Inclusive Public Spaces

Location of public spaces analyzed in Alexandria, Virginia.

“People gather where things are happening and spontaneously seek the presence of other people.”

– Jan Gehl

Dr. Morton’s Fall 2018 Urban Design Seminar was “Inclusive Public Spaces: Applying the Gehl Institute’s Public Life Tools to Spaces in Alexandria.” The seminar gave graduate students from the urban planning, architecture, and landscape architecture departments the opportunity to explore public spaces as not only fundamental aspects of urban design, but also as critical and strategic vehicles for fostering inclusive and healthy public life in a city.

This exploration entailed a hands-on approach to observing, documenting and analyzing public spaces. Working in conjunction with representatives from the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities for the City of Alexandria, VA and the Gehl Institute, the class conducted field observations at two prominent public spaces: Market Square and Four Mile Run Park. Students documented observations of nearly 3,000 people using two tools created by the Gehl Institute (People Moving Count and Stationary Activity Mapping) and conducted stakeholder interviews using the Institute’s Twelve Urban Quality Criteria. The class produced a final report with recommendations for design improvements, taking into account the history of each site and existing community plans and visions for the spaces.

Data collection overview

The images below provide a sense of the range of findings included in the full report.

Total number of moving and stationary individuals recorded at Market Square and Four Mile Run Park Plaza.
Gender distribution observed at Market Square and Four Mile Run Park Plaza

People Moving Count

Stationary Activity Mapping