Jared C. Tveter and Dr. Samuel M. Otterstrom, Geography
The purpose of my research was to discover how to create greatness and magic in outdoor spaces. I culminated my research with an analysis of the Brigham Young University campus and how to improve it in such ways. The analysis was presented to the Campus Planning Department on August 24th, 2000.
Over the past year I read and analyzed numerous texts regarding the creation of greatness within a place. Many of the texts focused only on creating places based on artistic principles. These same texts also taught how to create some places as visually powerful and inspiring, and others as visually restful. Other books I read taught about creating environments for people to interact with. This involved creating aspects such as details in building facades, seating, and easy access to food vendors. Most texts referred to and analyzed various sites from around the world and what aspects made them so wonderful.
I visited many of the sites I read about, especially in San Francisco and its surrounding region. As I examined these locations and saw principles of visual and interactive design at work there, I slowly developed my own theory for designing environments for people.
This theory of how to create truly wonderful places for people consists of three fundamental elements: Embraceability, order, and uniqueness.
Great places embrace people. They do this by quench people’s senses and needs. The environment must be structured to satisfy our need to touch, hear, feel, socialize, learn, explore, discovery, be inspired, be entertained, play, be healthy, eat, find shelter, have control, work, travel, and feel safe. If any detail or aspect of the place does not further this great cause of serving people, in all ways possible, it holds back that place from the greatness it could be.
Great places have order. All aspects of the place are given order through the use of repetition and the use of dominant and subdominant images. Whether in the fine details of a building facade, or the placement of larger images such as buildings, monuments, seating, and shrubbery within a vista, everything must be ordered to make sense visually to people.
Great places are unique. They are not like any other place around it. A great place embraces people’s senses and needs in ways unique to that location. Furthermore, the general visual order itself will parallel no others. When a place is sincerely different from the places around it, it truly becomes a “place”.
When I analyzed the Brigham Young University campus, I applied the above theory to only a few key areas. I decided not evaluate the entire campus because of its great size. Within the report I gave some general guidelines for improvements followed by an in depth analysis of the selected key areas. I found the campus could be improved in many ways.
The problem solving process of examining spaces and then to conceiving unique solutions for each was probably my greatest struggle. Even though I did have a lot of examples to draw from my readings and personal experience, each space presented unique visual and interactivity problems to solve. Particularly, the Wilkinson Plaza became one of my greatest challenges. I spent a multitude of hours, both during the day and at night, standing and sitting at nearly every vantage point, and mulling over possibilities to find solutions to the many visual and human embraceability problems that persist there.
The end report that I presented to the Campus Planning Department is a treasure trove of ideas. It greatly stretched my creativity, and displays many of the concepts of good human environmental design that I have learned.