City Model Project

This research and design
design initiative through BatesForum’s Design Core Council is an experimental processing and visualization tool, resulting in a highly-detailed, multi-media city model. The project utilizes publicly-sourced geo-spatial information and through processing, translates multidimensional data into spatial information and physical form. The model is modular, can tile globally, and can be replicated or replaced through rapid prototyping.

The model’s three-dimensional form is synthesized from LIDAR data, collected by the USGS. The data is processed and supplemented with additional information in GIS, refined as a digital object in Rhino, and built with a 3D printer. Projected graphics contain both historical, near-present, and live information, collected by BatesForum, the City of St. Louis, East-West Gateway, Washington University in St. Louis, Snapchat and Google. This data can be updated, amended, and replaced through a repeatable process as needed. Selected geospatial information is translated and refined in GIS, preliminary static graphics are created in Adobe Illustrator and the final moving graphic overlays are created through Adobe After Effects.

The model’s intent is to visualize information easily and coherently in a three-dimensional space. This lends further clarity and purpose to the design decisions BatesForum makes, which would otherwise be less clear rendered as a two-dimensional graphic. The model showcases the firm’s ability to stay current in contemporary model making as well as geospatial information retrieval and processing. The model permits an interactive and collaborative approach to information sharing and creation, within the firm, and with current and prospective clients.

The selected area shown in this proof of concept is a portion of downtown St. Louis. Here, we see the current condition of the area. The highly-detailed LIDAR information is rendered visible and physical through the articulated ground-plane, evidenced especially through the highways, trees, cars, and complex geometries of America’s Center, Enterprise Center, and Busch Stadium as well as the Arch Grounds Renovation. This topographical clarity is unmatched by two-dimensional graphic information or other forms of ground plane information such as Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) created by the USGS.

Projection is twofold, both the method and the medium. We are able to speculate the future, perceive the present, and understand the past through the use of projection mapping. Overlays inform of unseen networks, translated economies, historiographies (written history – spatially represented), and potential (anti/re-) development. This information provides content and context, to and for our design decision making process.

This model therefore serves as another tool in our growing arsenal for designing conscientiously in our situated locale.

Design Lead:
Frank Hu

Design Team:
Kekeli Dawes
Jared Heizerling
Rory Thibault

Research Lead:
Rory Thibault