SWA Group recently released 'Field Guide to Life in Urban Plazas: A Study in New York City,' a comprehensive survey that studies human behavior in ten recently completed urban sites.
Led by SWA's Innovation XL lab, the field guide is broken down into twenty-five patterns of pedestrian movement in Manhattan plazas such as alleys, transit plazas, private campus areas, and tactical urbanist interventions constructed or renovated in the last 15 years. Detailed diagrams illustrate data findings of social patterns and their impact on the usability of each space, from areas of gathering, to resting spots and walkways.
Field Guide to Life in Urban Plazas comes 40 years after American urbanist William H. Whyte's infamous "Street Life Project," a pioneering study of pedestrian behavior and city dynamic. Whyte was the first to look at the ways in which city dwellers occupied public spaces, and informed high-traffic urban planning for years to come. A refresh of Whyte's study, Field Guide identifies new patterns of social life in cities by providing glimpses into how public space is used today.
SWA's behavioral observations were extracted from site measurements and hand tabulations to understand context, physical elements, programming, and activity. Also, new analytical tools such as a machine-learning algorithms were used to develop heat maps of the areas layered on top of video footage.
Image: SWA Group