writes Jan Gehl.
and domestic. the urban environment’s physical and spatial elements might be discretely and singularly classifiable: each individual element has a sole purpose and a sole use.From a designer’s standpoint. they become venues for the expression of new meanings through the individuals and groups who appropriate the spaces for their own purposes. commercial. the very meaning of the space shifts and multiplies as more people interpret it. protesters. performers. homeless people. Ambiguous and unstable. they blur our established understandings of these categories in often-paradoxical ways. They contain multiple and constantly shifting meanings rather than clarity of function. The evaluation will consider the following questions: how heterogeneous is the built environment? How well does or might it support activities it wasn’t specifically designed for? How heterogeneous is the user population? How drastically does the population compositionally shift throughout the day. its relationship to the people of that real realm constantly changes and contradicts. spaces that support multiplicity are likely socially healthier than spaces that inhibit. however. these spaces can be shaped and redefined by the transitory activities they accommodate. and so on seemingly ad infinitum. aesthetic. inhabit it. through observation and speculation. Once the urban element leaves the drawing board and enters the public realm. the true nature of a space is defined by the people that inhabit it and the activities they incite.” Not only does use and activity change in a space overtime. week. they acquire constantly changing meanings – social. 1999 MULTIPLICITY . Indeed. such as when street vendors and yard sale proprietors set up shop in spaces not designed for or anticipating such activity. Apparently empty of meaning. She nicely describes the phenomenon: “these spaces exist physically somewhere in the junctures between private. political. or condemned? Ultimately. Observing things in reality over time. This study shall. animals. tolerated. In the absence of a distinct identity of their own. Multiplicity can describe a far broader set of phenomena incited by actors as varied as skateboarders. or year? How public is the space (as opposed to controlled and/or private)? Is spontaneity or deviation from the norm (if there is a prescribed or officially programmed norm) encouraged. and the space’s relationship to the rest of the city. subjectively interpret a given space’s potential for multiplicity. Unrestricted by the dictates of built form. Everyday Urbanism. 24 Margaret Crawford. their relationship to the space. one quickly understands Margaret Crawford’s contention that most urban spaces exhibit “multiplicity of simultaneous public activities […] that are continually redefining both ‘public’ and ‘space’ through lived experience. economic – as users reorganize and reinterpret them. Many of Crawford’s examples of multiplicity involve informal commerce. and populate it according to their personal perceptions and understandings of themselves. joggers.
PLACEHOLDER IMAGE PLACEHOLDER IMAGE 25 .
Located within a few blocks of Peachtree Street. surrounded by the region’s most significant skyscrapers and filled with representatives from its top and bottom socioeconomic classes. Woodruff Park sits in the city’s physical and symbolic heart. INTEGRATION Metric reach Directional reach ORGANICNESS Average age Age Range SERIAL VISION Qualitative Assessment EYES ON THE STREET Visibility MEMORABILITY Key feature MAGIC Qualitative Assessment SITTABILITY Area per seat # Seat types SOFT EDGES Depth MULTIPLICITY Qualitative Assessment 26 . All three are smaller than a block and immediately bordered on at least one side by building facades. The High Museum plaza is unique in that it does not directly front a street and its surrounding institutions largely determine its activity. they are all centrally and importantly located with the potential heavy usage. Centergy Plaza exists at the mixeduse threshold between Georgia Tech and the rest of the city but does not itself contain any particularly important civic or cultural institutions or landmarks. three case studies will now test the resultant metrics’ measurability and applicability to the design and evaluation of existing urban sites. CASE STUDIES The three sites are similar in many ways to maintain comparability but different in enough ways to ensure different results for each.The literature review having digested the nine authors and translated their work into singular concepts.
