Automated Feasibility Project


A common circumstance of working with commercial development clients is producing feasibility studies to examine the value of pursuing a project on a particular site. Factors such as local zoning ordinances, building code, desired program, and site constraints all inform the buildable potential of a site and determine whether it is financially and strategically advantageous to invest in a project. Feasibility studies require the right balance of accuracy and efficient time management given the likelihood that many projects will not come to fruition.

My colleague Jason Weldon and I are currently embarking on a project to investigate the potential use of Dynamo for automating portions of the feasibility process. The two essential advantages to this approach are buying back time for deeper investigation and the validation of proposed schemes through iteration. Automation through Dynamo will significantly reduce initial preparation and manual input of information required to start a BIM model. Alteration of computational constraints will enact changes to the model for testing schemes and instantaneous calculations provide a report for each iteration. This process promotes efficiency and substantiates certainty.

Phase 1
Zoning Setbacks, Levels, Floor-to-Floor Height, & Courtyard

All studies begin with the same ingredients: a plot plan or civil drawing and preliminary zoning research. Working from these items alone, a maximum allowable building envelope can be established. Floor Area Ratio allowances and incentive zoning can be incorporated to evaluate proportional modifications to the overall envelope.

automated feasibility_phase 1.GIF

Here I start out by collecting the property line for a site from Revit. From the property line, I am able to establish setbacks on all five edges of the site. Constraints for the overall number of floors and floor-to-floor height allow to me to quickly explore different massing compositions. Inserting a courtyard facilitates improved residential potential for the site due to increased light and ventilation. By adjusting the distance of the courtyard from the exterior face of the building, it is possible to experiment with the proportional balance of form and floor area efficiency.

automated feasibility_definition

Download the open source definition here .