The impact of 3D modeling function usage on the design content of urban design plans in US cities
Some experts suggest that urban design plans in US cities may lack adequate coverage of the essential design aspects of the built environment. Digital models and information technology tools may help designers to visualize and interact with design alternatives and large urban datasets more effectively, thus correcting this problem. Case studies of recent urban design plans that have used digital models may indicate whether these technologies can increase the quality of the plan. This research discusses the role that digital models can play in supporting designers in addressing the essential design aspects. A literature review focused on reviewing secondary sources is used to construct theoretical propositions against which the empirical data can be compared and contrasted. A case study investigates the extents and methods with which modeling functions have been used in developing a selected urban design plan. The findings refute the premise that the plan would inadequately address essential design aspects, and indicate both an effective usage and application of modeling functions in the design process to analyze and represent the urban design aspects. The extent of design aspect coverage is found to be linked to the extensive usage of modeling functions and to the combination of computational and conventional tools, techniques, and modes of presentation. The results are consistent with the research hypothesis that the usage of modeling functions would increase the design content. The effective usage of the modeling functions appears to have improved the quality of the decision-making process by increasing designers’ cognitive and communication capabilities and providing a platform for communicating design ideas among and across design teams that lead to wider involvement in the decision making.
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