CRP Students Win Planning Gaming Contest

Work by Kushan Dave and Nicolas Grefenstette

L.E.S. is More by Kushan Dave and Nicolas Grefenstette explores the impact of the transfer of development rights on Manhattan's Lower East Side. rendering / provided

March 18, 2015

Planning graduate students Kushan Dave (M.R.P. '15) and Nicolas Grefenstette (M.R.P. / M.L.A. '16) are the winners of the Tygron Student Contest, a competition that challenged student planners to build their own "Serious Game," or spatial tasking prototype, using Tygron 3D technology in the Tygron Engine.

Tygron, which was founded in 2005 as a spinoff from the Delft University of Technology, created their Serious Games to allow stakeholders to experiment, plan, and negotiate better solutions for city designs and development projects.

Dave and Grefenstette's submission was based on work they developed in the AAP NYC fall 2014 Urban Design Studio, taught by visiting faculty Adam Lubinsky, Claire Weisz, and Jacob Dugopolski of WXY Architecture and Urban Design. The studio examined the critical challenges facing public housing in New York City, and focused on new approaches to engagement processes that would integrate urban design, planning, and real estate economics. The studio worked closely with Tygron, and students formed teams to create a multi-player engagement tool that would allow different perspectives to be considered.

Titled L.E.S. is More, Dave and Grefenstette's project explored the impact of the transfer of development rights (TDR) in the Lower East Side in Manhattan. L.E.S. is More focused on policy approaches that would allow the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to raise revenues in order to repair buildings and address residents' needs.

"We wanted to see how we could use the software in a different way," says Grefenstette. "Traditionally, it's used to explore trade-off relationships or spark conversations over ownership and zoning. Our project allows the user of the software to explore use of the available air rights from NYCHA properties, and leverage their sale to promote market rate and affordable development in the Lower East Side."

"Our project also allowed for use of the revenue generated by TDR sales to offset NYCHA's outstanding maintenance issues that can help reduce its operating deficit," says Dave.

"This innovative approach has never been used as a way of supporting affordable housing," says Lubinsky. "I was impressed by [Dave and Grefenstette's] use of the Tygron game in terms of capturing a wide set of issues that could be seen and discussed in parallel with each other. Several architects, planners and city officials who reviewed their work were impressed by their ability to show the key trade-offs involved through the Tygron platform."

Dave and Grefenstette were awarded a €1,000 prize.

By Rebecca Bowes

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