This paper presents an empirical study of espert and non expert responses to examples of new buildings in contextually sensitive settings. A total of 73 nonexpert (lay) respondents and 24 deisng review commissioners were interviewed. All respondents were asked to comment on the contextual fit of 25 urban inf ill buildings simulated through color photos. Analysis of the interview data reveal a high degree of consistency between the experts and non experts in their judgments of the contextual relationships. However, the findings also reveal important and significant differences between the groups in: 1) the frequency with which they construed the urban scene according to the issue of compatibility, and 2) the manner in which they conceptualized the concept of compatibility.