Based on my experience at the Geodesign Summit last January i've blogged about the different views of what geodesign is, so I won't reiterate that here. Eric's perspective is practical. Geodesign is design that considers geography.
Geodesigning really isn't new. People have been making this type of design decisions since we have been had buildings and towns. Many cities are near water bodies for obvious reasons. Some cities are not near water for other reasons, for example, to avoid mosquitoes and malaria. Eric provided a classic example of bad and good geosdesign in the U.S. by comparing a standard American suburban development with Frank Lloyd Wright's renowned waterfall house.
Architecture and GIS
He mentioned the early geodesign pioneer Ian McHarg who developed geodesign techniques before the term was invented. McHarg’s book Design with Nature, published in 1969, pioneered ecological planning. Geographic overlay maps were not invented by Ian McHarg, founder of the Department of Landscape Architecture at the Universityof Pennsylvania, but were popularized by him within the architectural profession. Some of the tools used by McHarg that would be familiar to GIS people include overlay maps, transects, diagrams, drawings, bird’s eye perspective, photography and block diagrams. But McHarg did all this with paper, mylar and acetates because he didn't have the computerized GIS tools we have today.
Modern geodesign is a systematic approach to design that uses computer GIS tools to incorporate geography into the process of designing(planning) buildings and infrastructure. Initially geodesign used 2D tools exclusively. But now as 3D is being integrated into GIS tools, geodesign is also beginning to leverage 3D and some of the examples that Wittner showed used 3D.
Geodesign as a process
From the examples I have seen, the focus of geodesign, at least in how it is used at the present, is on the planning phase, rather than the design phase of the construction lifecycle. But like BIM processes, geodesign is collaborative, but it is perhaps more multi-disciplinary (involving a wider range of stakeholders including politicians and the public), multi-scale (involving different levels of government) and iterative (typical in planning) than is typical of most BIM design processes.
As a simple infrastucture example, if you have ever been to Redlands you'll know that it is not a pedestrian-friendly place. Roads are wide, cars go fast, often there are not sidewalks, or sidewallks disappear into rail lines. On a hot day, you're likely exposed to direct sun. Wittner gave a very simple example of how geodesign could be used to encourage people to walk or bicycle in Redlands by narrowing roads, adding sidewalks, and planting trees to provide shade. But the key to success in making simething like this happen is that you have to get all the stakeholders participating in the planning process.
City of Honolulu
Another example is the City of Honolulu where the challenge was to accomodate 140,000 new residents without significatly increasing Honolulu's infamous traffic problem and suburban sprawl. They knew they had to grow up rather than out.
Philadelphia Logan Square