Literature on the design and management of urban parks has been informed by empirical research on the value of public space in terms of economic value, public health, social, and environmental benefits. Although there is significant value in discussing these benefits, there has been a lack of understanding about the production of public space as a normative goal. In the field of urban design and planning, neighborhood parks have been recognized as one of the key urban public spaces that serve the social, economic, and environmental needs of adjacent neighborhoods. However, relevant studies mostly focus on the contribution of neighborhood parks as discrete space, instead of neighborhood parks as built spaces within the urban context.

This research will provide a better understanding of the relationship between the context of surrounding neighborhoods and the success of neighborhood parks within the United States. The research addresses two major research questions: 1) what are the major characteristics of the context around neighborhood parks; and 2) how does this context correlate with the success of neighborhood parks. The context in this research refers to the layout and configuration of urban form around neighborhood parks. The fundamental elements for morphological analysis include patterns of buildings, blocks, streets, and land use. These morphological elements will establish the associated implications in terms of density, accessibility, permeability, public space network, and spatial enclosure. The success of neighborhood parks for this research includes park usage as well as property value and crime rate around neighborhood parks.

This research is divided into two major phases. First, a comprehensive study will be conducted for in-depth understanding of the major characteristics of morphological context around neighborhood parks at three scales. Second, using a controlled case study approach, the association of morphological context on the success of neighborhood parks will be investigated using a multivariate, quantitative analysis. For the first phase of research, major attributes of the surrounding context such as patterns of buildings, blocks, streets, and land use will be collected as explanatory variables. Using data from this phase, a matrix of morphological contexts around each neighborhood park will be created in order to develop a typology of neighborhood park contexts using ESRI Arc GIS software. In the second phase, data on usage of parks, property value, and crime will be collected as dependent variables. The typology of neighborhood park context will be used for mapping analysis. It will facilitate the measurement and analysis of the morphological patterns of neighborhood park context at various scales and densities. This research will provide better understanding of the morphological context of urban public space. It will also shed light on measures on a broadened meaning of park “success.”

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