Authors: Nivan Ferreira, Marcos Lage, Harish Doraiswamy, Huy Vo, Luc Wilson, Heidi Werner, Muchan Park, Claudio Silva
Abstract: Architects working with developers and city planners typically rely on experience, precedent and data analyzed in isolation when making decisions that impact the character of a city. These decisions are critical in enabling vibrant, sustainable environments but must also negotiate a range of complex political and social forces. This requires those shaping the built environment to balance maximizing the value of a new development with its impact on the character of a neighborhood. As a result architects are focused on two issues throughout the decision making process: a) what defines the character of a neighborhood? and b) how will a new development change its neighborhood? In the first, character can be influenced by a variety of factors and understanding the interplay between diverse data sets is crucial; including safety, transportation access, school quality and access to entertainment. In the second, the impact of a new development is measured, for example, by how it impacts the view from the buildings that surround it. In this paper, we work in collaboration with architects to design Urbane, a 3-dimensional multi-resolution framework that enables a data- driven approach for decision making in the design of new urban development. This is accomplished by integrating multiple data layers and impact analysis techniques facilitating architects to explore and assess the effect of these attributes on the character and value of a neighborhood. Several of these data layers, as well as impact analysis, involve working in 3-dimensions and operating in real time. Efficient computation and visualization is accomplished through the use of techniques from computer graphics. We demonstrate the effectiveness of Urbane through a case study of development in Manhattan depicting how a data-driven understanding of the value and impact of speculative buildings can benefit the design-development process between architects, planners and developers.