Architecture and Planning ETDs


Richard McRae

Publication Date



This thesis begins with the assumption that environment and human behavior are two interacting components of any milieu. It is suggested that the social sciences (particularly psychology and sociology) have researched many of the relationships between environment and behavior, but primarily from a behavioral or social perspective. This thesis suggests that environmental design requires concepts of environment which relate to behavior, rather than concepts of behavior which relate to environment.

The major purpose of this thesis has been to translate behavioral data into environmental concepts which can be used by designers as design tools. Following the methodology outlined by Glaser and Strauss in The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, categories of data were accumulated and developed. The concept of "involver and facilitator environments" was the major result, though other incomplete categories were also discussed. Facilitator environments were defined as normative environments which employ common physical characteristics (of form, space, color, texture, etc.). Involver environments were defined as norm violating environments which evidence deviation from usual physical characteristics.

From the research on which these concepts were based, compatible behavior for each environmental type was spelled out. Users of facilitator environments were expected to maintain their pre-existing interests in goal achievement, were expected to circulate at high speeds, were expected to be cognitively aware of the environment only when it failed to support goal achievement, and then, primarily to evaluate the environment with regard to its fitness for purpose. Users of involver environments were expected to explore the environment, to circulate slowly, to evidence high cognitive awareness of the environment, and to evaluate it in terms of the affect it arouses in the user.

A study was designed to test the expected behavioral differences between users of the two types of environmental settings. Two Albuquerque, New Mexico, branch libraries were used, one evidencing normative physical properties (the facilitator), and one evidencing many norm violations (the involver).

Users of the facilitator were expected (more frequently than involver users) to take a car to the library, to come from greater distances, to spend a short time, to know the material they wanted was available, to give specific reasons for corning, to report specific uses of the library, to report only one use, to describe the building's fitness for purpose, and to identify the building as a facilitator. Users of the involver were expected (more frequently than facilitator users) to walk to the library, to come from short distances, to spend a long time, to not know if wanted material was available, to give non-specific reasons for coming, to report non-specific uses of the library, to report more than one use, to describe the building with regard to affect arousal, and to identify the building as an involver.

The results of this study were in the expected direction for all measures of user behavior listed above except "time spent in library." For this measure, no difference was found. The differences found in choice of descriptive adjectives were statistically significant. The results of the study supported the involver-facilitator concept, but were inconclusive.

Use of the involver-facilitator concept as a design tool was discussed, the need for further research was pointed out, and possible research procedures were explored.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Don Paul Schlegel

Second Committee Member

Michel Louis Roger Pillet

Third Committee Member


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