Stories From The Field

Revealing the Effects of High-Rise Condominiums on Water Views in Pennsylvania

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Issue

The historic port area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, affords picturesque views of the Delaware River, so when a developer proposed the construction of 30- to 60-floor condominiums on the port's finger piers, concerns were raised about the effects on scenic vistas. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Resources Management Program (PA CRM) wanted to protect this area from development to maintain public access to the water and to protect the area’s scenic views.

Process

The PA CRM used CanVis, a free and easy to use visualization software to create a series of photo-realistic simulations illustrating the aesthetic impacts of the proposed condominium developments on the historic viewshed of the Delaware River. Using photographs of similar existing waterfront condos, staff members quickly developed CanVis object files and easily added these to an image of the waterfront.

Impact

The "before and after" visualizations were used to clearly show the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) the aesthetic and viewshed consequences of high rise condominium development along the Delaware River. Because officials could actually “see” what form the development would take in the built environment, the condo proposal was ultimately rejected. With the help of CanVis, the DVRPC staff members can now quickly and easily create visualizations to help ensure that other scenic and historic viewsheds along the Delaware River will remain intact for future generations to enjoy.

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Original photo of the historic waterfront of the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
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The CanVis visualization shows the visual impacts of proposed condominium developments to the existing viewshed. Images courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Zone Management Program.
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