The three-year project will look at eight case studies of improvements to public spaces and assess their local and regional impacts.
The consultancies will be looking at the quality of design along with changes to business type attracted to the area, rent levels, footfall, house prices and visitor and wider area perception.
Colin Buchanan associate Angela Koch explained that public realm improvements will be the focus of the study. But some building improvements such as the Sevenstories Centre for Children's Books in Newcastle will be included.
The research has been commissioned by regional development agency One North East to ensure that it has better knowledge about what types of good design bring positive benefits.
This will help the agency to make strategic decisions on future improvements to the quality of place, Koch added. Interim findings will be presented in the spring.