Soft edges involves roughly counting the occupiable layers between street or plaza and building interior (or wall face). eyes on the street is quantified by space syntax Depthmap software (areas of red are visible from the most points on the plan. At the architectural scale. the case studies’ metrics are organized by scale (urban to personal) on the first order and objectivity (most to least) on the second. This paper’s subsequent and final section considers how this work might inform policy. sittability is quantified by counting the seats and calculating how many square feet the site contains per seat provided. integration is quantified by space syntax GIS software (red lines indicate the most integrated streets and street segments. The following case studies demonstrate how these metrics might be measured and/or observed. Memorability involves representing the site’s most distinctive and place-orienting feature. Multiplicity involves reporting observed or speculated spontaneity and documenting the spatial features that enabled and/or accommodated it. Serial vision is represented by a series of views from a path mapped on the site plan. 27 . dark blue lines are the least).Like the literature review. areas of blue are visible from the least [relatively]). At the personal scale. Measuring organicness involves mapping the sites’ neighboring buildings and coloring them according to their age (light grays indicate younger buildings. At the urban scale. Magic is represented by photo details supporting a subjective account. darker grays indicate older).
a few blocks east of I-75/85. Part of a recent addition to the Woodruff Arts complex. an art college. and an outdoor cafe. a theater. In addition to the museum. the complex includes symphony hall. or performers in and about its bounds. but people also pass through and congregate in conjunction with visits to the other adjacent institutions. the plaza in front of the High Museum of Art’s newest annex sits in the middle of Atlanta’s premier cultural campus. the plaza sometimes supports banners. CASE STUDY 1 Metric reach = 33. a bar. Often dressed to advertise or celebrate current exhibitions. adjacent to Peachtree Street (the city’s flagship thorougfare). The plaza is most populated when new exhibits open at the museum. the site is well served by transit. sculptures. and surrounded by highrise office buildings and condos.25 INTEGRATION ORGANICNESS Average age = 21 Age Range = 34 SERIAL VISION Spatially dynamic EYES ON THE STREET Avg/max visibility = 75% Public art installation(s) MEMORABILITY Transparency MAGIC Area per seat = 442 ft2 Seat types = 2 SITTABILITY Average edge = 2 layers SOFT EDGES MULTIPLICITY Scant 28 .HIGH MUSEUM PIAZZA Located within the northern half of the city’s midtown neighorhood.8 Directional reach = 2.
1983 C. the space extends across grass. Symphony Hall. ivy-lined stair corridor. The 1-mile metric reach of its bounding streets (left) is very high (33. 1968 B. terminating at Peachtree Street. the plaza enjoys moderate organicness by virtue of the institutions’ relatively longstanding history in this place. 29 . potentially imparing actual integration values. High Museum. buildings.25).8 miles) but. Over the years. along the Meier wing’s blocky facade. Table 1280. often of architectural notoriety. The stair’s space is constricted but ends facing the glassy cafe and opens into the exposed plaza. have been added to the campus in an increasingly varied assembly of structures and styles. 2002 Average building age = 21 years Building age range = 34 years SERIAL VISION: Especially when entering via the narrow. directional reach (right) is low (2. like much of the city. URBAN 1 ORGANICNESS: Though surrounded by a single institution (or family of institutions). Note: this plaza is blocked from street view by museum buildings. and past diverse sculptures. this plaza’s serial experience is very spatially dynamic. High Addition. A.INTEGRATION: The plaza resides in a dense urban district of high integration (relative to the rest of the city). From there. 2002 D.
creating a feeling of containment. This Lichenstein house a permanent installation and probably most vividly characterizes the space. the plaza is geometrically quite rectilinear and without significant blind spots. The effect is masked by reflective glare from the plaza’s center. ARCHITECTURAL 1 MEMORABILITY: The architecture surrounding the plaza is monochromatic and formally subdued. Occassionally the plaza contains other works that temporarily distinguish its experience. juxtaposing art and skyline.EYES ON THE STREET: Though hardly visible from the street (especially because of intervening topography not captured by the map on the right). giving memorable attention over to the artworks displayed on the grounds within. once inside the plaza itself. Visibility range = 23 . 30 . visibility levels are moderately high. With the exception of some corners and corridors.563 Average visibility = 425 Avg/Max = 75% MAGIC: The plaza’s most poignant sense of magic comes from the new museum’s almost totally transparent first floor along the plaza’s west and north edges. But approaching the facade reveals uncannily clear views across the museum floor and to the city beyond.
