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Keeping Promises: Exploring the Role of Post-Occupancy Evaluation in Landscape Architecture

How well do constructed landscapes live up to the lofty goals established by design professionals? And how do we know? Former CSI research assistant and University of Oregon graduate student Andrew Louw is investigating this topic for his masters thesis. He is both trying to understand the role of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) within the landscape architecture profession and exploring the use of a digital data collection method for POEs.


Though environmental, social, and economic performance goals are often identified during the pre-design and design stages of a project, most projects lack effective post-construction monitoring and observation to determine if, and how well, the project’s design goals are being met. LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program was born out of a need to encourage and support design firms in assessing performance and documenting the benefits of sustainable landscape projects. CSI is now in its fourth year, and leading firms are increasingly investing in in-house research. Yet  little is known about the use of and perceptions towards post-occupancy evaluation within the profession as a whole.

Louw believes a method known as Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI), which is already used widely in the design process, may be well-suited for post-occupancy landscape performance analysis. The technology increases the capacity for analysis by crowdsourcing data collection to users, has relatively low cost, offers the opportunity for longitudinal study, and could be more objective than traditional methods since there is less chance for bias from volunteers.

Louw is evaluating Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) as a tool for POE by comparing it with traditional approaches like direct observation and intercept surveys. Using a LAF case study site, Central Wharf Plaza in Boston, he also sets out to develop a framework for using Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) for evaluating landscape performance.

Landscape architecture practitioners and others interested in landscape performance are invited to participate in Louw’s study by taking the following survey:

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