Project Highrise – Architect’s Notes for June 23, 2016

by matt v, June 23rd, 2016

Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.
– Frank Gehry

It’s a day in the life of a Project Highrise skyscrape in animated gifs! Click on any of them to open larger versions in a separate tab or window.

Over the course of a day, you’ll see a lot of varied activity as residents, workers and visitors go about their lives. Let’s start in the morning. Here we’ve got a few latecomers getting to work as well as some visitors arriving for some very important business appointments.

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Some say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But if you’re the developer of an office building in Project Highrise, that honor is definitely reserved for lunch. Make sure that there are enough restaurants to meet the demand at the lunch rush!

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We leave you this week with the serenity of late night. After the workers have gone home and the janitors have done their work, the only sound audible over the din of the city is the soft splashing of the fountains. Soon another day begins anew in the tower.

night

Next week we’ll get technical about how we got all of those people moving about in the tower.


Project Highrise – Architect’s Notes for June 14, 2016

by matt v, June 14th, 2016

Less is more.
– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

It’s time for some show and tell in this week’s post! Click on any image in this post to view a larger version of it.

This post starts off with a quote that has fewer letters than the name of the man who said it. Project Highrise visual design was highly influenced by Mies’s architecture and design philosophy. We’re based in Chicago where he spent the more prolific part of his career and there are many examples of his work in our fair city.

Recently, we’ve been working on several visual refinements to the game. First of all, we’ve implemented a new outer skin to the building. When designing the visuals for the exterior of a building in Project Highrise, we took Mies’s maxim quoted above to heart.

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A key tenet of the architectural style championed by Mies is that the building’s structural elements should be sufficient in terms of decoration. We tried to follow that when creating the outer skin of our building. So the windows are simply framed by structural columns and the roof decoration is limited to the ventilation shafts.

Moving downward to the subterranean portion of a building….

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There are also new support pylons that act as the foundation of your skyscraper. If you’re building an 80 story tall building, it’s important to make sure it’s well-anchored in bedrock. So we also included bedrock which you can see in the bottom of this image.

In an earlier Architect’s Notes, we talked about utilities and the pipe and wire infrastructure of a building in Project Highrise. In this rainy day image, you can see the conduit that brings electricity, telephone, cable TV, water and gas service into your building from the city’s utility grid.

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Also, if you’ve ever seen one of Mies’s skyscrapers in person, one of their more striking features is their soaring glass-encased lobbies. One of the finest examples is the IBM Building here in Chicago. So of course we had to have glass lobbies to Project Highrise.

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And finally, we’ve added clouds and did some refining of the day and night cycle. So we’ll leave you with an animated gif of a day swiftly rushing by. Click here or on the image to view a higher quality movie clip.

sunrise-sunset


Project Highrise Steam Page Announcement

by matt v, June 2nd, 2016

We’ve got some exciting news to share that we figured warranted a break from our regular posting schedule. So, without further ado…

Project Highrise is now in preview on Steam. You can’t buy it (yet), but you can add it to your wishlist and follow it for more updates as we move toward our launch later this summer.

If you clicked through to the Steam page, you might have also noticed that our friends at Kasedo Games have made a teaser trailer video for Project Highrise.


Project Highrise – April 2016 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, April 27th, 2016

Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos.
(Whoever’s is the soil, it is theirs all the way to heaven and to hell).
Accursius

A question we get frequently when people first see Project Highrise is an obvious one when your game is based on building skyscrapers: “How high can I build?” On the technical side of the game, that’s mostly up to you as the player – how tall can you or do you want to build?

But it’s also more complicated than that, because city laws and rules also impact you as tower builder and manager. That opening quote in Latin forms one of the core tenets of modern property law – that if you own a piece of land, you own everything that’s above it and below it. However, that doesn’t mean that you’re completely free to do with it as you please. Cities set rules, limits, regulations and statutes that govern construction of everything from backyard sheds to gleaming towers of steel and glass.

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The city regulates how much tower you can build. Click the image for larger.

Almost as soon as steel frames liberated builders from the rather modest height achievable with masonry load bearing walls (see the Monadnock Building building in Chicago for the limits of masonry walls), cities began imposing limits on how tall these new buildings could rise. In 1920, that was 264 feet in Chicago and between 600 and 700 feet in New York.

