TUTORIAL
 
Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
An introduction to mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.
   
About

This course provides an introduction to mapping theory and geographic information systems tools. Through the use of open-source GIS software (qGIS) and open data (OpenStreetMap) students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation. In this course, students will work through a series of web tutorials and hands-on in-class exercises to gain a better understanding of how these tools and data can be leveraged to analyze, represent and study past or present urban phenomena. In addition to using existing data, students will also be able to create or bring their own sets of data and questions from other courses and will be able to work with these in our class.

No prior experience in mapping, design or data analysis is required for this course. The course is open students in GSAPP and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and others by permission.

The full syllabus is available here. 

General Topics
  • Basic mapping concepts and techniques
  • Data types
  • Census data
  • Metadata
  • Data creation
  • Geocoding
  • Georeferencing
  • Vector and raster data
  • Webmapping and crowdsourced data
Spring 2016

The Spring of 2016 iteration of this course had twenty one students from seventeen different departments across the University. 

Fall 2016

This course will be offered again in the Fall 2016 semester with course number A4122.

NYRP - The Haven Project
Analysis of New York City neighborhoods according to specific health, demographic and environmental metrics.
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New York Restoration Project (NYRP) is developing a master plan to renovate a network of open spaces in Mott Haven and Port Morris in the South Bronx. Over the next several years, NYRP will fund the renovations and build them. The project aims to demonstrate measurable health and social outcomes resulting from an improved physical environment at the neighborhood scale. For example, one hypothesis is that by improving access to Randall’s Island, residents’ physical activity will increase with a correlative decrease in health care costs. As a first step, we will capture baseline health data and quality of life indicators which we will track as the project progresses.

This project includes maps and charts that analyze and compare different parts of New York City according to specific health, demographic and environmental metrics. 

We used three types of measurements:

  • Environmental, which include tree and grass coverage, pollution levels (PM 2.5) and walking distance to recreational spaces measuring 6 acres or more.
  • Health, including asthma rates, self-reported exercise in the previous 30 days, and overweight percentages.
  • Demographics, which include percentage of the population living below the poverty line, percentage of the population younger than 18 and 65 or older, and percentage of the population having attained only high-school or less.

Pollution levels (P.M. 2.5)

Percentage of grass and tree coverage

Walking distance to large open spaces

Percentage of people who have had asthma

Percentage of the population with only high-school level education or less

Project Team
Name Project Role
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Change By Design
Jun 25, 2012 — Spatial Information Design Lab

We live in a data-rich world. But to drive lasting social change, data must be transformed and communicated to influencers and decision-makers in compelling, new ways. In a daylong conference on June 30, 2012 the Ford Foundation brought together leaders in design, social innovation, art and journalism to think creatively about digital storytelling and cutting-edge tools to visualize, map and create narratives that inspire action.

See more here: https://www.fordfoundation.org/the-latest/ford-live-events/change-by-des...

Watch Laura Kurgan's talk here: https://www.fordfoundation.org/library/multimedia/change-by-design-colla...

 

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Laura Kurgan: Human geographies
Oct 01, 2009 — Laura Kurgan

Laura Kurgan spoke at the 2009 Pop Tech Conference. 

She presented the Million Dollar Blocks project as well as Exitin a talk titled "Human Geographies."

Watch the video here: http://poptech.org/popcasts/laura_kurgan_human_geographies

 

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Review of "Close Up at a Distance"
Oct 24, 2013 — Craig M. Dalton, Geographical Review

"Kurgan's Close up at a Distance is an ingenious and exciting push at the margins of what is possible to see and understand using satellite imagery, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The book is a review of and reflection on her provocative artistic and design projects using geotechnologies since the early 1990s."

Geographical Review, Volume 103Issue 4pages 584–587October 2013

Read More.

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Review of "Close up at a Distance."
Aug 24, 2013 — UrbanTick

"What do we see, when we see the world? In today's world transcended by digital technology and flooded with representations, models and mashups the question of 'what are we looking at?' becomes more important. The many layers of data and visualisations in many cases start clouding the subject or in some cases appears completely detached from it and develop a dynamic of their own. 

The kind of critiques are nothing new and have been heard through out the past decade. How perception is manipulated with information has been discussed for example in the book How to lie with Maps by H.J. de Blij , 1992. Here de Blij presents examples of representations and how they are used to favour certain aspects. Or also indeed The Power of Maps by Denis Wood, 1992, You are Here by Katharine Harmon, 2003 or the Atlas of Radical Cartography edited by Alexis Bhagat and Lize Mogel, 2008, to name a few of the recent cartography/mapping books of the recent years. 

