Andres Sevsuk, CGBC Faculty Advisor and Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, will present at the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis’ “Harvard Geography Colloquium.” This event hosts leading geospatial researchers who present cutting edge geographic research in a seminar format. The goal is to provide the Harvard community with a forum to highlight the unique perspectives, findings, and directions of contemporary geography. The event will take place from noon – 1:30 on Thursday, November 2 in room S354, CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge St. Lunch will be served.
Urban design and urban analytics have emerged as equally important, but separate fields of scholarship. Those concerned with design, work with a forward-looking epistemology, assessing ideas based on their normative merits in an uncertain future. Those who work in urban analytics, use social, natural and computer science methods to explain urban phenomena as they are now or as they were in the past. The difference between forward- versus backward-looking orientation has kept the disciplines apart and created a methodological as well as practical divide, whereby good urban analytics do not necessarily lead to good urban design, nor does good urban design require good urban analytics. Investigating this divide, I explore how the domains of design and analysis can be better integrated in an exploratory design process, using two projects as examples. The projects include a planned integration of light rail stations in Surabaya with the surrounding urban fabric with the aim of supporting higher ridership, and a planned placement and sizing of community retail and service clusters into newly designed large-scale public housing environments in Singapore. In both cases, an iterative design – analysis process required a) that normative goals be determined for assessing design outcomes, b) that well-defined measurement techniques be adopted to evaluate how closely the goals are achieved in each design scenario and c) that numerous design scenarios be generated and tested via computerized simulations. To generalize the processes, their pros and cons, I discuss which types of urban design problems an integrated design-analysis approach is suitable for and what this could mean for urban analytics curricula in urban planning degree programs.