College - Author 1

College of Architecture and Environmental Design

Department - Author 1

City and Regional Planning Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in City and Regional Planning



Primary Advisor

Amir Hajrasouliha


The outdoor space of university campuses is an aspect of design which still remains, to a certain degree, uncharted. There are merely not enough relevant case studies and research in creating foundational principles which adhere to the design of a functional outdoor space on university campuses.

The success of the student body for a college, academically and socially, is dependent on creating a welcoming and holistic learning environment for students to thrive. Social spaces bridge the gap between the built and natural environment, therefore, providing proper physical components in an outdoor space becomes vital in creating a desired environment which serves the student body. Analyzing human interaction through observations and interviews will bring forward the necessity of creating an engaging academic experience outside of traditional classrooms and highlight how crucial outdoor spaces are for the social and academic success of students.

This project draws inspiration from William H. Whyte’s documentary film and book “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces.” As he analyzes the effective and ineffective plazas and public spaces across the United States, he creates dialogue around human behavior and the built environment. Holly Whyte shows how basic tools of observation and interviews allow for learning substantial information about the human relationship with public spaces. Following his reasoning and methodology, this project uses location criteria, accounts for natural elements, observes student activities, and analyzes the relationship among each of these.

This study intends to understand how students utilize different outdoor spaces, the effectiveness of those spaces, and improvements students desire through observations and interviews acquired via activity scan forms and user intercept surveys. Ultimately, this study serves to create an identity for the outdoor learning spaces on university campuses to improve student success. Campus planners can create successful outdoor space by programming needs and analyzing the relationship between student behavior, activities, nature, and the built environment. Though, this project facilitates a conversation for creating effective outdoor spaces on university campuses, it is merely an introductory discussion of the intricate and imperative concepts of humanity and design.