Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Benedict, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Ellen Vincent

Committee Member

Dr. Carter Hudgins

Committee Member

Dr. Elizabeth Baldwin


In Ornament and Crime, Adolf Loos stated, “Architecture arouses sentiments in man. The architect’s task therefore, is to make those sentiments more precise” (Tournikiotis, P., 1994, pg. 30; Loos, 1908/1998). Today, that sentiment can be described as place attachment, or feelings of bonding that occur between individuals and environments that are personally meaningful (Scannell and Gifford, 2010). For many, these special environments are historic urban areas, which over the past century have undergone tremendous change. However, as the pace of revitalization quickens, conflicts regarding adaptive use and new development have also increased due to the competing interests of heritage (historical and cultural importance), preservation (preserving, restoring, and adaptive use), and planning (economic development, revitalization). As regulatory processes have an immediate and profound effect on shaping development within historic districts, it will become essential to address how these regulations affect revitalization and development within historic areas. Many locally designated historic districts rely on preservation experts, outside consultants, and government officials to develop design guidelines for locally designated districts. However, this is a process that can have limited public participation or coordination with a comprehensive preservation planning program (Lawson, 1993; Stipe, 2003). Lacking community input, the design guidelines can inadvertently overlook places or elements within the district that the community values. Instead, design guidelines often emphasize a particular era in that district’s history as the “period of significance” for structures within the historic district, in which the focus is placed on architectural characteristics, elements, and aesthetics of the chosen period. This can result in regulatory bodies recommending the removal or alteration architectural elements deemed inappropriate for the original structure in favor of projects that conform to the aesthetics of the chosen era (Hurley, 2010). While these “inappropriate” elements could have been added decades after original construction and in an disparate style, the 50 year metric for defining “historic” means these additions have since become historic in their own right. The question then becomes which “historic” architecture is more significant and worthy of preservation? This contradiction can heighten tensions between heritage, preservation, and planning since the guidelines generally have no mechanism to incorporate deeper social significance or heritage concerns into the evaluation and regulation of historic resources.Given the revitalization and redevelopment challenges that historic districts face, the purpose of this research is to explore the relationship between place attachment and the design regulatory process within locally designated historic districts. Through such an exploration, the research seeks to understand whether or not identifying the existing place attachments could ease tensions between heritage, preservation, and planning by helping communities develop consensus and support for redevelopment projects that are affected by the regulatory process. As part of the research purpose, the primary research objectiveis to develop a replicable methodology that communities can utilize in developing and updating their design guidelines. The research methodology will allow communities to identify architectural elements that capture the unique character of their historic districts and foster and strengthen place attachment among residents and visitors.



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