Urban designers and landscape architects have begun to devote more of their practice to the creation of learning opportunities in public spaces. Very little research has been conducted, however, into how these public "learning environments" have been designed. This thesis focuses on a case study of Creekside Park's TD Environmental Trail (TDET) which surrounds Vancouver, Canada's Science World. It offers interactive exhibits and interpretative posters that explore a number of sustainability-related themes. The research here reconstructs TDET's design process through interviews with key participants as well as content analysis of planning and design documentation such as the City of Vancouver's development permits. The evidence compiled reveals how the TDET became a part of a larger urban design process undertaken between 1999 and 2013, negotiating the boundaries between the site's public and private spaces. It reduced Creekside Park's public space through creation of the gated fare-paying "Ken Spencer Science Park", and in exchange, provided improvements to the remaining space, including pedestrian and bicycle pathways, landscaping, and the TDET. This thesis studies the original and evolving intentions behind the TDET, shining light on the multiple images, forces, actors and decisions that led to the creation of its interactive exhibits and interpretative posters. In so doing, it provides first steps in evaluating Vancouver's public interactive space.
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Thesis advisor: Perl, Anthony
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