Planning for Higher Education Journal

Using Behavioral Research to Assist in the Redesign of University Plazas

Journal Cover
From Volume 33 Number 2 | December–February 2004
By Dan Amsden

Institutions referenced in this resource:
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

This article looks at how behavioral research can be an effective tool to use during the redesign process of university plazas. It also summarizes the research that was conducted at University Union Plaza at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), a 30-year-old plaza that is scheduled to be redesigned. Through the use of behavioral and cognitive mapping techniques, this research illustrates how people react to various design characteristics of the existing plaza and how this affects the way they use the space. The research was used as a tool to analyze the positive and negative design attributes of the existing plaza and to provide recommendations for its redesign. The research method described in this article was an effective way for Cal Poly planners to analyze the plaza’s existing design and provides justifiable recommendations for its redesign. This research has not only been beneficial to planners at Cal Poly but can also be useful for professionals at other university campuses interested in redesigning plazas and communal areas.

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