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PROJECT PROFILE: Multi-Sensory Virtual Reality in Participatory Planning
Re-visioning Glassboro Arts and Entertainment Districts 

Many tech-savvy urban planners and e-governments use a range of digital technology-based tools—such as participatory geographic information systems (GIS) and immersive virtual reality (IVR)—to better predict the social impact of future development scenarios. A few researchers have incorporated multisensory variables of the environment, such as acoustic and visual parameters, to enhance the IVR technology; however, further research is needed to experiment with other types of sensory variables and to examine the impact of such enhanced IVR technology in the "participatory planning" process. This project will integrate multi-sensory experiences (e.g., sight, sound, smell) with the IVR technology, with a specific focus on "smell", which has been the least studied parameter. We ask the following research questions: Does IVR technology coupled with multi-sensorial parameters (i) increase the level of public participation and (ii) promote a better understanding of a simulated urban environment? Does this technology have an advantage over other commonly used methods and tools used in the participatory planning process? Can we measure these benefits? 

Project Team
  • Mahbubur Meenar, PhD, Principal Investigator

  • Megan Bucknum, Investigator

  • Jennifer Kitson, PhD, Investigator

  • George Lecakes, PhD Candidate

  • Cassie Shugart, Student Assistant


Project Partners

Joseph Brigandi Jr, Administrator/ Executive Director—Economic Development, Glassboro Borough 

Lavon Philips, DirectorPublic Relations and Business, Glassboro Borough  

Melanie Stewart, Associate Dean and ProfessorCollege of Performing Arts, Rowan University

Academic Partners - Rowan University Geography, Planning, and Sustainability Department (Courses: Community Planning and Site Design—Professor Meenar; Urban Geography—Professor Kitson; Foundation of Planning and Environmental Design—Professor Bucknum)

This project is partially funded by Rowan University SEED Grant, 2017-2018.

Any questions? Please send an email to

Project Area

The project area includes significant portion of Glassboro Arts and Entertainment District boundaries (proposed in the Borough master plan). Actual project boundary will be delineated after the first community meeting—a visioning exercise event to be held in late January 2018. 

Project Tasks
Prioritization of Goals for Future Scenarios

—Community visioning exercise, data analysis, field observation (see photos)

—Goals for urban design scenario development

3D/4D Scenario Development
—Urban design proposals of future scenarios

—3D visualization of scenarios

—Virtual reality simulation of 3D/4D scenarios

Public Perception of 3D/4D Scenarios 

—Four focus groups (municipal officials, planners, residents, stakeholders)

—Pre- and post-event surveys/questionnaire + analysis

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