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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Zaferatos, Nicholas C. (Nicholas Christos)

Second Advisor

Berardi, Gigi M.

Third Advisor

Stangl, Paul


Fundamental to the design of sustainable neighborhood spatial units, is an understanding of the relationship between sustainability, public outdoor space, and the production of social capital. Thoughtful and purposefully designed public outdoor space can act as a venue for the production of social capital essential for resilient and sustainable communities. The morphology of a public outdoor space plays a critical role in its success as effective infrastructure for the development of community social capital. This research is concerned with urban public outdoor space and the identification and analysis of the spatial and morphological features which maximize the social utility of that space. These design variables are examined through the physical analysis of a regional group of exemplary Italian piazze. In this study, the U. S. Green Building Council's L.E.E.D. for Neighborhood Development Rating System is critically examined and suggestions are made for modifications to its treatment of public outdoor spaces. Preliminarily, the underlying structure of the LEED ND, in regard to the criteria's typology of public outdoor space, is examined and suggestions made for its strengthening. With that typology in place, a systematically selected sample of Italian piazze is used as prototypical of those physical characteristics seen as fundamental to effective public outdoor space. This research focuses on the criticality of planar dimension as a basis for operative pubic outdoor space design. Also important to a comprehensive understanding of spatial design is the inclusion of other morphological features that contribute to effective public outdoor space. These additional attributes, corner morphology, sectional proportion and planar area, are also examined and evaluated. Specific recommendations are made for improvements in the LEED ND criteria based on the developed typology and the analysis of the shared physical features of the selected piazze. Particular attention is given to those elements in the morphology of effective public outdoor space directly related to the human perceptual experience.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Plazas--Italy; Public spaces--Planning; Community development, Urban--Environmental aspects; Sustainable architecture; Social capital (Sociology); Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System

Geographic Coverage





masters theses




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