Lower Manhattan - 3D GIS

Through a grant from the Kaplan Foundation, the ESC developed a 3D Geographic Information System (3D GIS) to examine the adaptive-reuse potential for large amounts of vacant spaces in older office buildings that were no longer suitable for office uses (approximately 25 million square feet).

For this project, the ESC pioneered the development of 3D Geographic Information Systems (GIS), by spatially referencing an Oracle database to a floor-by-floor 3D model of every building in Lower Manhattan.  This enabled the ESC to capture, query and visualize data in a way that traditional land-use and zoning maps fail to do.  The model is linked to statistical information on zoning, census, infrastructure, building construction, building age, total floor area, floor sizes, number of independent elevator banks, historic preservation, and vacancy rates.  The image above illustrates pre-war office space that is primarily vacant, floor by floor above 150 feet from the street, which makes these spaces suitable for adaptive reuse as housing.  The value of the model is threefold: 1) understanding the probability of adaptive re-use in an area and whether it achieved a critical mass for services and subway stations to be opened in the evening; 2) identification of the potential to reuse the older skyscrapers by matching potential uses with the physical characteristics of a building; and 3.) visualization of  the implications of policies and decisions on all of Lower Manhattan. 

The ESC was active in post-9/11 efforts, providing the 3D model to various groups including New York/New Visions and the NYC Dept. of City Planning.