Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE)

Post-Occupancy Evaluations (POEs) are performed after a project has been built to see whether the space is having the desired outcome.

For example, if a garden was designed for people with Alzheimer’s, is it helping to alleviate stress? Is it safe? Does it keep people from getting lost when they are outside in the garden? Does it help to foster connection between users of the garden?

A POE can help to determine:
   a) Whether a space is working the way it was intended to;
   b) If the space is working in ways not expected or intended; and
   c) If the space is not working or should be changed in specific ways.

More about POEs coming soon! Have a suggestion or comment? Contact us.

Published chapters, articles and other references:

Cooper Marcus, Clare (2008). “Why Don’t Landscape Architects Perform More POEs?” Landscape Architecture, Letter to the Editor, Vol. 98, No. 3, March, 2008, p. 16-18.

Cooper Marcus, Clare (2006). “Post Occupancy Evaluation.” in Landscape Architectural Graphic Standards, (Ed.) Len Hopper, New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Cooper Marcus, Clare and Carolyn Francis (1998). “Post-Occupancy Evaluation.” Chapter 8 in People Places: Design Guidelines for Urban Open Space. 2nd ed., New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Moore, Robin C. (2008). “Reasons to Smile at Teardrop.” Landscape Architecture Magazine, Vol. 97, No. 12, pp. 134-136. “Project for Public Spaces banished it to its Hall of Shame, but a postoccupancy evaluation [POE] study suggests that New Yorkers are embracing Teardrop Park.”

Post-occupancy Evaluation of Healing Gardens in a Pediatric Cancer Center.” Sandra A. Sherman, James W. Varni, Roger S. Ulrich, and Vanessa L. Malcarne
This study evaluates three healing gardens surrounding a pediatric cancer center. All gardens contained seating, flowers and plants, but varied in size, features, and in user groups’ access to them. A post-occupancy evaluation (POE) yielded a dataset of 1400 garden-users for whom demographic information, activities, and length-of-stay were recorded. Results indicate differential usage patterns across gardens, user category (patient, visitor, or staff), and age (adults and children). The largest garden with most direct patient access was the most used. Staff mostly used the gardens to walk-through or to sit and eat, rarely interacting with features intended for active engagement. Despite patient and child-friendly designs, the overwhelming majority of visitors were adults who mostly engaged in sedentary activities. Children who did use the gardens interacted with garden features significantly more than adults. Although patient rooms are situated at ground-level around the gardens to promote window views of the gardens, the findings suggest an inverse relationship between patient window use and the number of people in the gardens. Finally, preliminary data suggest that emotional distress and pain are lower for all groups when in the gardens than when inside the hospital. Provisional design implications of these findings are discussed.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Therapeutic Gardens in a Multi-Level Care Facility for the Aged,” Yuko Heath and Robert Gifford.
A post-occupancy evaluation of eight therapeutic gardens at a multi-level care facility was conducted. Staff, volunteers, and families of residents were surveyed, and residents were interviewed. Of the 190 participants, 96.5% either strongly liked or liked the gardens. More than 80% believed that four of the five overall design goals of the gardens were achieved. However, participants’ evaluations of specific garden features varied, and staff members were more critical than others. About 75% said the money to build the gardens was well-spent. About 20% of users offered extra comments. Implications for the planning of therapeutic gardens are discussed.

Nature is to Nurture: A Post Occupancy Evaluation of the St. Michael Health Care Center in Texarcana, TX Leigh LaFargue, B.M.E., Louisiana State University, 1999, December 2004. MLA Thesis, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Shepley, Mardelle McCuskey and Peni Wilson (1999). “Designing for Persons with AIDS: A Post-Occupancy Study at the Bailey-Boushay House.” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring, pp. 17-32.

Sherman, Sandra A., James W. Varni, Roger S. Ulrich, Vanessa L. Malcarne (2004). “Post-occupancy evaluation of healing gardens in a pediatric cancer center.” Landscape and Urban Planning.
This article can be purchased at ScienceDirect

Watkins, Nicholas (2008). “Lost in Translation: Bridging Gaps Between Design and Evidence-Based Design.” Health Environments Research & Design (HERD), Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 39-46.
In this article, Watkins proposes the term “facility evaluation” rather than post-occupancy evaluation, since facility evaluation can be performed at any time, not just after the building has been occupied (p. 44). Because guidelines for POEs are so specific, this may be a better term in general for evaluation of built works.