Participatory Design &
Public Parks

SKILLS: Design Research Methods, Stakeholder Interviewing

BACKGROUND: This project, culminating in a research proposal, explored a participatory approach to park programming through the lens of Raleigh's Dorothea Dix Park.

The project proceeded through three phases:

A literature review,

which examined studies involving usership needs and usership metrics, as well as past attempts to incorporate participatory design into parks design, and pitfalls of the design method.

An observation period, during which I developed an observation sheet, undertook a number of observation periods at the park, and discussed future considerations for usership measurement through observation.

An interview, during which I spoke with one of the park's current project managers for the ongoing development project. This helped form a more thorough picture of the multiple forces at play in understanding usership needs.

The final study plan proposed a method of participant recruitment, appropriate times and ways in which to measure usership of the park before, during, and after stages of the study, and methods for community feedback.

The proposal suggests a series of participatory design workshops culminating in information on community member needs, priorities, and interests for park programming.

Park usership would then be measured before a given event, during, and after, and usership and feedback evaluated to determine whether participatory design might affect park usership or program satisfaction.