George Zhang

MArch I

The Economics of Space and Time: Toward a True Mixed-Use

Advised by Belinda Tato

As the world’s population continues to migrate and gravitate toward cities for more opportunities (at the rate of one million per week), perennial challenges in today’s urban communities—congestion, density, and high costs of living—will only become exacerbated. On the other hand, buildings and land plots in cities have yet to reach their potentials. According to the US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), in 2018, residential and commercial buildings accounted for about 40 percent of total US energy consumption, yet buildings are often designed only to be used for a third of a day at any given point. In addition, while zoning policies help ensure healthy urban growth, these strict delineations between different land uses can limit the possibilities of innovations in mixed-use opportunities.

Progress is already in place—the work-from-home model that emerged out of the current pandemic can be seen as a hybrid between residential and commercial (office) land use, while online shopping is effectively merging the residential and retail zoning. By identifying and leveraging vacancies and opportunities present in today’s cities and buildings, the project speculates on a new mixed-use model that defines ownership and use of space through the dimension of time and that can be fluid throughout the day and week to accommodate different needs and demands. An office during the day could be a restaurant in the evening, while a theater during the evening could be bedrooms at night… The possibilities are endless. This will truly maximize the value embedded in today’s buildings and land to create positive benefits and impact across the economic (more affordable), social (more interaction), and environmental (less emission) realms.

A rendering of the tower proposal located in Midtown Manhattan NYC.

Photographs overhead views of a person sitting on a bed, four people eating a meal together, a person working on a laptop computer with digital multimedia, and a person doing yoga on a white mat. Labels LIVE, EAT, WORK, PLAY, are above the photos. Text below images reads: A 24 HOUR CITY NEEDS A 24 HOUR BUILDING. Saving space, time, energy all while creating value. True mixed use.

A sectional diagram depicting the function of each unit, serving as office by day and apartment by night.

An animation of an axonometric diagram depicting the function of each unit, serving as office by day and apartment by night.

Renderings depicting two views of an interior room in a high-rise building, serving as office by day and apartment by night.