Tag Archives: geodesign
In Al Gore’s latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, he points out that it took nearly all of human history–some 200,000 years–to create the first billion people. It took only 12 years to create the last billion. We currently welcome about 1.5 million people to the planet every week, mostly in developing countries.
For the first time in recorded history, more than 50% of humanity now lives in cities. By 2050, some 80% will live in cities. Urbanization is already having a profound impact on our lives, yet we have little understanding of the unintended consequences.
I’m here in Denver, Colorado for the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference (2/13-15/2014), a perfect location for an event that illustrates the importance of triple bottom line planning that addresses the environment, the economy, and the social sphere of culture, justice, and equity.
For more than ten years, Denver has been adding light rail and commuter rail to their transportation infrastructure to help reduce traffic and improve accessibility. In the last six years or so, a lot of work has been done to revitalize historic parts of downtown to increase its vibrancy and livability. New shops and trendy restaurants have moved in; planters, trees, and artwork dot the streets; and in the summer, colorfully-painted upright pianos are randomly placed along the walking mall on 16th Street, with free bus rapid transit attracting the young and old to explore and maybe play a tune. Continue reading
Jack Dangermond studied under Ian McHarg and Carl Steinitz, the combination of which took the manual overlay method of designing with nature from paper to the digital world using computers in 1969. His hope was that GIS would become a framework for modeling earth’s systems so they could be managed more sustainably. In 1995, Jack called GIS “the nervous system of the planet,” foreshadowing what I think GIS is on its way to becoming. Geodesign–an iterative design method that uses stakeholder input, geospatial modeling, impact simulations, and real-time feedback to facilitate holistic designs and smart decisions–is the natural evolution of that vision.
A city looks and feels the way it does because of human intention. Early civilizations built their settlements next to waterways, designing them to accommodate this resource accessibility and their own survival. During the beginning of the industrial revolution, cities were planned with ever-evolving rules ensuring that city streets were wide enough to accommodate the full turn of a horse and carriage. In this way, the values of the people were encoded into the very DNA of the city.
A complex built environment can be reduced to three basic elements: links along which travel can occur, nodes representing the intersections where two or more paths cross and public spaces form, and buildings where most human activities take place. The functionalities of place are all defined by rules and procedures, which make up the core design vocabulary of a place. Procedural design techniques automatically generate urban designs through predefined rules which you can change as much as needed, providing room for limitless new design possibilities. Continue reading
With the rush to urbanize, how can historic landscapes and archaeological features be preserved to maintain a sense of place? How does society plan for an ever-increasing population while maintaining open space, rural character, and economic vitality? How do communities take full advantage of improvements in technology to design or retrofit spaces and create smart, sustainable cities of the future?
These are some of the questions that will be examined at Geodesign Summit Europe, which will be held in September on an ancient fortress island in the Netherlands.
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
Thus spoke President Barack Obama in his 2nd inaugural address, to the delight of many, if not most in the scientific community. Indeed, there are many societal problems across the world that increasingly revolve around science. These include pollution and waste management, pandemics and biosecurity, access to clean air and clean drinking water, response to and recovery from natural disasters, choices among energy resources (oil and gas versus nuclear versus “alternative”), and the loss of open space in urban areas, as well as biodiversity in rural areas. And yet, there is a tension between the world of science, which is focused on discovery, and the world of policy making, which is focused on decisions.
Ferren, the chief creative officer of Applied Minds LLC, returned to Esri in January to keynote at the fourth Geodesign Summit and reiterate his first call to action and deliver another: Develop a 250-year plan for the planet enabled by geodesign to create a vision of the future.
“Geodesign combines geography and data with modeling, simulation, and visualization to tell stories and (show) the consequences of your actions,” Ferren told more than 260 architects, urban and transportation planners, GIS and design professionals, educators, and others at the most well-attended Geodesign Summit to date. He sees great potential for geodesign to ultimately help find solutions to complex problems. “It is still in the shiny object stage but it will be very important,” he said.
Dr. Stephen Ervin is as vibrant as his day of birth—Mardi Gras. Like the celebratory day itself, Ervin is animated, larger than life, and full of contagious energy. He has spent two decades working at Harvard University teaching courses, speaking at conferences, and authoring books about his passion—the intersection of computing, design, and science. “Geodesign has taken over my life,” Ervin chuckles.
The Assistant Dean for Information Technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Director of Computer Resources, and lecturer in the Department of Landscape Architecture, Ervin still somehow manages to find time to evangelize and promote the principles of geodesign in various ways around the world.
For many years, Bill Miller directed the development of Esri’s training and support infrastructure. Later as an engineer/architect, he was intimately involved in the design of Esri’s state-of-the-art corporate headquarters and conference center. Perhaps his best-known contribution to the GIS community was development of the ModelBuilder environment released as part of the ArcGIS Spatial Analyst extension. More recently, he came out of retirement to rejoin Esri and head up a new Geodesign Services effort.
Miller’s vision for the integration of geospatial technologies with the design process was long shared by a group of people that included UC Santa Barbara’s Michael Goodchild, Esri President Jack Dangermond, Harvard University’s Carl Steinitz, and a handful of others. Miller took the first step towards making this vision a reality when he assembled a small team to develop ArcSketch, a free sample extension that allowed users to quickly sketch features in ArcGIS. ArcSketch was Esri’s first small step toward what is now commonly referred to as “geodesign.”
Virtual 3D cities and geodesign in 3D are hot topics these days, and with new and upcoming technology the ability to not just view cityscapes, but do meaningful work, design, and planning around them, is increasingly becoming possible – and more portable.
While many of these developments are part of core ArcGIS (as found in ArcGlobe, ArcScene, and Esri CityEngine) they are also now becoming more broadly available via lightweight desktop and browser-based applications to knowledge workers, planners, and city managers – where many geodesign decisions get made.