The plaza tables are grouped under trees but can be rearranged more freely. entry queues. Overall. the plaza’s edges would be quite hard.they are for restaurant patrons only. activity in the museum lobby is only varies from normal docility when exhibits first open or during private events.SITTABILITY: All seats in the plaza are chairs around tables (4 chairs around each table). covered walkways. clearly visible from the plaza. The cafe tables are set with silverware and roped off from the rest of the plaza . the plaza does not foster much usage multiplicity. The only other softening elements include seating areas. the plaza often hosts temporary art installations and outdoor events. Cafe seating Walkway Storefront 3 layers Covered walkway Storefront 2 layers Queue Entry 2 layers Storefront 1 layer 31 . The plaza’s adjacent lawn provides the only other potential sitting option.900 ft2 442 ft2/seat 2 seat types PERSONAL 1 SOFT EDGES: If not for its generously glazed groundfloor walls and externally visible internal exhibits (plus the western view through the building to the city beyond). 13 cafe tables 4 chairs/table 52 seats 9 plaza tables 4 chairs/table 36 seats MULTIPLICITY: School groups appropriate an otherwise relatively unused lawn. and spare. 88 total seats 38.
Tech Square has become the university’s front door. university functions.5 INTEGRATION ORGANICNESS Average age = 6. and a number of restarants and cafes.CENTERGY PLAZA Located just across I-75/85 from Georgia Tech’s main campus in midtown Atlanta. The plaza’s north side is predominantly populated by office workers walking in and out of the office buildings.8 Age Range = 2 SERIAL VISION Visually dynamic EYES ON THE STREET Avg/max visibility = 89% MEMORABILITY “You are here” map Extensive groves MAGIC Area per seat = 270 ft2 Seat types = 3 SITTABILITY Average edge = 3.5 Directional reach = 44. Surrounded by high-tech offices. The plaza’s 5th street frontage supports the most use and population diversity. CASE STUDY 2 Metric reach = 24. a heavily used east-west sidewalk. and other services. the area is heavily trafficked by a diverse population most days. Centergy plaza comprises a central position within the relatively new Tech Square redevelopment district. with a Tech Trolley stop. restaurants.5 layers SOFT EDGES MULTIPLICITY Controlled 32 . 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. with Centergy plaza providing the district’s largest open space apart from the fields on the bridge itself. Since the recent completion of the widened 5th Street bridge.
URBAN 2 ORGANICNESS: Built all at once. GT.INTEGRATION: Located amidst midtown Atlanta’s street grid. 2003 B. GT School of Management. While its 1-mile metric reach is high (44. its directional reach is exceptionally high relative to the rest of the city (an effect of the grid). Moving to the northwest corner. Global Learning Center.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. 2002 Average building age = 6. Tech Square is highly inorganic. Centergy plaza is very integrated into the urban fabric infrastructurally. it is unlikely this place will accrue organicness (unless part of the block is replaced or drastically changed in the future. Because the plaza is entirely surrounded by structures of a common vintage. The buildings around the plaza share the same style and materials. this value would be even higher. If 5th Street did not dead end at West Peachtree Street two blocks to the east. 2003 C. a constricting view down a staircase toward the parking deck affords a narrow vista of Midtown towers and vacant lots . 2003 D.5).a sharp contrast to Tech Square’s mid-rise built-out persona.) A. though there is some scalar variation. 33 . Midcity Lofts. Centergy Office Buildings.
the extensive tree plantings inspire a somewhat magical ambience.little memorarbly stands out here. the space would become much redder relative to nearby intersections and corridors (see area map at right). ARCHITECTURAL 2 MEMORABILITY: A visually generic and uninspiring physical environment. People seem unusually pleasant and happy in this generously shrouded condition. especially on a sunny day when the open plaza is oppressively exposed and vacant but the shady grove is pleasantly cool and well-populated. 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. Part of an arbitrarily detailed urban system.EYES ON THE STREET: Highly open to the street and geometrically uncomplicated. the place must provide a map to position itself within the city . If a wider view-shed penetrated the office building along the plaza’s northern edge. Visibility range = 147 .477 Average visibility = 423 Avg/Max = 89% MAGIC: Though not particularly powerful. the plaza contains no blind spots except along the northern stairs leading down to the rear driveway. 34 .
