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February 9, 2001

ISU team to develop city planning tool for Beijing

by Steve Sullivan
The College of Design has received a $120,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project that will lead to a virtual reality tool for city planning.

The project will focus on the historic capital city of Beijing, China, but could lead to a tool applicable to any city in the world. Iowa State researchers will work with colleagues at the Beijing Polytechnic University (BPU) and officials with the Beijing City Planning and Administration Bureau. The Des Moines community development department will evaluate the tool during its stages of development.

The goal of the project is to develop an interactive visualization tool to help city planners manage urban growth and designers explore planning codes. The tool will be developed in Iowa State's Virtual Reality Applications Center. The project will involve converting city planning codes into computer codes, creating a virtual city and embedding the codes into the virtual city. It also will create a system in which a user will be able to enter the virtual city and do such things as select a property lot, input data and alter surroundings to see the potential impact of planning decisions.

Beijing was chosen because it faces social, environmental and planning issues related to modernization. Also, BPU and Beijing planning officials have funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China to develop an urban plan for Beijing.

This spring, the Iowa State research team, including a student, will visit Beijing to study the city and collect data. The first stage of the project will focus on central Beijing, including the Forbidden City.

The Iowa State team includes Chiu-Shui Chan, architecture and principal investigator; Carolina Cruz-Neira, electrical and computer engineering; Riad Mahayni, community and regional planning; Duane Shinn, community and regional planning; and I-Shian Suen, community and regional planning.

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