A neighborhood-scale Lego model of new bus transit modules from the MIT Media Lab's Changing Places group.
Ariel Noyman/MIT Media LabA neighborhood-scale Lego model of new bus transit modules from the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group.

To get the public more involved in the urban-planning process, particularly with regard to the effects of new transit routes, MIT researchers are playing with Legos. More specifically, a team from the institute’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places group, along with the Barr Foundation, used the ubiquitous plastic building blocks to create a massing study of Boston’s Dudley Square neighborhood, upon which it is projecting details such as green space, water features, and traffic flow to help residents better understand how new bus transit lines could impact city-wide access to jobs. “The platform lowers the threshold of participation because every kid knows how to move a Lego piece,” Phil Tinn, a MIT master’s student working on the project, told CityLab. The project has three elements, all based on publicly available data: the Lego model of Dudley Square, a 3D model of a Boston street, and a touchscreen interface that shows the impact of the proposed transit plans on a regional scale—for example, how many local jobs can be accessed from a single point using public transit, and whether adding additional transit routes will result in access to a greater number of jobs.

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