Image of Perceptual Form of the City Perceptual Form of the City
Maps for the Perceptual Form of the City Study, Architecture and Planning Graduate Students, 1954, 1960

From 1954 to 1960, Professors Kevin Lynch and Gyorgy Kepes led “Perceptual Form of the City,” a research project studying human perceptions of the urban landscape and how those perceptions should influence city planning. As part of the study, MIT students were asked to draw maps of the City of Boston. The maps on exhibit collate data from individual students’ maps and show how frequently certain features of the city appeared.

In addition to their work with students, MIT researchers for “Perceptual Form of the City” went into Boston to investigate citizens’ mental maps, asking passersby questions such as, “How do I get to the Public Garden?” This research helped Lynch form his early theories of city planning, published in 1960 by the MIT Press in The Image of the City. Considered at the time of its publication to be the most important work in the field for over 150 years, The Image of the City is a classic in planning literature and an exposition of Lynch’s views of what the form of a city can mean to its citizens.

“Perceptual Form of the City”
Maps
MIT Architecture and Planning Graduate Students
1954, 1960
On loan from the Institute Archives and Special Collections.
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