In a new Zone Books publication Close up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics Laura Kurgan presents her research work and offers a theoretical discussion on the usage and employment of representations."

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"Close Up at a Distance" Review in Society & Space
Aug 24, 2013 — Columba Peoples

Columba Peoples reviews Laura Kurgan's Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics in Society and Space

"Laura Kurgan’s Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology and Politics is an insightful and innovative book that defies straightforward classification, ‘poised’ as it is “at the intersection of art, architecture, activism and geography” (page 17). Its subject matter—satellite images, satellite mapping and remote-sensing images—is by now an established concern of critical geographical scholarship in particular (see, amongst others, Cosgrove 2001; Crampton 2008; Crampton 2010; della Dora 2012; Dodge and Perkins 2009). Readers familiar with that scholarship will doubtlessly recognise many of the issues and debates broached by Close Up at a Distance: over the military origins of satellite technologies, images and mapping and the extent to which this still imposes secrecy and restrictions on their availability; on the promise and perils of ‘participatory’ cartography and the ‘democratic’ potentialities this may or may not offer; and finally, whether and how the increasingly ubiquitous use of satellite images and mapping might “transform … our ways of seeing and experiencing space” (page 14). The distinctive feature of Kurgan’s work in addressing these issues, though, is that it rejects the proposition that scholars can or should simply evaluate and respond to these at a ‘critical distance’: “[W]e do not stand at a distance from these technologies, but are addressed by and embedded within them”, Kurgan argues. Hence, “Only through a certain intimacy with these technologies—an encounter with their opacities, their assumptions, their intended aims—can we begin to assess their full ethical and political stakes” (page 14)."

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"Prison Blocks" - Atlantic Magazine
Mar 01, 2009 — Laura Kurgan

The Atlantic published an article by Laura Kurgan on SIDL's work in New Orleans:

"Hurricane Katrina Displaced hundreds of thousands of New Orleans residents; as they’ve returned, their struggles to remake their lives and communities have been well chronicled. But smaller waves of displacement, followed by straggling return, have been washing through the city, largely unremarked, for many years. In 2003, upwards of 12,000 New Orleans–area residents left the city for prison; more than half were expected to return home within three years. This destructive cycle, interrupted by the storm, is slowly reasserting itself. 

Nationwide, an estimated two-thirds of the people who leave prison are rearrested within three years. A disproportionate number of them come from a few urban neighborhoods in big cities. Many states spend more than $1 million a year to incarcerate the residents of single blocks or small neighborhoods."

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Million Dollar Blocks, exhibited at Into the Open Positoning Practice
Sep 14, 2008 — Spatial Information Design Lab

"The exhibition Into the Open highlights America's rich history of architectural experimentation and explores the original ways architects today are working collaboratively to invigorate community activism and environmental policy. 

In the absence of large-scale public infrastructure projects in the United States, local initiatives are becoming laboratories for generating new forms of sociability and civic engagement. These new community-minded architects are questioning traditional definitions of practice by conducting unique research into the socio-economic challenges and environmental rifts that define our times. They are going beyond building-- defining architecture not just as a physical infrastructure, but also as a social relationship. 

Into the Open debuted as the official United States representation at the 2008 Venice Biennale, where it offered international audiences insight into the ways America's architects are reinventing public space. Critics noted the exhibition's unusually sober assessment of the challenges America faces, as well as the inspired attempts by grassroots architects to mitigate these conflicts. In presenting the architects featured in this exhibition in Venice, New York, and finally Philadelphia, where the American experiment began, we underscore the power that intellectual entrepreneurs can have in enacting positive change. 

Currently on display in Philadelphia, the projects featured in the exhibition are divided between the National Constitution Center, Independence Mall, and the Slought Foundation on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, off-site community programming is being presented in partnership with local organizations. At the National Constitution Center you will encounter eight of the sixteen projects, including Estudio Teddy Cruz's 89-foot photo-narrative of the U.S.-Mexico border and Alice Water's model Edible Schoolyard outside on Independence Mall. Immersive, bold, and interactive, the intention of this exhibition is to inform and provoke--but commentary and participation are essential. We hope that the ideas presented in this exhibition prompt discussion in your own communities, adding yet another layer to the mix: your thoughts, your voice."

See more: http://intotheopen.org

Venues: 

National Constitution Center 
Slought Foundation 
July 15 through September 7, 2009 

Parsons The New School for Design, 
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 
March 4 through May 1, 2009 

The U.S. Pavilion for La Biennale di Venezia, 
11th International Architecture Exhibition 
September 14 through November 23, 2008

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