Our study site:

Our study site was a 2.6 sq. km area in the Pudong region of Shanghai. The site was formerly used for agriculture. Now it stands vacant in preparation for higher-end development. The Shanghai Disney theme park is immediately north of the study site.


In preparation for our trip to Shanghai, we completed three projects to help us think through design elements of a vacant site.

Our Goal

One of main objectives was to create a master plan that would suit the needs of both the Disney Corporation and the Shendi governmental organization. Disney’s initial objective was to try to reduce energy use on the site by 50%. Our other goals were to make the site profitable and user-friendly for residents and visitors.

Project One: Data Collection for an Unfamiliar Site

The class’s first area of study was to observe a site’s form and function through data collection. We explored data from 3 international cities – New York, Shanghai and Tokyo – to gain perspective. These initial studies revealed the opportunities and challenges we would face while studying our future site. Each site was explored at a 10-block view, a 1 sq. km view, and a 10 sq. km view. By studying our cities at different scales, we were able to observe the building blocks of a city: its block structures, infrastructure systems, and energy patterns and more.

Students were generally able to find block, road and building footprint data for all three cities. The data was provided in Autocad or shapefile form. Tokyo and Shanghai tended to have limited data, however. Their data primarily showed block shapes, building footprints, land uses and some infrastructure systems.

Large Size
Shown above: Shanghai, Jing’an District

New York had the greatest amount of data available. For New York, students were able to assess not just block structure, building types and land uses, but also:


  • zoning,
  • school districts
  • open space
  • stormwater drainage districts
  • bus routes
  • census tracts, and
  • greenhouse gas emissions
Shown above: sample of New York City data at 1 sq. mile


A wide variety of data, analyzed through tools such as GIS, can be used to show the function and interaction of overlapping systems. This project was completed in 3 weeks. Despite limited data (or, in the case of New York, too much data) students learned how to compile and analyze data on an unfamiliar city and site.

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