Photographs of 17 urban recreation sites in Chicago and Atlanta were evaluated by college strudents (n=68) in Illinois, Georgia, and Michigan, for either perceived security, scenic quality or both. For most raters, high visibility and developed park features significantly enhanced perceived security. Scenic quality, on the other hand, was enhanced for the majority of evaluators by a high degree of naturalness and vegetation. For both perceived safety and scenic quality a small minority of raters held preferences quite different from the majority.
The ground floors of buildings are a key element of the urban experience, yet the dynamics that shape frontages are largely unknown. This article delves into the forces and patterns behind the transforming relationship between architecture and public space in Western urban cores over the past century. After defining a methodology for structurally measuring the interactivity of ground floor frontages over time, the study focuses on two case study urban cores of Detroit, Michigan and The Hague, Netherlands. Through a combination of narra- tive historiography, detailed mapping and statistical studies a set of recommendations is generated to help urban designers and planners better understand and counter frontage decline. The two seemingly disparate cities are demonstrated to have undergone remarkably similar patterns of frontage interactivity erosion, with outcomes diverging as a result of an often reinforcing set of forces. Only upon understanding frontages as social, economic, cultural, political and technological constructs with physical, functional and connotative effects on public space will the profession be able to effectively steer the future of the architecture of public life.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH (2016)
Recent studies of public space in US central cities tend to focus either on (1) market-driven placemaking (privatized parks, hipster shops) in gentrifying enclaves
or (2) street cultures (community gardens, hip-hop) in low-income neighborhoods. Neither focus adequately frames the ability of African Americans to shape public space as the white middle class returns to central cities. In this case study of downtown Detroit, I theorize a dialectic: the history of clashes between racial capitalism and social movements in public space reappears in the contradictory design of market-driven placemaking, which suppresses and displays cultures of resistance. White business and real-estate interests showcase downtown spaces to counter news of disinvestment and suffering in low-income neighborhoods. The legal and political legacies of civil rights and black power struggles–– combined with consumer demand (black culture sells)––force them to involve black entrepreneurs, professionals and artists in placemaking. This placemaking subordinates the black urban poor, even as it incorporates their street cultures. The contradictions of placemaking shape possibilities for resistance, as shown in mundane subversions and street protests that use the downtown spotlight to call for social justice citywide. This analysis contributes to research on public space at a time when new movements are challenging public order in the financial core of US cities.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1985)
The importance of the nearby natural environment was studied in the context of multiple-family housing. Residents at nine sites responded to a questionnaire about the kinds of natural areas near their home and the perceived adequacy of these facilities. While the nearby environment is often relegated to the category of "amenity," the findings suggest that the availability and adequacy of nearby natural elements is of far greater significance than such a characterization implies. Furthermore, different aspects of the natural environment need to be distinguished. Large open spaces, for example, played a minor role, at best, in residents' ratings of satisfaction with various aspects of the neighborhood. Opportunities to grow plants, by contrast, were significantly related to the sense of community. The most important factors in neighborhood satisfaction, however, were the availability of nearby trees, well-landscaped grounds, and places for taking walks. The data suggest that some of the psychological satisfactions traditionally associated with home ownership may be achieved even in the multiple-family housing context through the effective use of the natural environment.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (1987)
Talbot, Janet Frey, Bardwell, Lisa V., & Kaplan, Rachel
Uses and perceptions of nine nearby, easily-accessible outdoor areas were studied by interviewing 89 residents of a multiple-family housing development. Judgments of perceived sizes, size adequacy, use frequencies, preferences, and perceived importance were elicited, along with descriptions of personal uses. The findings reveal consistent differences between three general types of areas which serve distinct functions. The yards serve territorial needs, the common areas and public athletic fields afford recreational opportunities, and a nearby wooded area with a pond provides a highly preferred setting for a variety of nature-related pursuits. Although most ratings varied across the different types, ratings of perceived importance were high for each. The findings of this study clarify the relationships among physical size, use patterns and preferences for different areas. They also illustrate the diverse affordances of different urban nature areas, and emphasize the important role that nature contacts play in the everyday lives of urban residents.
Mooney, S. J., Bader, M. D. M., Lovasi, G. S., Neckerman, K. M., Rundle, A. G., & Teitler, J. O.
Ordinary kriging, a spatial interpolation technique, is commonly used in social sciences to estimate neighborhood attributes such as physical disorder. Universal kriging, developed and used in physical sciences, extends ordinary kriging by supplementing the spatial model with additional covariates. We measured physical disorder on 1,826 sampled block faces across four U.S. cities (New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and San Jose) using Google Street View imagery. We then compared leave-one-out cross-validation accuracy between universal and ordinary kriging and used random subsamples of our observed data to explore whether universal kriging could provide equal measurement accuracy with less spatially dense samples. Universal kriging did not always improve accuracy. However, a measure of housing vacancy did improve estimation accuracy in Philadelphia and Detroit (7.9 percent and 6.8 percent lower root mean square error, respectively) and allowed for equivalent estimation accuracy with half the sampled points in Philadelphia. Universal kriging may improve neighborhood measurement.