Sensitive Buildings-2011

Class Description

This is a class is about creating smart habitats for city dwellers. Students will conceive and construct large scale sensor networks that benefit the tenants of a 28-story, 325-unit landmark apartment building on Central Park South in Manhattan. The high-rise owner has invited ITP to develop a variety of prototypes to enhance the livability, ecology and community of their apartment building. Students will learn to use the latest in ZigBee wireless technology to design, build and deploy interactive sensor network systems, with broad access to this landmark pre-war apartment complex. We’ll start hands-on, by teaching everything you need to know about wireless networking while developing potential project ideas. During the first part of the class we’ll tour the building to learn about its infrastructure, inhabitants and context. Next, we’ll create fast prototypes that explore design possibilities, installing these proof-of-concepts on site and observing the real-world results. Finally we’ll take what we’ve learned into final projects that have the potential to be deployed at scale, and considered for sponsorship.
This 1939 building’s recent renovation has it sporting a lower-level green roof, 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,” in fact the building’s motto is “Where The Park is Part of the Plan.” Our class will be provided with access to unoccupied units, and current residents may also participate. The owners will maintain carefully supervised access to building infrastructure from roof to basement including ventilation, plumbing, heating, elevator and energy systems. Students get an extraordinary chance to deliver big benefits for residents as they develop sensor and actuator networks on a towering scale.


Syllabus (for the completed Fall 2011 class)

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 (will be posted as the class progresses)


Code examples will be posted on an ongoing basis.

Class Discussion List

Discussion list will be opened when class begins


Lecture slides are generally posted after class


Certain readings for class will be available online

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