Sites & Sight

by Cheng Ju Lee & Jonathan Chester

This project investigates ways in which view corridors open up views to landmarks that help pedestrians navigate cities

Cities with the best views and most memorable attractions were studied and collaged over the unsuccessful existing FiDi streetscape.

1. Project Overview

This project aims to increase ease of navigation in cities through providing pleasant outdoor space (as a result of reduced FAR) that offers safe places to congregate in pandemics and opens up view corridors.

Can urban responses to pandemics simultaneously assist with ease of pedestrian navigation?

What if buildings scattered across lower Manhattan could share visual connections that bring clarity to the urban experience?
Points of interest are identified as feasible existing structures for ease of navigation. New structures aim to connect visually to one another as well.

3 separate blocks in the Financial District in lower Manhattan were altered and analyzed to help determine which building types and FAR allowed for the greatest increase in pedestrian navigation clarity.

Goals and Metrics

  1. Measuring: Daylight access to the street and building facades (interior and exterior pedestrian experience), view accessibility from street level to points of interest and view accessibility from the mid-level floor of an intervention to the top of another intervention, FAR and building heights impact on blocking views
  2. Why it is being measured: In measuring this, the hope is to discover a new urban typology that accommodates high density, open space and way finding.
  3. Initial expectations and how performance is measured: - A successful outcome will balance an appropriate FAR for the context with adequate daylight access to the street level and sidewalks for pedestrians with views to points of interest and other similar developments.

What Did We Discover?

“Through the computational design model, we have identified carving setbacks and designing overhangs on buildings as the most effective way of addressing the lack of parks and views.”

Some of the cities in the world with the best view corridors at and above street level include London and Paris. This project aims to provide a similar experiential outcome while accounting for an increase in density (FAR).

Analysis Tools: Daylight Analysis on Public Space vs. Cost Efficiency vs. Visibility

Custom Tool: View Accessibility

The custom view analysis tool measures the amount specific building geometries obstruct view connections to points of interest.

Procedural Types

On each of the 3 sites, 3 building typologies are explored (overhang, carving and setback). Each of the 3 building typologies links to 4 FAR variations, outputting 12 explored geometries per site.

Design Space

The input ranges included 3 building types and 4 varying FAR values and in total, 108 unique urban design combinations.

Street widths were not considered, although those may also impact pedestrian-level view corridors and would be worth investigating in a future phase of the project.

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3. Analysis and Results

Exploring the Design Space

Results & Design Comparison

Conclusions and Next Steps

The analysis shows that out of the 3 building types tested, setbacks typically perform the highest in Scout. However, the consistent average visibility rating also suggests that a building’s context has more influence over it than does its form. This data is useful to urban planners / designers and architects alike, as it proves that individual buildings impact the urban experience, but an entire neighborhood designed under this method would have a significantly greater impact. The cost efficiency analysis tool allows for Scout to view tall slender buildings as “bad”. Without this tool, the tallest, skinniest towers would nearly always prevail.

The next step is to study the concept of setbacks, carvings and overhangs in the larger urban context.

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