Research Design Connections

Park Use – Benchmark Info (01-03-18)

Cohen and team collected benchmark information on park use.  They learned via “a representative sample of 174 neighborhood parks in 25 major cities (population >100,000) across the U.S. [that when] Park use, park-based physical activity, and park conditions were observed during a typical week . . . during spring/summer of 2014. [Researchers determined that] Nationwide, the average neighborhood park of 8.8 acres averaged 20 users/hour or an estimated 1,533 person hours of weekly use. Walking loops and gymnasia each generated 221 hours/week of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

Garden Use by the Elderly (01-02-18)

Shi, Tong, and Tao investigated the use of gardens by elderly people.  They report that “Gardens for the elderly . . . have been revealed to be beneficial to the elderly’s well-being and quality of life. . . . one garden at a care facility for the elderly was studied through total site factor measurement, resident and staff interviews, along with observations. . . . level changes are found to be more influential [on use] than distance and shade.”


Research Conversations

Dome view

Ceilings significantly affect the psychological experience of being in a place, although space users do not often focus on these horizontal planes.  This article reviews neuroscience research on ceilings and how these surfaces can be used to achieve design objectives.

Reflected Façades

Cognitive science research in urban and other settings regularly shows that people are people no matter where they are and that they respond in consistent ways to the worlds around themselves. This article highlights findings from urban design studies that illustrate fundamental design principles that improve people’s lives, anyplace.


Designed and natural spaces can inspire awe in humans.  How do they produce this effect and why does it matter?  Applying insights gained from social science research to answer these questions enhances design practice.

How we sense and make sense of the environment around us—and how our brains work with information, in general—can vary based on where we are on Earth.  We discuss Equator-relative, design-related variations in thoughts and behaviors in this article.

PlaceCoach News Briefs


Findings that prevent crowding


Build in exploration

Quantifying the effects of applying basic principles

What's on the walls matters

The right answer depends on location

Research to inform design that supports rehabilitation

Practical. Relevant. Free.

Varying user experiences can be appropriate

Book Reviews


Makes unconscious forces conscious considerations

A crucial guide to an important tool

Design at Work


London’s Design Museum is a marvelous place to spend time and to learn about design's ability to influence our lives.