1 picnic table 2 chairs/table 2 seats 11 benches 3 seats/bench 33 seats 20 cafe tables 4 chairs/table 80 seats MULTIPLICITY: The wine bar hosts live jazz outdoors occassionally. along with periodic events of other sorts. and storefronts. arcades. Overall. Office workers mingle during cigarette breaks and students congregate while eating or waiting for the Trolley. landscaping also educates the passerby and improves the owning corporation’s image. Bike parking and cafes also intersperse at places. the trees within the landscape layer generate a shade gradient from bright at plaza center to dark along the storefronts.100 ft2 270 ft2/seat 3 seat types PERSONAL 2 SOFT EDGES: The edges around Centergy Plaza are very thick and complex. mixed-use tableau ensures activity variety. The central plaza is rung with benches. emphasizing the edges’ deep softness.SITTABILITY: Benches line the plaza’s interior and a cafes and fastfood eateries line its front corners with tables and chairs. a multi-modal. At midday. they are very controlled and rarely sponteneous. 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 35 . While the plaza often bustles with diverse activities and uses. 115 total seats 31. landscaping. especially among the benches. there is a good variety of seats. which provide various shade conditions and are thus used heavily.
or sleeping homeless person.5 layers SOFT EDGES MULTIPLICITY Liberal 36 . including major hotels. resting pedestrians. street vendors. save a wandering tourist. tourists. tourist venues. This particular stretch of Peachtree Street is one of the corridor’s most active and dynamic. and congregating homeless people.WOODRUFF PARK Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. the park is full of lunching office workers. At night the park is all but empty. this northern portion of Woodruff Park is surrounded by some of the city’s most important corporate offices and historic architecture. CASE STUDY 3 Metric reach = 57. During the day. passing police officer. A long waterfall wall flanks the park’s east side and a shady grid of trees and benches fills most of its north half.3 INTEGRATION ORGANICNESS Average age = 56 Age Range = 105 Varied views against constant feature SERIAL VISION EYES ON THE STREET Avg/max visibility = 98% MEMORABILITY Vast waterfall wall Cooling water’s roar MAGIC Area per seat = 202 ft2 Seat types = 1 SITTABILITY Average edge = 2. and the homeless. The space is auditorily characterized by the mix of traffic noise with the waterfall’s steady roar.5 Directional reach = 19. the growing Georgia State University adds increasing student volumes to an area characterized by white collar workers. and countless eateries (many mainly open only for lunch). Centered just south of the site.
2002 F. Flatiron Building. Aderhold Learning Center. 1906 B. 1968 Average building age = 55. Suntrust Bank Building. URBAN 3 ORGANICNESS: Located at the city’s center. a long waterfall wall. Georgia-Pacific Plaza. 1983 C.INTEGRATION: Centrally located within the city’s most integrated district. 1971 D.5). cannot avoid including the plaza’s primary feature.5 years Building age range = 105 years SERIAL VISION: Set in the city’s heart. This might be one of Atlanta’s most architecturally rich and organic environments. Candler Building. Its directional reach (19. however. A. Each vista.3) probably registers lower than it should: the westerly blocks’ apparent angularity on these maps suggests the GIS data used for the analysis was inaccurate (blocks are much more square in reality). 37 . move along the water’s edge in the open sun until the shady gridded grove where diverse people rest. the plaza is surrounded by some of the region’s most significant urban edifaces. GSU. every view from this section of Woodruff Park includes a different part of Atlanta’s diverse skyline. 1897 E. Starting from the southeast corner. Equitable Building. Woodruff Park achieves a very high 1-mile metric reach value (57. from the 19th century Flatiron Building to the modernist Equitable Building to contemporary Georgia State additions.
the plaza is both isolating and democratizing in magical simultaneity. the long waterfall along the back edge frames and characterizes the entire space. The sparkling. one can always see almost everyone occupying the plaza but can never hear anyone unless very near them. cool space in peace and relaxation.393 Average visibility = 386 Avg/Max = 98% MAGIC: Dominated by the waterfall’s roar. provides a unique backdrop to passing figures. a diverse population can “silently” share the same. roaring wall foregrounds the city’s impressive skyline. ARCHITECTURAL 3 MEMORABILITY: Easily the plaza’s defining feature. 38 . Thus.EYES ON THE STREET: Geometrically simple. Visibility range = 78 . and creates a memorable atmosphere in which to pause and socialize. and without tall visual obstructions. almost totally flat. the plaza can be completely observed from almost every vantage except around its northern and southern corners. Because of its wide openness. The tree grove might be the only section potentially containing blind spots.