In addition to the limit on height, there is also the concept of air rights. These are a set of rules and calculations that permit a given number of square feet to be built on a lot based on its dimensions and location. The combination of these two things largely defines how much tower you can build.

As an aspiring developer in Project Highrise, you’ll have to be keenly aware of those limits as you plan and construct your tower. You will only be able to build a set amount of floor space, and up to a certain height. So do you go as tall as possible and maximize for height? Or do you max out your floor area first and building height second? Maybe you build a large base and a skinny tower (or two)?

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This large building is nearing its city-imposed limit on height. Click the image for larger.

In Project Highrise’s campaign mode scenarios (and to a more limited extent in sandbox), you’ll be confronted with building lots of many different configurations and sizes. Some come with their own special city limitations for you to work with (or around). Your challenge will be to create a prestigious, prosperous tower within the constraints of size, zoning and other civic constraints.

Of course, there are ways to massage those rules in your favor. You can hire consultants that can use their influence with City Hall to allow you a valuable exemption. You can agree to build some public space in exchange for an increased allocation of air rights. Often the city will also be looking to encourage specific types of construction – tall residential towers or expansive office buildings. You should use these initiatives to your advantage.

A successful developer will have to manage more than just the tenants in the building, but a whole host of external pressures. More on those other external pressures next time.


Project Highrise – March 2016 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, March 30th, 2016

When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.
-Colleen C. Barrett

In previous notes, we’ve met workers who will help you build and run your tower – such as construction workers and service workers. Today we’d like to introduce you to your management team – the consultants who will assist you with various aspects of building management and improvement.

Good building management is key to becoming a highly prestigious, sought-after address. To project an aura of sophistication and modernity, and to improve the aesthetics of your building, you will want to hire an interior designer who has the right connections with all the right galleries. Good relations with City Hall will also prove invaluable, and you should hire a lobbyist who has the ear of City Hall to arrange for certain lucrative concessions or exceptions from pesky city regulations. Finally, you should optimize your building through experienced building management. From hiring more construction workers to increasing service capacity, a good building manager can make things in your building happen more efficiently and with greater speed.

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Building managers managing a building.

These consultants are essentially management mercenaries. But while they’ll work for cash, they won’t work for just anyone. In Project Highrise, you need to prove that you have enough cachet to attract them and their services. In other words, you need to have influence.

So, how do you get it? Influence comes from having important tenants in your building, such as big corporations or rich residents, and keeping them happy. The more important tenants you have, the more influence you will have, which in turn will make your building an attractive place for consultants to ply their trade. Once you have the right management team in place, you can then begin to parlay your accumulated influence into various building improvements, amazing artworks, or valuable exemptions to city regulations.

After the interior decorator has decided to join your team, you’ll be able to get those sought-after pieces to adorn your lobbies and hallways. This will greatly increase the prestige of your building.

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Or how about a metro station in the basement of the building? That would certainly increase the value of your building for current and prospective tenants. Your lobbyist can work on leveraging your influence with City Hall to make that happen.

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Extra construction workers would also make everything go faster – from building expansion to moving in tenants. Your building manager consultant can arrange for that.

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World-famous towers need world-class management. Influence and a good team of consultants will be crucial if you want to create a famous address.


Project Highrise – February 2016 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, February 23rd, 2016

The desire to reach for the sky runs very deep in our human psyche.
César Pelli

This month, we’re taking a quick break from our usual posts to announce some exciting news about Project Highrise.

Exciting News #1
We’re proud to announce that we’re teaming up with Kasedo Games, a division of Kalypso Media, to release Project Highrise. If you’re not familiar, Kalypso is the company that brought us the lovely and wonderful Tropico series of games. While this doesn’t mean that El Presidente will have an office in your tower, it does mean that we’ll have a lot of help from them as we work toward releasing Project Highrise this summer.

You can learn more more about Kasedo and the other games they’ve released or are in the pipeline by visiting their website at www.kasedogames.com. They’re on twitter at @KasedoGames. You can also see the press release about our partnership here.

Exciting News #2
We’re going to be at GDC in San Francisco next month to demo the game. If you’re in the media business and would like to spend some time with us and see the game in vivo, contact Lindsay Schneider at Kalypso for an appointment. And to all of our Bay Area friends, we’ll see you in a few weeks!

Exciting News #3
Project Highrise has got a logo! Eddie Einikis, the artist that created all of the offices and other tenants in the game also created this amazing logo for the game. Pretty neat, right?

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We’ll return to posts about the ongoing development of the game next month when we’ll delve into the beginnings of the game’s campaign mode.  


Project Highrise – January 2016 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, January 29th, 2016

If a building becomes architecture, then it is art.
Arne Jacobsen

350 5th Avenue.
233 South Wacker Drive
30 St Mary Axe
600 Montgomery Street
1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard

Recognize any of those addresses? No? Ok. How about these:

The Empire State Building
The Sears Tower
The Gherkin
The Transamerica Pyramid
The Burj Khalifa

They represent the fusion of glass and steel with fame and prestige. In Project Highrise, it’s your job as the architect to add your building to that list. But how exactly do you transform mere plots of land, these anonymous address coordinates, into names recognized the world over? What differentiates an Empire State Building from a nameless point on the Manhattan skyline? In this month’s Architect’s Notes, we’ll examine the features of your tower that bring fame and renown.

As your building grows and becomes more complex, you’ll begin to gain prestige. When you achieve certain population milestones, you’ll see your prestige rise. More people living and working in your building will mean that more people will know about your building.

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A high population starts the prestige gains. Click for larger.

When your tower is starting out, you’ll only be able to attract some basic tenants to rent space. These are tenants who aren’t picky about their address and will rent pretty much anywhere, but they also don’t want to pay much. Do you want to attract higher-end and higher paying tenants? You’ll need to gain prestige. Want to attract the headquarters of a famous company? You’ll need to gain prestige. Do you want a fancy French restaurant with curated menus or a chic jeweler to grace your shopping concourse? You’ll need to gain prestige.

While money can’t buy fame in Project Highrise, it can buy famous art pieces – from fountains to paintings to statues. Small artworks will add a minimal amount of prestige: they’re nice pieces for the tenants and visitors to notice as they walk by, but nothing too terribly impressive in their own right. By contrast, large works of art will add significantly to your prestige level. You can project your fame by placing a statue in your plaza or commissioning a famous mural for your lobby. These will not only impress the tenants, but they’ll attract visitors in their own right to come and behold your good taste.

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A chic lobby speaks of status and taste. Click for larger.

Prestige will also unlock other avenues of development. There will be many city contracts that will only be available if your building has earned enough prestige. Some building advisors (who can greatly improve the function of your building) will only work with you if you have reached a required level of prominence.

Building up prestige is one way that your tower will go from mere high rise building into a skyscraper recognized the world over. There are other ways to help boost fame, but we’ll save those for another installment.


Project Highrise – November 2015 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, November 27th, 2015

The love of glory gives an immense stimulus.
– Ovid

In addition to the workers and residents that you’ll see day in and day out, your tower will also start to attract visitors from the city at large. Businesses like this newsstand will draw in shoppers to leaf through the latest issues. Once they’re done, they might want to grab a coffee or quick drink while they read their purchases.

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Also, some of your businesses will begin to draw in clients, patients and colleagues from the city for appointment and meetings. Once the appointment is concluded, they may grab lunch. Or if the meeting wraps up, it may be time to head to the bar to continue discussions over a beer.

If a visitor to your building had a great experience, then there’s a chance their visit will generate a buzz point or two. Once your buzz total reaches a high enough level, you’ll be able to leverage your building’s popularity and notoriety into coverage in the media by launching a campaign.  

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What’s the buzz? (click for larger)

Media campaigns will last a set period of time and during that time, you’ll be able to reap certain benefits – cheaper construction costs, reduced utility bills or increased restaurant patronage. As you gain experience, campaigns will progress and become more powerful.  

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Broken elevators are bad news.(click for larger)

So keep a sharp eye on your residents, workers and visitors. Make sure that they can get to where they need to go efficiently. Keep you building in good repair. Ensure that your restaurants and retail outlets aren’t getting mobbed. Put up some nice artwork here and there. You’ll find a happy building is a profitable building.


