Building 'Code': A Spatial Ethology

by Marshall Prado (MDes ’12)

This research is a study of urban agents in the built environment. More specifically, it is the analysis of space in which buildings occupy or will potentially occupy as a measure of encoded information. This spatial code reflects the impact of building form on the surrounding environment as well as the environmental or socio-cultural behavior of urban space. Information of this type forms the basis for the re- codification of our built environments.

As a case study for this process, the zoning and block codes for the city of New York were used as a testing ground. While the process is not site specific and could be applied universally to many locations, Prado focused on the site of the Hudson Yards development project, which enabled him to compare his process to multiple previous design proposals and the existing context of the city. The city’s history of zoning practices and the resulting building morphology formed the control for the comparison of new coding techniques. With a rapidly growing population and the increased urbanization of the planet, Prado argues there is good reason for the study of performative densification. The purpose of this project was to establish computational techniques for spatial analysis that will promote performative urban density without sacrificing “universal necessities of life.”