GeoDesign Summit Illustrates Breadth of Projects

The fact that many GIS professionals, architects and academics are "thinking" about the design aspect of project planning before beginning a project is in itself recognition that geodesign has established itself as an effective tool for modeling, visualization and collaboration.

During the second day of presentations many of the keynoters mentioned that they have been doing "geodesign" for many years. So is it that new after all? What's probably more important for people to understand is that geodesign is becoming a discipline and educators are thinking about teaching "design" to obtain efficiencies and measure success. In this conference, geodesign is a multidisciplinary process and that was illustrated many times over during the presentations of the second day.

Paul Zwick of the University of Florida talked about "disjointed incrementalism - geography changed by institutional happenstance." In short, Zwick railed against the lack of long range planning by urban develpers that resulted in conditions with unintended consequenses. He is a proponent of geodesign for regional planning and suitability analysis that will mitigate environmental conflict. Zwick discussed the LUCIS Model project for regional planning in Central Florida.

Keith Besserud of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), discussed how best to "accelerate the process of designer intuition" and "connecting a system of systems." He provided some excellent videos of work done by clients that used parametric modeling and an animated model of the growth of cities over time based on the relative "happiness" of building juxtaposed to each other.

Lilian Pintea of the Jane Goodall Institute demonstrated how it was necessary to understand the environmental factors that were impacting forest cover and water runoff both inside the Gombe Research Centre confines and outside. Deforestation was impacting chimpanzee habitat and water runnoff models using remote sensing data played an significant role in communicating the problems of the loss of trees to the local villages.

Jan Halatsch of ETH Zurich was using design patterns for 3D city models for the City of Zurich. He commented that in a high density area there was not much land available and it was important to consider high density use in the geodesign process.

Robert Matthews of the Decision Commons was working under a HUD sustainable communities grant to look back at how the light rail system for the Puget Sound area planned 2008 would have benefitted from a geodesign framework. He's now working to make information for future projects such as the rail system to be available in real-time, all the time.

John Danahy of the University of Toronto is teaching landscape architects to interact with the community using geodesign and to champion "spatial literacy." His mission is to connect urban design with performance models. In areas of Toronto, many people are using the urban landscape  recreation, which was once an area in the 1900's that was a business district. He was asking the question of how do you retrofit these urban areas and understand changing spatial patterns for a different highest and best use.

Alison Bramlet of the University of Georgia is engaged in The Greenprints Project to create a comprehensive park, trail and open space aster plan for Woodstock, Georgia. Her project too nine months to that used "goal maps" with the purpose of identifying areas to improve air and water quality, for example. The result was to create composite conservation priorities maps so that politicians can review the options.

Disclosure: Esri funded part of the travel expenses related to covering the GeoDesign Summit.

Published Monday, January 9th, 2012

Written by Joe Francica

Published in

Esri Technology

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