Measuring Place Attachment: Stabilizing Factors in Inner Ring Suburbs

By Aliaa Elabd and George Hallowell.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The patterns of stability or change in cities can be jarringly different between neighborhoods within the same urban area. Often it is the first-ring neighborhoods in cities that most reflect socioeconomic fluctuations. While some have experienced a downward spiral, other communities have been stable and persistent. What are the factors that have allowed some neighborhoods to thrive, while all around them are cycles of systemic change? This study examines how patterns and perceptions of built form are associated with the socio-psychological aspects of place identity and place attachment, and how this relates to stability or change in older neighborhoods. A case study approach is used to investigate two neighborhoods in Durham, and Charlotte, with similar histories, demographics, and downtown proximity, but differences in their patterns of change and fluctuation over years. Several methodologies are blended to delineate the spatial factors relating to differences in stability. Techniques include a survey instrument to measure place identity and place attachment, comparisons to measures of respondents’ perception of their neighborhood, and measures of urban form and social attributes. Our goal in this study is to develop future guidelines for urban designers and place-makers to use in the development of more stable neighborhoods.

Keywords: Place Attachment, Stability, Walkability

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp.119-133. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.216MB).

Dr. Aliaa Elabd

PhD Candidate, College of Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

I am currently a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University, College of Design. I earned my bachelor degree in architectural engineering from Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt. I am a licensed architect in Egypt, where I have a 7-year work experience practicing architecture in both governmental and private sectors. I was awarded a fellowship from Ford Foundation to pursue my master’s degree in USA. Passionate to the field of urban design, I completed my master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of Texas at Austin in 2009. My Ph.D. research study focuses on the factors involving the invigoration of central cities neighborhoods; particularly the relationship between physical factors such as neighborhood location and green spaces, and socio-psychological factors such as place identity and place attachment and the role they both play in the stability of urban neighborhoods.

George Hallowell

Ph.D. Candidate, College of Design, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the North Carolina State University College of Design, with a research emphasis on urban and suburban morphology. My research is focused on the development of a model to understand the persistence of first-ring suburbs. I am also a registered architect with four years of teaching experience and twenty-five years of professional practice in architecture, urban design, and interiors. With a Masters of Architecture degree and a B.A. in Urban Geography, I have worked in both large and small architectural firms, including the successful operation of my own architectural office. My professional project experience includes: master planning, institutional and commercial buildings, corporate offices, ecumenical buildings, and commercial and retail interiors. I have been a project manager or architect for a number of campus master planning efforts, including a new master plan for a revitalized campus for St. Marks School of Texas. I have also been the Vice-Chair of the Seattle 2000 Planning Commission, and the Seattle Mayors Small Business Council. Finally, I maintain membership in the American Institute of Architects, NCARB, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Phi Kappa Phi Scholastic Honor Society.