Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Brent Chamberlain


Brent Chamberlain


Keunhyun Park


James Palmer


This thesis explores a method of visual analysis that aims to create a more in-depth understanding of how individuals see and visually perceive their environment. Here we explore a geospatial tool, called Visual Magnitude, to assess road-based experiences. We aimed to provide evidence of a relationship between the tool and scenic rating preferences from a survey. The content of this thesis is split between two articles. The first article, contained in Chapter 2, focuses on optimizing the selection of viewpoints along route-based envrionments. In this study we ask the question is there an optimal sampling rate of viewpoints along a route that can increase efficency in running a visual magnitude analysis and still represent accurately represent the envrionment. We found that for visually sensitive areas, a 30-meter sampling distance produced optimal results. For other landscapes a 50-meter sampling distance poduced resonable results in both sampling points and retained raster area.

The second article, contained in Chapter 3, is an applied visual magnitude study where we use the optimal sampling distance of 30-meters to extract visual magnitude values for 15 different envrionments. These values are then compared to scenic rating values that we collected though a survey where participants saw videos of the same 15 envrionments and rated their scenic quailty. By doing this we were able to provide emperical evidence that the visual magnitude tool can be a way to predict best visual experiences within Utah.

With the results from these studies we can make suggestions to professionals on how they can better use this GIS tool. These suggestions include sampling distances for multiple envrionments and the potential for this tool to be used as a poxy when attempting to interpret how landscapes observers feel about them. This additional infromation will help planners in understanding and making decisions more informed planning decisions along roadways and surrounding areas that have the highest potential impact on observers. By using this tool planners can assess where those areas are and the amount of impact that positive or negitive planning decisions will have on observers.