Do Seats, Food Vendors, and Sculptures Improve Plaza Visitability?

Dina Abdulkarim & Jack L. Nasar

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Abdulkarim, D. & Nasar, J. L. (1). Do Seats, Food Vendors, and Sculptures Improve Plaza Visitability?. Environment and Behavior, 46(7), 805–825.

Liveliness , Plazas , Preference Scale , Public Art , Public Space , Sittable , Triangulation , Vendors , Visitability Scale

Building on Whyte’s work on livable places, the present study developed a four-item scale to assess visitability and used it to test whether three attributes identified by Whyte—seating, food, and triangulation—increase visit- ability.The study used color slides of three plazas altered for the presence or absence of each attribute. Sixty participants (23 men and 37 women) rated slides of the plazas on each of four items on the Perceived Visitability Scale (PVS). The four items had high interitem reliability, and each item and their composite had high interobserver reliability.The visitability ratings showed that plazas with seats, food, or sculpture had higher scores than plazas without those elements; and the combination of seats and sculpture had higher scores than either element alone. Contradicting Whyte, there was no statistically significant effect of gender. Seats, sculpture, and the perceived compatibility of elements with one another may improve plaza visitability.

Main finding
Are there certain aspects of public spaces that increase the degree to which it is perceived as "visitable"? This study focuses on three physical attributes: seating, food, art, and a combination of all three. Results indicate that plazas that contain these three elements are perceived as more "visitable" than those without, but that sittable space was the most important and the highest cumulative visitability spaces are those that include all three.

Description of method used in the article
Color photographs of three plazas were shown to participants (N = 60), each digitally manipulated to show presence or absence of seats, food, and triangulation. Participates rated "visibility" based on a 4-item "Perceived Visitability Scale."

Of some practical use if combined with other research

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