Environment Studies

In these research projects, I was tasked with observing connections between human behavior and a given environment. I then visualized my observations in different series of maps that comment on peoples' behavior in and movement through the space. Based on my conclusions, I designed interventions that would enhance or address problems with these interactions. 


Site Visualization - Barton Springs

In this scenario, I was tasked with observing how people interacted with the environment at Barton Springs Pool, a large public swimming pool created by natural springs. I noted relationships between temperature and water/tree canopies, how this affected peoples' movements, and where different people ended up. This data became a series of overlapping maps that I used to influence my intervention: a new entrance to the park opposite the existing one. 


This project introduced me to data visualization and designing with a deeper understanding of the context my design would exist within. The challenge of using visuals to relate different types of data was very rewarding, and really influenced every step of the design process that followed it. 



Data and Space - Au Bon Pain

with Stephanie Chen, Robert Managad, Jacob Paul

Using skills developed in the previous project, I contributed to this one by visualizing observations I made of problem spaces within a dining location and the area surrounding it. The goal of the project was to understand how to improve peoples' experiences without making radical changes to the layout of the space or the checkout system established by the company. 



Space Sharing - CMU Campus

with Laura Rospigliosi, Emily Tolmer

Here the goal was to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates people to use a given space differently in different scenarios. Our focus was on space sharing—specifically how to increase it in public, multipurpose areas. We created a survey with maps of three popular locations, and had two different schematics for each location. The first was a baseline: a map of the place when it is empty with options for where to sit. The second proposed a scenario where they have to choose from the same available seats while others are also occupying the space. For each map, participants were to mark their first choice green, their second blue, and their third red. We then asked questions about why they made the changes they did. 


After we finished collecting data, we condensed it into the following maps, which indicate the average preferences of the group of participants in each scenario. We found that people weren't very comfortable approaching a stranger to share a table with them, but most people said they would feel comfortable sharing a table with a stranger if the stranger approached them and asked to share. This led us to believe that if we created a way for students to avoid the initial act of asking for permission to share a table, strangers would be more willing to share tables and effectively use spaces.



In order to alleviate the social stresses of approaching a stranger to share a table, our solution was to design cards that allow the person seated at the table to signal their preference about sharing the space. This way, others looking for seats would simply have to either find an empty table, or look for a card signaling a stranger’s willingness to share.

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This project was an interesting next step in my series of environment studies, as I gained experience in designing an effective way of surveying people while still relying on my ability to visualize data. This allowed me to propose a way of addressing a widespread problem that is realistic and efficient.