Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Billig, Noah

Committee Member/Reader

Jacobus, Frank

Committee Member/Second Reader

Shannon, Jeff


Urban open spaces should give back to the public, creating vital and valuable places within a city. People should want to seek out these spaces to occupy, seeing them not as useless gaps between buildings but areas with their own value and identity. To create this public demand, successful open spaces contain qualities of third places. Third places, a term coined by Ray Oldenburg, describes somewhere familiar that people choose to spend their time outside their first places (their homes) and their second places (their work). Third places bring communities closer together and are open to the public, but not all open spaces are third places. What are the qualities and elements of third places that designers can include in the creation of an open space to establish a cherished and successful component of an urban context?

The capstone examines four case studies and consists of observations and photos at each to determine how individual elements contribute to the overall qualities of third places that bring different groups of citizens together and establish a space as a valued part of the community. These four case studies are the City Pump in Rogers, AR, the Cooper Hewitt Museum’s outdoor garden space in New York, NY, the Citygarden in St. Louis, and the 8th Street Market in Bentonville, AR. The observations are compared against the writings of urban designers and theorists including William Whyte, Randolph Hester, and specifically the work of Ray Oldenburg including his constructs of third places to determine if and how their ideas are true in actual precedents. Each case study features key takeaways through written description and graphic diagramming regarding how the different elements create qualities of third places--or if they do at all. The subsequent results have a wide range of applications for the future of public space design.

The capstone culminates in the create of a catalog featuring all the case studies, their written descriptions, observations, photos, and elemental diagrams. This breadth of information is a reference for designing other successful open spaces in the future. The results may also point to new or alternative methods for the future research of public third places.

The design of open spaces is an important topic for creating more engaging and appealing cities. Without proper consideration, these areas are often uninteresting and wasted space that does little to create attraction to downtown areas. The accommodation of current public needs and desires in conjunction with design moves and decisions that have worked in the past has the potential to create a space that citizens frequently occupy and are proud of. This capstone delves deeper into understanding how such a goal is possible.


Architecture, Urban Design, Urban Planning, Interior Design