Theses Master's

Prioritizing Streets for Multipurpose Green Infrastructure: A Spatial Framework for New York City

Levich, Moses Narayan

The Regional Plan Association recommends the City of New York construct green infrastructure on every suitable city street. This goal informs the research aims of this capstone project: where should the city focus its resources to build this infrastructure, and how do different value systems affect this location decision? In this project, I design and carry out a GIS-based MCDA (Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis) that integrates twelve factors, each representing a specific need that green infrastructure could address or mitigate. I then propose a participatory mapping tool that will allow users to carry out their own MCDA according to individual values and priorities.

Green infrastructure has traditionally referred to nature-based solutions for a single purpose: generally either stormwater management or shade. In order to better address the multifaceted potential benefits of street trees and rain gardens, this project conceptualizes these interventions as multipurpose green infrastructure. The manifold nature of potential benefits is reflected in the categorization of the criteria used to make the model: access to green space, risk of stormwater flooding, air quality, and socioeconomic vulnerability. Initial investigation into different feature weights reveals relatively consistent patterns: high-priority neighborhoods include Midtown Manhattan, and Bedford-Stuyvesant and Gowanus in Brooklyn.

These results are not definitive, and the ongoing development of an online participatory mapping platform will allow a wider range of feature weights. This platform will have the potential to democratize decisions about green infrastructure placement across the city, from the neighborhood scale to the level of individual city blocks. Working towards bottom-up participation in these critical decisions aligns with environmental justice principles as well as the values of RPA and the city of New York.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Devlin, Ryan
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2022