Services: Planning & Urban Design

The Environmental Simulation Center has unparalleled experience in providing place- and performance-based planning and urban design services. Our approach is predicated on the recognition of cities as complex self-adapting and self-organizing systems. The constantly changing environments and perceptions inherent in such systems render traditional planning and design techniques more reactive than proactive. To be truly place-based, plans and designs should, in theory, be able to adapt to the dynamic nature of cities; but due to the enormous amount of information required and the difficultly of tracking multiple variables, planning, by necessity, has tended to be static and non-place-specific.

New and developing information technologies are changing the practice of planning and urban design for the better by enabling design and decision-making in an information-rich, interactive computing environment. Change can be anticipated and accounted for as it occurs, making for plans, guidelines, and policies that are self-adapting, self-organizing, and unique – just like the places they are designed to manage. The ESC is both a pioneer and a recognized leader in the application of Information Technologies to design and planning projects, and continues to develop decision-making techniques and applications that enable planning and development decision-making to be informed, targeted, place-based, and "just in time"

Featured Projects

  • The ESC proposed a special-management zoning district to create a high-density, mixed-use, 24/7 community that capitalizes on the significant transportation infrastructure that is already in place in Long Island City. The proposal meets the needs of both development and community interests.

  • Extensive community involvement included four public meetings and workshops, and over 100 smaller visioning meetings. This CDP is the first one for the County of Hawaii and will serve as a model for the rest of the island.

  • Under a grant from the Transportation and Community and System Preservation (TCSP) the City of Houston engaged the ESC to develop a land development model and performance tracking system to monitor growth along the City's Main Street Corridor.

  • The ESC collaborated with ACP Planning and Visioning to develop alternative growth scenarios and a vision plan for the southwest area of Santa Fe -- an area that has been developing with a scale and character at odds with the rest of the community.