Decisions of Purpose: Use of Normative and Scientific Theory in Design Research


  • Mary Myers



This paper describes a case study that correlates the scientific findings of environment behaviour research (scientific theory) and eighteenth-century English aesthetic theory (normative or art theory) in order to contribute to road design theory.The Unites States of America has over 3.9 million miles (6.2 million kilometres) of public roads that function quite well. But technical expertise and a purely scientific or engineering approach has not resulted in the creation of beautiful roads. This case study examines the design of a road acclaimed for its beauty, the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) that runs through North Carolina and Virginia. The BRP is a 469 mile (754 kilometres) motor road with an associated right of way of 800-1,000 feet (240-300 metres). Designed and built between 1934 and 1987, a picturesque landscape style was established during its earliest phase (1934-1942) and continued with little modification in the later stages. The study identified the normative theory that influenced the BRP design. It then employed data gathering and statistical testing (scientific methods) to investigate response to the design.


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How to Cite

Myers, M. (2004). Decisions of Purpose: Use of Normative and Scientific Theory in Design Research. Landscape Review, 9(1), 180–183.



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