LiDAR map of NYC tree cover

Three Technology Projects Represent Change for the Better

Tree Folio NYC, Dwelling Unit for Musicians, and Scout received honorable mentions in Metropolis’ inaugural Responsible Disruptors competition.

Disruption in technology is often associated with negative consequences like social disorder, environmental degradation, and economic marginalization. Facebook (now Meta) founder Mark Zuckerberg summed up this ethos with his early motto “Move fast and break things.” But disruption can also be beneficial. When done right, it can encourage health, wellness, efficiency, and equity. In that spirit, Metropolis is thrilled to share the winners of its first Responsible Disruptors program, honoring A&D technology projects that represent significant change for the better. 


Design Across Scales Lab, Cornell University

Combining ground-level survey data with lidar imaging to produce a 3D visualization of New York City’s greenery, Tree Folio NYC disrupts the idea of the global “urban forest,” repositioning each individual street tree as part of a citywide distributed infrastructure, embedded with histories of inequality and underinvestment. Users of the open-source tool—including researchers, public advocacy groups, and city residents—can learn about a tree’s canopy, species, size, health, and shade protection, among many other attributes, allowing for more effective strategies for tree planting and preservation. 

micro home for musicians


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Automated Architecture (AUAR)

At ten square metres (107 square feet), the Dwelling Unit for Musicians in Bristol, U.K., was constructed using AUAR’s modular timber building system, which integrates robotics and automation to provide high-quality, beautiful, sustainable, and affordable housing. The project demonstrates the potential of AUAR’s system to support customization and community participation in the construction process: Units can be easily customized based on site characteristics and inhabitants’ lifestyle and visual preferences. And timber building blocks can be disassembled and reassembled for other uses, creating less material waste. 

scout community outreach



Scout is a shared generative design web platform that helps Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) gain quick data-driven insights, present to clients, and engage with the community. Developed by KPF Urban Interface (KPFui), an R&D wing of KPF, the platform automates several components of design, helping designers and collaborators compare thousands of options, make more informed decisions, and enjoy the creative freedom of visualizing results in real time. Scout has already been deployed on over 50 KPF projects. 

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