Visualize NYC 2021

AIA New York partnered with MIT's Civic Design Data Lab (CDDL) on a two-part visualization project exploring four critical themes: the Evolving Public Realm, Climate Change and Resilience, Right to Housing, and Public Health.

- Center for Architecture Team

Can you describe your project and the concept behind it?

The November 2021 New York City election will lead to unprecedented turnover in city government; in addition to the mayor, 40 elected officials will reach term limits. In response to this singular opportunity for change, AIA New York partnered with MIT's Civic Design Data Lab (CDDL) on a two-part visualization project exploring four critical themes: the Evolving Public Realm, Climate Change and Resilience, Right to Housing, and Public Health.

Tell us about your initial moodboard, wireframe, or prototype. How did things change throughout the process?

We began with a very simple and graphically-driven digital identity, and as the visualizations were created by CDDL, we chose to add additional visual components that really played up the data sets.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

The first phase of the project, launched in October, visualizes responses by New Yorkers to 16 prompts related to the project's four main themes. For phase two, these themes are explored through additional data visualizations created by CDDL, which dive deep into specific issues that are impacting NYC. This work is complemented by six additional visualizations by MIT students.

When did you experience a breakthrough or an "a-ha" moment during this project?

“On the heels of pivotal federal elections, we hope this tool will help New Yorkers turn their attention to the intersection of design and urbanism in local policy issues essential to our 2021 municipal elections," says AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA.

What web technologies, tools, and resources did you use to develop this?

The data visualizations were developed by students at MIT's Civic Design Data Lab (CDDL). We used Wordpress, WP Engine, and the Adobe Creative Suite.

How did you balance your own creative ideas and technical capabilities with a fair representation of the client’s brand?

While there was no client in this project, there were many stakeholders, including the students at CDDL, leadership at AIA New York, the web design and development team, and the Center for Architecture exhibition team. We were able to work together intensely and consistently to present the data is a way that was accessible and also didn't misrepresent our capabilities or the reach of the available data on each given topic.

How did the final product meet or exceed your expectations?

We hope this project will serve as a tool to help New Yorkers understand what is at stake in 2021!

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

The next 12 months may be some of the most momentous in NYC's history, with a confluence of events — including the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and an election with the potential to reshape the political landscape — creating major opportunities for change. This project has the opportunity to help New Yorkers make vital decisions that will shape our city's future!

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