Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Environmental Design and Planning

Advisor

Battisto, Dina

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth

Committee Member

Ellis , Cliff

Committee Member

Goetcheus , Cari

Abstract

Purpose:
To counter the over-reliance of historic preservation research and practice on objective, expert values by understanding how people subjectively value and are attached to the age and design of traditionally-designed urban residential neighborhoods.
Research question:
How does the age of traditionally designed, urban residential environments affect the degree and character of place attachment for residents?
Cases:
1) historic Charleston, south of Broad Street, 2) I'On new urbanist development in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.
Unit of analysis:
Residents of 1) historic Charleston and 2) I'On.
Methodology (methods):
Sequential mixed-method: phenomenology (interviews) followed by a survey methodology (on-line survey instrument); both employ photo elicitation techniques.
Dependent variables:
Measures of general attachment, dependence, identity, and rootedness. (Place attachment is dependent on an individual's aesthetic attitudes about the environment.)
Independent variables:
Perceptions and valuation of place; behaviors elicited by environmental factors.
Findings:
Historic Charleston and I'On residents perceive their neighborhoods as being layered and having a sense of discovery and mystery. Age value is only associated with patina and spontaneous fantasy in historic Charleston; both of these variables correlate with increased levels of general attachment or dependence. Residents of both neighborhoods exhibit very high levels of general attachment, dependence, and identity. Rootedness is higher in Charleston. Place attachment is correlated with many more environmental variables in historic Charleston than it is in I'On.
Limitations:
A low response rate may indicate there is self-selection bias in the sample; the survey demographics, however, are mostly congruent with census data and lend support to the claim of generalizability of the results.
Practical implications:
The results of this study can be broadly applied to any discipline in which the holistic valuation of the built and natural environments is important. The mixed-methodological framework provides a way to explain quantitative findings through previously gathered qualitative meanings to increase overall validity and reliability. For historic preservation, it is important to protect masonry patina because of its association with place attachment. Both historic preservation and urban design can benefit from increasing the amount of 'unseen effort' in interventions made to the built environment. The assessment of what makes certain places significant should focus on sociocultural and phenomenological values as well as objective/expert values.

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