Department of Housing and Urban Development


After reading an Architect article on the integration of GIS and information modeling work currently being done by a Berkley Professor, Nicholas de Monchaux, I was delighted to see that SPUR was hosting a discussion with him highlighting his most recent research done on the city of San Francisco.  The lecture, held yesterday, titled Local Code: Mapping and transforming the city’s forgotten public space was a fantastic look into how GIS technology is being used to question relevent large-scale issues within the context of city planning.  A short film discussing the lecture can be found on Monchaux’s website.  The proposal took all public spaces in San Francisco, owned by the city yet not maintained. For example right-of-ways and certain vacant interstitial lots (such as under highways and alleys).  In specific industrial areas, streets are 100 feet wide, where once the turning radius for an 18-wheeler dominated its width. This thinking is antiquated and an inefficient use of  ‘valuable’ real estate.  With this in mind, Monchaux devised a network that took all of these remnant ‘lots’, which combined is approximately the size of Golden Gate Park – 529 acres.  After an extensive study of the urban conditions of San Francisco, concluded that these remnant parcels were in areas of the city in need of a safe and healthy environment.  His suggestion to create an ecological, topologically pervious network with these parcels, that will improve community safety and air quality thereby reducing storm water collection and purification (saving the state money), creates an exciting discussion for both citizens and civic leaders.   As an individual always interested in the ‘left-over’ or the residual, the notion that a complex mapping system could inform the  social, cultural, political and economic fabric of cities is exciting!  It provides a framework | open source network that will provide an identifiable view of interrelated layers, one that will make us better and wiser designers.  Although currently used in other ways, this geodesign approach will garner the attention of city officials, planners and architects for years to come.  It will undoubtedly help in my advocacy and research to network or Master Plan the US.

Please join UN-Habitat and the Obama Administration in identifying key strategies on how we should PLAN YOUR URBAN FUTURE!

World Habitat Day will be held in Washington, DC on October 5th this year with the theme, Plan Your Urban Future. In order to prepare critical questions and dialogue regarding international cities, UN-HABITAT asks you to Plan Your City, by taking a survey. This is a FANTASTIC opportunity to voice your opinion about how your city can improve. As an advocate for Spatial Planning in the US, I am hoping my comments encourage dialogue on the improvement in how we approach planning here in the US. What are you proposing?