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Environmental Sciences - Environmental Health & Public Health | Measuring Urban Design - Metrics for Livable Places

Measuring Urban Design

Metrics for Livable Places

Ewing, Reid, Clemente, Otto

2013, VIII, 188 p.


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  • There is no other book available that explains how to tailor an urban design strategy to a specific community
  • Provides operational definitions and measurement protocols for five intangible qualities of urban design: imageability, visual enclosure, human scale, transparency, and complexity
  • Provides a field survey instrument that has been tested and refined for use by lay observers
  • The series draws from the expertise of some of the world’s leading scholars in the field of Metropolitan Planning + Design

What makes strolling down a particular street enjoyable? The authors of Measuring Urban Design argue it's not an idle question. Inviting streets are the centerpiece of thriving, sustainable communities, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the precise design elements that make an area appealing. This accessible guide removes the mystery, providing clear methods to measure urban design.
In recent years, many "walking audit instruments" have been developed to measure qualities like building height, block length, and sidewalk width. But while easily quantifiable, these physical features do not fully capture the experience of walking down a street. In contrast, this book addresses broad perceptions of street environments. It provides operational definitions and measurement protocols of five intangible qualities of urban design, specifically imageability, visual enclosure, human scale, transparency, and complexity.
The result is a reliable field survey instrument grounded in constructs from architecture, urban design, and planning. Readers will also find a case study applying the instrument to 588 streets  in New York City, which shows that it can be used effectively to measure the built environment's impact on social, psychological, and physical well-being. Finally, readers will find illustrated, step-by-step instructions to use the instrument and a scoring sheet for easy calculation of urban design quality scores.
For the first time, researchers, designers, planners, and lay people have an empirically tested tool to measure those elusive qualities that make us want to take a stroll. Urban policymakers and planners as well as students in urban policy, design, and environmental health will find the tools and methods in Measuring Urban Design especially useful.

Content Level » Professional/practitioner

Keywords » Columbia’s Built Environment and Health (BEH) group - Maryland Inventory of Urban Design Qualities (MIUDQ) protocol - Planning - Robert Wood Johnson Active Living Research (ALR) - Urban design

Related subjects » Ecology - Environmental Health & Public Health - Geography

Table of contents 



ONE Introduction

Why You Should Read This Book

Initial Screening of Qualities

Map of the Book


TWO Data Collection

Expert Panel


Library of Video Clips and Sample

Visual Assessment Survey


THREE Analysis and Final Steps

Walkability in Relation to Urban Design Qualities

Inter-Rater Reliability of Scene Ratings

Analyzing the Content of Sampled Scenes

Inter-Rater Reliability of Content Analysis

Urban Design Ratings in Relation to Physical Features

Cross-Classified Random Effects Models

Results of Statistical Analysis

Final Steps


FOUR Urban Design Qualities for New York City

Kathryn M. Neckerman, Marnie Purciel-Hill, James W. Quinn, and Andrew Rundle


Neighborhood Characteristics and Urban Design



New Strategies for Measuring Urban Design



FIVE Validation of Measures



D Variables





SIX Field Manual

Getting Started

Urban Design Quality Definitions

Measurement Instructions


Appendix 1: Biosketches of Expert Panel Members

Appendix 2: Operational Definitions of Physical Features

Appendix 3: Urban Design Qualities and Physical Features

Appendix 4: Scoring Sheet Measuring Urban Design Qualities



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