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Parking Lot Design (11-12-14)

More goes into the design of a parking lot than deciding the shape of the space to be paved.  At least it does when parking lots support local activities and enhance the lives of users. Ben-Joseph considers the cultural, utilitarian, aesthetic, design, and sustainability implications of parking lots, among others.  The book is a useful and important addition to the urban planning and landscape architecture resources available to designers and interested others who want to transform parking lots from waste lands into wonder lands—or at least positive spaces.

Insights on Designing for Hand Washing (11-11-14)

Many excellent designers have tried to create spaces that increase the likelihood that healthcare providers will wash their hands between patients.  Unfortunately, designing to support this behavior is difficult.

Black-and-White or Color? (11-07-14)

A press release from the Journal of Consumer Research reports on a study detailing the effects on consumers of viewing images in black-and-white (BW) or in color.  Researchers have learned that “consumers presented with BW (vs. color) product pictures weight primary and essential (vs. secondary and superficial) product features more and prefer an option that excels on those features.”  Designers can apply this research when discussing options with decision makers.

Learning More About Our Minds (11-06-14)

In a very readable book, Groh reports on how information we collect via our different sensory channels is integrated.  Coordinating this information helps us understand where things are and how to move through a space, for example.  This text may provide useful insights to practicing designers interested in learning more about how users experience the places and objects they develop.

Jennifer Groh.  2014.  Making Space:  How the Brain Knows Where Things Are.  Belknap Press:  New York. 

Usefulness of Free Urban Data (11-05-14)

As more data about urban environments become available online, it seems reasonable to consider the usefulness of this information.  In an article that will be published in peer-reviewed Big Data, scientists from IBM research and New York University report, after studying 9,000 data sets made available by 20 cities, “encouraging results on the quality and volume of the available data. . . .

Greenspace and Links to Place (11-04-14)

Does nearby greenspace affect how attached people feel to the area where they live?  Kimpton, Wickes, and Corcoran learned via research conducted in Australia that “While contemporary urban theories suggest that individuals have transcended their geographical community, evidence suggests that urban residents still feel ‘attached’ to place. . . . Scholars suggest physical features, such as community ‘greenspace’, may also influence place attachment.

Effectively Using Movies in Research (11-03-14)

Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz have learned that individuals can become involved in the movies they are watching, regardless of screen size, if the context in which they are watching the movie is similar to that found in a cinema.  This finding provides design researchers with new insights on how to collect information from study participants being shown videos of some sort, for example, virtual reality fly-throughs of proposed spaces.  The research team determined that “When the researchers gave a computer screen the attributes of a movie theater, the test sub