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Title: The Line of Grace : principles of road aesthetics in design of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Author: Myers, Mary Elizabeth
Awarding Body: Heriot-Watt University
Current Institution: Heriot-Watt University
Date of Award: 2003
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The Blue Ridge Parkway, NC and VA (1934-87) is considered to be one of America's most beautiful roads. However, very little is known about the origins of its physical design or of public response to it. The hypothesis of the research is that the design of the BRP is based upon the eighteenth century aesthetic theory of William Hogarth and Edmund Burke. Hogarth's concept of the serpentine "Line of Grace" and Burke's theory that beauty is connected with emotion and motion are reviewed in conjunction with the BRP design. Qualitative and quantitative methods were used to research the hypothesis. Qualitative methods included secondary and primary sources, including elite interviews of persons associated with the early design of the BRP and archival research of design documents and memoranda. Quantitative methods included a pilot and public survey to determine if current public experience of the parkway is consistent with Hogarth's and Burke's theories. Results indicated that the BRP appears to embody many of the aesthetic principles of Hogarth and Burke. The motor road's spiral curves express the three dimensional characteristics of Hogarth's serpentine "Line of Grace ". The parkway landscape reflects the principles of variety espoused by Hogarth and Burke. A direct link to Hogarth and Burke was not found -that is the BRP was not consciously designed according to their theories. However, links to the eighteenth century theories were found in the designers' education and apprenticeship. Survey results indicate that public response to the BRP design is very positive. The public response particularly supported Burke's concept that a feeling of calmness, or relaxation, is associated with positive perception of landscape scenery.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available