Design by GIS

Creating an Analysis Framework for Urban Design using ArcGIS

For 

PennDesign - LARP 745 - Advanced GIS Applications

Location 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Time 

Spring 2010

Expertise 

GIS, Urban Planning, Academic Research

During my last year at PennDesign I had the opportunity to undertake a some research and development as part of my coursework. I explored how I could explicitly illustrate the often imprecise (but still important) concept of "connectivity" between key nodes of activity in urban places using measureable, mappable criteria in GIS.

I developed an approach that relied on using weighted environmental suitability and constraints layers to generate a series of optimized urban connectivity maps. With those maps, I created a composite suitability map, which, when working within the design constraints of a 1,000 hectare sandbox site (borrowed from another class), directly informed where I sited and configured urban nodes and transportation corridors of increasing density and scale.

While I had urban connectivity in mind (nevermind that the images depicted here look like greenways!), the approach I used is highly adaptable. Any spatial design process that might benefit from the assimilation of a complex range of connectivity-based considerations could benefit from it. It could easily be scaled up or down, with any combination of spatial factors or weighting techniques used to generate the connectivity maps.