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Digital Modelling for Urban Design by Brian McGrath

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Chapter 4

Trade

Between the years 1997 and 2003, when 25 million square feet of office space in New York's financial district was vacant, the Skyscraper Museum was founded and began exhibitions and public programmes in temporary spaces in vacated banking halls. During the last summer of the millennium, 3-D modeller and web designer Mark Watkins, assistants Akiko Hattori and Lucy Lai Wong, and I spent 18 days in the ground-floor retail space at 110 Maiden Lane, working on a 3-D computer model mapping the formation and deformation of Manhattan's skyscraper business districts through time. The public was invited in to witness our intensive modelling activity, in order to make this publicly funded project as accessible and informative as possible. The contributors to this open-source process included tourists, bankers, city planners, architects, students and passers-by, whom we engaged in a discussion on history, city planning, real estate markets, skyscrapers, mapping, visual communication, animation and digital technologies. The result of this exercise in participatory design, the website Manhattan Timeformations, will be presented in this section as a prototype and model for developing new urban design practices through creating multi-dimensional interfaces - both physical and virtual.1

Since going online, a variety of audiences, individuals and institutions representing different disciplines and interests have ‘mistaken’ Manhattan Timeformations for a number of things - including ...

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