Brian McGrath, Mark Watkins

Manhattan Timeformations

An interactive model of the evolution of the Manhattan skyline over time.

Manhattan Timeformations

Manhattan Timeformations


Manhattan Timeformations presents an interactive history of New York City building development. The project aims at an interactive visualization of the evolution of urban spaces and at an understanding of how cities unfold in time. It combines 3 D digital models of New York skyscrapers with abstract representations in order to explore the dynamic relationship between Manhattan´s skyscrapers and other layers of urban information, such as: geologic formation and communication infrastructure, zoning laws and real estate cycles. Manhattan Timeformations uses geographic information systems (GIS) to define the societal and environmental contexts of urban design, planning, and architecture. The unusual and hybrid character of this computer model allows the viewer to correlate the cartographic history of 370 years of urban development of the island with the peaks and valleys of office building speculation. Manhattan Timeformations has been designed as part of an exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum, NYC and as online presentation.

Artists / Authors



United States, 2000

Partners / Sponsors

This project was commissioned by the Skyscraper Museum, NYC (director: Carol Willis), with a technologies initiative grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.


» http://www.skyscrape…formations/intro.html


The project depended on previous archival research (two years). The model and web site itself was completed in six months by four people.

The grant from the NYSCA ($15,000) allowed the Skyscraper Museum, NYC to hire the architect Brian McGrath to work with web designer Mark Watkins to build an interactive model of the evolution of the Manhattan skyline over time. There were 20 public open forums during the making of the model and web interface.


, May 17, 2004