300 ft2 202 ft2/seat 1 seat type PERSONAL 3 SOFT EDGES: The plaza’s edges are characterized by water on one side. trees. and the heavily shaded. Uniform benches along pool and amongst trees ~125 seats MULTIPLICITY: The water’s edge accomodates small scale meetings and snacks. Centrally located and accommodatingly designed. 125 total seats 25. including the monthly Critical Mass bike ride starting line. sidewalk. or sleep on. and a continuous bench/ledge all around.SITTABILITY: The only seat type in this section of Woodruff Park is the well-dimensioned linear bench system that runs along the waterfall and amongst the trees. landscaping. the seating accommodates enough different sorts of activities to transcend its formal homogeneity. water. landscaping flanked by sidewalk on the other. this plaza enables much multiplicity. Wide enough to sit. benches. layered as follows: street. well-benched interior accommodates congenial homeless congregations. the entire plaza could be considered a large-scale urban edge. the southern expanse hosts civic gatherings. open. Tree line Bench Pool 3 layers Sidewalk Bench Landscaping 3 layers Sidewalk Bench Landscaping 3 layers Pool 1 layer 39 . Located at a key intersection downtown. eat. benches.
the urban designer learns in transferrable detail how design decisions affect the life of a space. CASE STUDY SUMMARY One word of caution: though similarly studied. Furthermore. Each metric’s measurement depends on so many variously contingent factors that a comparison based on these metrics alone – especially a judgmental comparison – would hardly be tenable. Instead. or otherwise accommodates it. make (or propose) a change. the metrics should be used to clarify current conditions or gauge the effects of potential changes to the current given condition. inhibits. A designer could run the analysis. This utilization method informs the study’s potential policy implications as outlined in the following pages. and then re-run the analysis to see how the change affects the social and experiential nature of the site. these sites are not necessarily directly comparable nor should one be deemed better than another simply because it scored more favorably according to a particular metric. The case studies are meant to help elucidate the sites on their own terms. the same score for a metric might prove favorable for one site but not for another. not in relation to each other. By connecting perceived social and experiential phenomena with the physical space that produces. 40 . enables.The three preceding case studies demonstrate how the literature review’s metrics apply and result in real places.
Engineering bodies regulate structural and topographical issues to ensure the building sits in the ground and stands up properly. The urban design field needs a similar regulatory evaluation system to ensure designers adequately accommodate the city’s social and experiential needs and wants – call it an Experiential Impact Statement. Had the developers been spared this process. s/he would more than likely incorporate what that process illuminated about the site’s social and experiential conditions and potentials into subsequent design phases and into the final. 41 POLICY IMPLICATIONS . The Environmental Impact Statement process mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates in this way: by forcing designers to engage with certain issues at the design’s first phase ensures the final design will satisfactorily respond to the issues after implementation. Having outlined and evaluated their project’s environmental impact early in the design process. and federally approved). more aptly. ADA requirements govern accessibility. the EPA requires that the lead development party prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. and so on.This study has potentially powerful policy implications: if the mapping and analysis process demonstrated by these three case studies was required of all designers and developers at the outset of their project’s planning phase. it is likely their projects would consequentially incur more favorable social and experiential characteristics. publicly vetted. at the beginning of a redevelopment project). built product. CURRENT BUILDING REGULATION AGENCIES AND PROCESSES At a project’s planning outset. a project’s early-stage Environmental Impact Statement must be meticulously assembled. banks confirm financing solvency. Other regulating agencies also require such preliminary project studies to ensure their particular concerns are accommodated before construction begins. If. a designer was required to consider and document the metrics described here (and more). Preparing this document requires the developers to outline the project’s environmental consequences and confront these realities well before the project is built or even very extensively planned (to move forward with the planning process. the developer becomes compelled to adjust their later design concepts to avoid potential negative impacts uncovered by the Environmental Impact Statement process. fire departments verify plans on the drawing boards support fire safety. environmental consequences might never have crossed their minds and the project might have ended up an ecological blight. at the beginning of a development project (or maybe.
again. they likely consider the project’s possible social and experiential consequences in addition to its physical and formal impact. But. The procedure would involve mapping and analyzing the project’s site and its surroundings with various quantitative and qualitative methods to ensure the designers are cognizant of the myriad social and experiential consequences of their work. but again. EXPERIENTIAL IMPACT STATEMENT Just as developers of large enough projects are required by the EPA to complete an Environmental Impact Statement early in the design process. their ruling only indirectly influences the project’s actual design process – they are not on the team that conceives the project in the first place so their often highly valid and applicably informed concerns are therefore not embedded in the project’s design. and other general development aspects. They consider whether a proposal conforms to their vision of the place it is slated to inhabit and. Design review boards are highly project-specific and contextual in their evaluation.But who regulates urban design? More specifically. who regulates the social experience of urban design projects? CURRENT URBAN DESIGN REGULATION AGENCIES AND PROCESSES Zoning controls land uses. The resultant document would resemble something like an extended version 42 . but while zoning is one of the first limiters checked during the early design phase. in their deliberations. setbacks. urban designers could be required to complete an Experiential Impact Statement at or near the beginning of their schematic design stage. all the designer must do is follow the code to comply – s/he is never compelled to actively engage with the project’s impact on the social and experiential phenomena. Form based codes and other building codes more formal than basic zoning laws come closer to governing a project’s experience and influencing its design accordingly at early concept development stages. Perhaps it is time for an Environmental Impact Statement of sorts tailored to address these urban design concerns. There doesn’t seem to be an agency or process that ensures urban designers are taking social and experiential issues into account during their project’s initial design phases – the most critical time to influence a development process. even if the code was written to protect or promote a certain experience or social agenda. conforming to zoning does not require engaging with the project’s potential experiential or social impact. buildable area.
recognized by clients and even. However ultimately implemented. in some cases. Perhaps this knowledge would inform their building’s footprint or orientation. This would contribute to the overall urban experience by encouraging symbolic relationships between structures old and new about the city. designers would become equipped to engage their surrounding historical context. 43 ORGANICNESS . presented to the general public. Having researched the origins and histories of neighboring sites and structures. and/or demanded by a client. the designers of a project subject to the Experiential Impact Statement would run the GIS analysis on their site and its environs as demonstrated by this paper’s case studies. ensuring they keep social and experiential issues at their attentions’ fore. More educational tool than regulating device. This process would help them understand where their site resides within the city’s network of integrated and not-so-integrated mobility channels. They would learn sociospatial importance of the streets binding their site and the streets connecting their site to the rest of the city. With an idea how their project’s vicinity has developed over time.of one of this paper’s case studies and would help guide the designers as they develop their project. they might feel more compelled to engage that built heritage (whereas they might have otherwise ignored it). It might also inform how they perforate their site with public open space and passages – they could knowingly capitalize on potentially important routes alongside and/or through their project (or at least avoid disrupting them). They might see their project as another piece of the longstanding urban puzzle instead of a discrete investment manifestation in a vacuum. the document and its production process is not intended to strictly regulate urban design outcomes – instead it simply needs to be part of the design and development process to ensure the issues it exposes are addressed by designers. solicited by a request for proposal. The Experiential Impact Statement could be mandated by the city. the Experiential Impact statement process could positively influence urban design projects’ social and experiential qualities in the following ways: INTEGRATION One of the more straightforward metrics.
A difficult metric to measure. the image series more faithfully expresses the multi-angled reality of a space as seen moving through space and time. This tool makes it easy to see exactly where troublesome corners might exist and it helps the city specifically recommend where design adjustments should be made. perhaps the designers would simply be asked 44 SERIAL VISION EYES ON THE STREET MEMORABILITY MAGIC . while preliminarily surveying and scouting their site. if. Required to run the Depth Map isovist analysis on their sites and proposals as demonstrated in this paper’s case studies. Perhaps the designer would even be asked to place their site and their proposal within that system to prove it participates appropriately in the monumental dialogue. stakeholders and citizens can more directly vet their attention-grabbing strategy to be sure it contributes to the city’s overall system of landmarks and icons. On one hand. On the other hand. designers would have to represent their sites and proposals with series of images that emphasize the dynamic experience incurred by passing through and/or past it. designers were required to acknowledge and document the particularly memorable and distinctive aspects in and surrounding it. if asked to report exactly how they plan to memorably mark their project before too many plans are drawn.Instead of generating a single money-shot perspective to promote their projects. designers may quickly quantify and visualize the visual range from all points and ascertain where people might or might not feel exposed or secluded. This helps the designer consider the users’ extended experience of the project (rather than just a single view at a single moment) and it helps stakeholders realize more precisely what effect the project will have on its part of their city. Whereas the money-shot represents a single moment from a single vantage that isn’t always honestly portrayed. safe or vulnerable. they might be more inclined to preserve existing points of heritage.
