GIS Spatial Analysis for the Design of Urban Open Space




Howard, Michael

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Graduate School of Texas Tech University


Urban design in the landscape tradition has a unique set of users and uses due to the nature of urban sites in densely developed areas, yet many urban designers employ the same basic approach in terms of their design process and site analysis methods as they would in suburban or rural areas. In addition, urban design theory is not adequately reflected in the analytical methods traditionally used by landscape architects, nor do traditional methods adequately synthesize the multitude of complex information urban designers must consider throughout all phases of the urban design process. However, GIS offers unique tools for data management, visualization and most importantly spatial analysis, allowing the urban designer new methods for the design of urban open space. The author examines the traditional site design process and site analysis methods, the most common GIS spatial analysis techniques, and the theoretical framework of urban design in the landscape architectural tradition in an effort to determine the applicability of GIS functionality as a resource to the traditional design process, determine the applicability of GIS spatial analysis tools to aid and enhance the traditional site analysis methods, and determine the applicability of GIS spatial analysis tools as a means to analyze the key dimensions of urban design as set forth by urban design theory. GIS spatial analysis tools are demonstrated following the traditional design process in an application study at Republic Square, an urban park in Austin, Texas.


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