GeoDesign Workflows at Philadelphia University

2015-06-12 20.24.58
Matthias and I were living the CityEngine Philadelphia Demo

If you follow either myself or Matthias on twitter you may have seen that we were ‘living it up’ in the great city of Philadelphia last week.   Home to the Liberty Bell and all sorts of reminders as to where my native land went wrong and some of its big mistakes….  

Lego Liberty Bell... it's Lego what can I say?
Lego Liberty Bell… it’s Lego what can I say?

Having said that the city seems a wonderful place and it helped our experience staying in the historic core of Philadelphia where all the good restaurants and bars are.  The food was wonderful and the people were friendly.

Reading Terminal Market
Reading Terminal Market, we will never forget you…

Enough of the travel guide!  We were there to help and support the work of students on their design charrette on Philadelphia University’s GeoDesign Masters Program.  The M.S. in GeoDesign was the first of its kind in the USA, and come to think of it probably the world. You can read more about Geodesign elsewhere but for all practical purposes it’s about collaborative workflows and coordinated iterative processes across disciplines.   It’s heavily influenced by new technologies like Esri CityEngine and has a strong supporter from Esri as well as a string of notable academics.

The GeoDesign students were working on a concentrated collaborative design project called a charrette.  This was focused on the Navy Yard, a birthplace to the USA’s Navy and where some notable battleships like the New Jersey were built.

Philadelphia Navy Yard
Philadelphia Navy Yard, not just about boats….

Garsdale Design (Matthias and I) were there to provide additional support, troubleshooting and advice on CityEngine and Geodesign workflows.  We had already provided remote assistance to elements of the course around technical aspects of CityEngine, so we were familiar with the students and the program.

As with all projects academic or ‘real-world’ collaboration in a team is critical.  In such a small amount of time the students had to focus on a design goal on chosen study areas, and come up with workflows and analytical processes to measure metrics to help them design.   They were designing using software like ArcGIS, SiteOps, AutoCAD and CityEngine and merging it into one cohesive process.   Towards the end of the week the students had focused in on achievable goals and worked out workflows that were easily repeatable and produced metrics that would help inform there design choices.   I won’t go in to detail what these all were as it is there project and is best heard directly from them when the are ready.

2015-06-13 17.28.23
Philadelphia GeoDesign Central

One clear thing came out of this charrette for me was that most software (especially CityEngine) works best with focused tasks and simplified processes.  For example when you first work with CityEngine the tendency is to think it can do many things, which it can.  But trying to combine all those tasks into one is often a mistake, keep the workflows as simple as possible is much better for everyone.

What next for Philadelphia University’s GeoDesign program and Garsdale Design?  Hopefully more collaboration on Geodesign and at least one more visit back to that wonderful city of Philadelphia.

PhilaU Ram soft toy
I got one of these each for my daughters… t’s given me nightmares