- A Strategic urban Process: Developing a Tool for Complex Decision-Making    click here to open paper content278 kb
by    el Samahy, Rami & Rico-Gutierrez, Luis & Day, Jacob | samahy@andrew.cmu.edu   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
A studio at Carnegie Mellon examined a defunct Pittsburgh industrial site to investigate development possibilities. Using the logic of operational systems research, this case study should become a powerful tool for the planning process.
Master of Urban Design students at Carnegie Mellon University are examining a defunct
industrial site in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood to investigate possibilities for its
development. A consortium of local non-profit foundations wishing to see the site developed in
accordance with their core missions owns the land. A plethora of potential users of the site
include two universities, a hospital and spin-off companies from Carnegie Mellon’s highly
successful Robotics Department. Added to the mix is the desire for the development to be
environmentally sustainable and to invigorate the surrounding Hazelwood community, a working
class neighborhood comprised of ethnically Hungarian and African-American families, who have
come upon hard times since the demise of Pittsburgh’s steel industry. The situation is further
complicated by two massive transportation options: one, the continuation of a highway that
would essentially bisect the site, and the other, a new public rapid transportation system that
would connect the site with the main campuses of the institutions considering expansion to the
Hazelwood site.

Typically, urban designers would hold meetings with the various stakeholders to arrive at a
master plan for the site. In this case, it quickly became clear that the situation at hand was far
more complicated, as the stakeholders were numerous and no real programmatic decisions have
yet been made. In other words, the possibilities for site utilization remain wide open. Rather than
provide a single master plan, the group has created a system that maps the hundreds of various
potential decisions, to understand their causality, and to identify the various spatial implications
of each decision. Using the logic of operational systems research, they have affixed surface area
values to each possible outcome, allowing decision makers to make more informed choices with
regards to site capacity. Now in the process of collaborating with computer programmers, it is
our intention that the outcome of this case study becomes a powerful tool for the pre-
programming phase of the planning process.
Pittsburgh, post-industrial, operational systems, programming
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