produce projects that embody the best of what each metric seeks to ascertain. week.to reflect in a statement about the potential for magic around the site and comment on how they might work to enhance (or at least not detract from) it.) to satisfy typical. heterogeneous demand. Providing a planned seating schedule would help ensure the space will include an adequate variety of seat types (benches. While this metric might not be directly measurable. in turn. quiet.) in enough environmental conditions (shade. Perhaps the designers would be required to execute a documentary study of the site and its environs during the early design phases to observe and report the complete variety of activity the area contains and supports around the clock. etc. designers subject to the above gauntlet would. ANALYITICAL GESTALT OR CATCH 22 In a perfect world. and year as they imagine how their project will be occupied. the authorities can confirm that the project will be sufficiently porous and epidermally activated given surrounding conditions and precedent. MULTIPLICITY SOFT EDGES SITTABILITY 45 . Recognizing or at least acknowledging the potential for spontaneity and dynamism might help expand the designers’ imagination about what all their project might be able to accommodate. By providing schematic sections documenting the layers they intend to introduce early in the design process. water. ledges. designers will be forced to engage the visual and physical boundaries of their structures. etc. designers can pragmatically ensure they are including enough seats to fill demand. If asked to explain their approach to and/or understanding of the site’s building edges. Another very straightforward and practical device. it helpfully encourages the designers to consider all hours of the day. tables. chairs. seating studies would ensure designers are providing adequate sitting conditions for the people inhabiting the space. It is unreasonable to require every building to create magic (or memorability for that matter). but the designers should at least be made aware of its presence and/or possibility. By comparing the number of users (or expected users) to the space’s area. loud. sun.
In the latter case. certain labyrinthine site conditions might promote “serial vision” but inhibit “eyes on the street”. There are always more authors’ perspectives to include and more ways to measure and/or document the expandable set of quantitative and qualitative metrics. It is not this study’s purpose to make sure all sites pass all tests. HOW TO USE. AND ADVANCE THIS STUDY This study should be used as a model to inform a more sophisticated and comprehensive process of urban design analysis and evaluation. In the former case. Recommended next steps include further vetting the study by applying it to more places elsewhere in the world and expanding it into a policy initiative intent on positively influencing urban design development and enriching the public evaluation process of urban project proposals (akin to the Experiential Impact Statement concept introduced above). the study and its metrics simply hope to expand the ways and means by which designers analyze their site and anticipate their proposals’ effects. it might become clear that few sites and/or designers can positively deliver on all fronts. however. in a particular case. DEVELOP.Realistically. Instead. REDEVELOPMENT VERSUS NEW DEVELOPMENT The spectrum of urban design project types runs from minimal redevelopment within mature urban fabric (such as revising a downtown plaza) to entirely new developments separate from existing urban structure (such as a new city or district built from scratch). 46 . this study should be used to evaluate preexisting social and experiential conditions and then measure how proposed redevelopments will influence and interact with what surrounds and came before them. For example. Perhaps. excelling according to one metric directly entails floundering according to another. this study should be used to expand the design imagination and help ensure the new project fosters social and experiential richness. after running the analytical gamut.
Bill. Jacobs. Jane. New York: Random House. 1971.Alexander. Jacobs. Washington DC: Conservation Foundation. Crawford. 1984. Cullen. 1999. New York: Oxford University Press. 47 .. A New Theory of Urban Design. Great Streets. BIBLIOGRAPHY Lynch. 1960. Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Allan. 1980. Jan. The Image of the City. Life Between Buildings. New York: Monacelli Press. MA: Technology Press. 1993. 1980. William. Gehl. The Concise Townscape. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Christopher. The Social Logic of Space. Hillier. and Julienne Hanson. The Social Life of Small Public Spaces. Everyday Urbanism. Kevin. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Margaret. Gordon. 1987. Whyte. 1961. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. Denmark: Bianco Lunos Bogtrykkeri.
com/photos/christianmontone/3843460642/ Bottom: http://www.All images on pages 9-25 scanned from associated texts except the following: Page 9 Top and bottom: courtesy of Dr.jpg Page 17: Top: http://www.net/images/Eindhoven_Syntax_Map.flickr. John Peponis.peripheralfocus. 48 .flickr. Georgia Tech IMAGE CREDITS Page 15 Top: http://www.com/photos/8511649@N03/3084877212/ All other images produced by the author.
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