Sensitive Buildings-2012

Class Description

This is a class is about creating smart habitats for city dwellers. Students will conceive and prototype large scale device networks to benefit the tenants of a 28-story, 325-unit landmark apartment building on Central Park South in Manhattan. The high-rise owners have once again invited ITP to develop a variety of prototypes that enhance the livability, ecology and community of their apartment building. The class has been newly restructured into three parts: We’ll start by touring the building to learn about its infrastructure, inhabitants and context. This begins our Observation and Design phase in which students will employ behavioral studies, user-centered design and ethnography; paired with tenant interviews and other techniques that inspire first-rate innovations. Next we will quickly cover deploying Wireless Technology to connect interactive devices. Finally, we’ll return to the site with prototypes that explore project possibilities, installing these proof-of-concepts and observing the real-world results. We’ll take what we’ve learned into Final Projects that have the potential to be deployed at scale and considered for long-term sponsorship.

This 1939 building’s recent renovation created lower-level green roofs, various upgrades for energy efficiency and a historically restored facade. It has been described as, “state-of-the-art green architecture before the term was coined.” The building’s motto is “Where The Park is Part of the Plan.” Our class is provided with access to unoccupied units, and opportunities to connect with current residents. The owners generously allow full supervised access to building infrastructure from roof to basement including ventilation, plumbing, heating, elevator and energy systems. Students get an extraordinary chance to invent and deliver big benefits for residents using active observation techniques as they develop interactive networks on a towering scale.



Syllabus (check regularly for updates)

Building Resources

Restoration info
Architectural Record Article
Site Visit Photos
Architect’s photo album
Paul Goldberger’s New York: A Guide to the Architecture of Manhattan

Student Work

Student work documentation (to be posted by students as the class progresses)


Code examples will be posted on an ongoing basis.

Class Discussion List

Discussion list for announcements and group chat


Lecture slides are generally posted after class


Certain readings for class will be available online

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