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Monday, February 27, 2017

Arguing for a Science of City Design

These are slides from a presentation that argues for new tools to empower our approach to the growth of cities and the shelter they serve.


Growing populations are currently building shelter for a wide range of activities in a pathogenic pattern of sprawl that is slowly consuming agriculture and our source of life – the land of The Natural Domain.  This continues because we have not been able to accurately predict the development capacity of land given the current disorganized nature of shelter design decisions and regulation.


The challenge is to predict our capacity to shelter human activity within limited geographic areas defined to protect our quality and source of life – The Natural Domain.


(1)    Comprehensively list the shelter design categories available and their related specification topics;

(2)    Mathematically correlate specification topic relationships; and

(3)    Predict the gross building area potential of land based on the design category chosen and the values assigned to its specification topics.


Six primary design categories may be occupied by any activity group. A category forecast model includes two specification modules and a forecast panel. An activity module is added to the category specification when it is tailored to a specific activity group.


A forecast model is written to predict answers to a question based on the specification values entered. A change to one or more values produces optional answers for comparison, evaluation, and direction.


1)      How much gross building area can be constructed on a given land area?

2)      How much buildable land area is needed to accommodate a given gross building area?

Table 1 is a current list of forecast models. The Design Category Group can be occupied by any activity. The Activity Group addresses residential activity that occupies the G1 Category of buildings.

Table 2 is a sample of a completed G1 Forecast Model. It contains a Land Specification Module, a G1 Specification Module, and a Planning Forecast Panel. The values entered in the boxes of the specification modules represent design decisions that can be modified for comparison and evaluation. The implications of a mathematically correlated set of design specification decisions are presented in the Planning Forecast Panel.

Column A in the panel is a specification column of optional building heights. Columns B-E forecast the design implications of a full set of optional specification decisions. Column F forecasts shelter capacity per acre of land consumed. It is a key measurement of the land use efficiency being proposed by the design specification. When a city has a limited geographic area, the efficient allocation of shelter capacity and occupant activity determines the total revenue available to support operations, maintenance, improvement, debt service, and quality of life.

Columns G-J calculate the intensity, intrusion, and dominance implied by the shelter specification. They are quality of life measurements that will build knowledge with continued use.


1)      Gross building area predictions are relevant to real estate evaluation and private enterprise economics.

2)      The allocation of shelter capacity and activity per acre determines public revenue potential and municipal economic stability.

3)      Evaluation of the intensity, intrusion, and dominance produced by a design category specification will produce quality of life knowledge and improvement.


The solution to a problem begins with a language that can express concepts, define options, measure implications, evaluate results, and build knowledge. The argument for a science of city design[1] is an argument for a language that can begin the search for shelter solutions to the problem of symbiotic survival. Shelter solutions, however, are only one of the many essential answers required.

[1] Hosack, Walter M., The Science of City Design, CreateSpace, 2016. (Available in paperback and e-book versions from Available in paperback from CreateSpace)

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