Su-Yu Cheng

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Pat D. Taylor


Each individual perceives the world differently and attains knowledge in distinct ways (Rapoport 1977). With regard to perception about specific places, some individuals function as "insiders." This means their perceptions are engaged with place through daily experiences familiarizing them with the landscape. Others function as "outsiders," ¬¬unconcerned with or unaware of landscape events, thereby perceiving only the surfaces meaning of such events (Dearden 1984, Craik 1970, Bourassa 1991). One example of this dichotomy between insiders and outsiders can be found among design experts and non-experts. Design experts, such as landscape architects, architects, and planners, are directly involved with landscape aesthetics (Bourassa, 1991). Non-experts, such as local residents, are immersed in the same setting for a long period and share similar socioeconomic, educational, and occupational backgrounds to one another (Taylor and Bogdan, 1998). However, a conflict exists between experts' and non-experts' views of urban elements because design experts are used to predict their non-expert clients with their own preferences or perceptions (Bourassa 1991). In urban spaces, landmarks have distinctive spatial features of color, shape, or semantic value, help individuals orient or find their ways and enhance the legibility of spaces. Many researchers have showed that landmarks are the most distinctive urban elements and encourage design experts to improve the legibility of spaces and benefit space users by designing landmarks (Lynch 1960, Lamit, 2004, Sorrows and Hirtle 1999). However, experts and non-experts often have very different perspectives of landmarks because of the different uses, meanings, associations, and preferences attributed to such landmarks by the two groups (Herzog 2000). This research used interviews to generate data for discovering experts' and non-experts' perceptions of landmarks studied. On prepared maps, participants were asked to indicate their own landmarks and list the reasons they consider these features to be landmarks. The data were analyzed by the constant comparative method to identify respondents' perceptions. The results indicated that groups selected different landmarks, offered different reasons for their choices, and had distinct attitudes towards those landmarks. Understanding differences and similarities in the perceptions between experts and non-experts, and finding a balance, are beneficial to the future of environmental design because these experts are decision-makers in landmark design (Moughtin, OC and Tiesdel 1995, Krupat 1985). Any disparity between their perceptions of the environment and those of non-experts could cause design problems. Thus this research emphasizes the role of landmarks within urban spaces and examines differing perceptions thereof between experts and non-experts (Bourassa 1991).


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington