Imagine you're a city planner and that you're in charge of reintroducing cars in your downtown area after an absence of 20 years. How would you measure the impact on pedestrians or downtown stores? How would you evaluate the coexistence between a light rail rapid transit system and private cars? If you lived in Buffalo, New York, you could use a computer visualization software developed at the University at Buffalo. This software has even been demonstrated to the general public. So as a city planner, it seems your task would be easier. But read more...
Before going further, here is some background about downtown Buffalo.
The visualization capabilities of the Center for Computational Research (CCR) at the University at Buffalo is providing city residents with a multi-faceted, interactive, real-time visualization of what activity on Main Street in downtown Buffalo would be like if vehicular traffic returns after an absence of more than 20 years.
Vehicular traffic was eliminated from approximately 11 blocks of Main Street in the heart of downtown Buffalo with the creation of a light rail rapid transit system and a pedestrian mall.
But now, in an effort to revitalizing commerce on downtown, the City of Buffalo wants the cars back. Of course, it would have an impact on all the people living and working there. ANd this is not so easy to measure.
Below are two images showing how downtown Buffalo would look if this reintroduction of cars was accepted. The first one is a traditional architectural drawing (Credit: City of Buffalo).
And below is a computer simulation of what could happen (Credit:University at Buffalo). Here is a link to a larger version.
So how was done this computer simulation? The answers have been given during the "Cars Sharing Main Street" event.
CCR urban visualization and simulation specialists Martins Innus, Adam Koniak and Adrian Levesque, who developed the simulation, demonstrated the "Cars Sharing Main Street" visualization for the public at an open house in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center.
The extremely detailed visualizations virtually "immerse" spectators in the traffic data so that they can "experience" the traffic as if they were standing on a street corner, riding on a Metro train or driving along Main Street. Merchants will be able to view the flow of automobile and pedestrian traffic from the perspective of their storefronts.
Does this mean that computer simulation specialists are killing architects? Not so fast. First, the computer modeling still takes time and money. But when it's done, it's easier to modify than a sketch.
And remember that automotive stylists only use pencils and paper to design new cars -- before sending their ideas to computer scientists...
Sources: University at Buffalo news release, August 8, 2006; and various web sites
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