Project Highrise – October 2015 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, October 30th, 2015

You can put down a bad book; you can avoid listening to bad music; but you cannot miss the ugly tower block opposite your house.
Renzo Piano

Where do all of those artificial people go when they leave work? This month, we reveal the secrets of homelife in Project Highrise.

Home is where the heart(h) is
So far, we’ve mainly talked about buildings full of offices and things related to office workers’ wants and needs – from the restaurants where they head for lunch to the couriers who deliver their important packages. But tall buildings are not always full of offices and business activity. Often, they’re towering residential blocks teeming with apartments, condos and amenities for the sky-dwelling urbanite.

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For you as the building manager, there are important differences between offices and apartments: apartments are much more needy. Kitchens need gas hookups, bathrooms need water, and apartment dwellers want cable TV to entertain themselves. And that’s just utilities, don’t even get me started about amenities like laundry rooms or gyms.

Trash talk
But first, let’s talk about garbage (and recycling). Apartment living is messy and all of that garbage generated by life’s daily activity needs to go somewhere. Apartment residents want to be able to get rid of their refuse easily and will want trash bins (1) and recycling rooms (2) available on each floor.

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Once those fill up, your building maintenace staff will collect discarded items from bins, and bring them into your building’s central trash rooms (3) or recycling centers (4). You’ll have a contract with a hauler that will empty them out every once in awhile.

Right now, the recycling center (2) is full and could use a pick-up. Until it gets emptied, your building maintenace staff won’t be able to put anything else in it. So they won’t be able to clear out the small bins on each floor. Following the chain backwards to the point of generation, that means that when that resident on the top goes to empty her household recycling, she’ll find that the room is full. And it probably doesn’t smell great or look nice. On top of that, she can’t dump her garbage. That will make her upset.

What’s that smell? And noise? And…
No one wants to live near a trash heap of fish heads and eggshells. Trash stinks, so you’ll have to be careful about where you locate trash and recycling facilities. Here’s the building with an overlay in red showing the impact and extent of the smelliness generated by the trash. While the elevators don’t care so much, the people to the right might be a little upset by the constant odor of everyone’s garbage next door.

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And your residents will be sensitive to a whole array of environmental factors. Offices and stores tend to be noisy, while restaurants have kitchen smells and loud parties, so they’ll need a bigger buffer between them and your apartments.

But for some, living close to the elevator might be nice. And everyone likes a view, so apartments on higher floors will command premium rents. Putting in some nice artwork or otherwise improving the appearance of your tower will also go down well with your tenants.

Status and clout
So now it looks like “building super” is also on your list of jobs in Project Highrise. And while dealing with an angry tenant is never any fun, there will be considerable benefits for welcoming apartments into your tower. Apartments are where people live, sleep and bring up the next generation. They’re home. You’ll be able to take advantage of the political power generated by your residents in other spheres of development, and leverage that to your benefit. But that’s a subject for a later discussion.


Project Highrise – September 2015 Architect’s Notes

by matt v, September 25th, 2015

Only when the design fails does it draw attention to itself; when it succeeds, it’s invisible.
– John D. Berry

Last month’s Architect’s Notes focused on the human infrastructure of a tower in Project Highrise – the service workers and providers that you’ll have to manage to keep tenants happy. To keep the rent flowing, there are a few other services that you’ll have to manage on behalf of your tenants.

Is your name not Bruce, then?
First, let’s meet a tenant. This is Dr. Brucette. She’s a dentist and this is her office. Her receptionist, Bruce, is working in the waiting area.
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Click above for a larger image

[And yes, right now, all of our NPCs are named Bruce or Brucette. Because
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f_p0CgPeyA ]

The first thing that Dr. Brucette needs is electricity to keep the drills going and the lights on. Dentistry in the dark would be an alarming thing indeed. You’ll also notice that she’s got a sink nearby and her assistant and receptionist, Bruce, needs to call patients to remind them that their cleaning is approaching. So a water connection and phone service will be necessary in addition to electricity. You’ll need to have those things in place to keep this dentist from moving out and creating a cavity in your tower.

You’ve got the power.

First, you’ll need to allocate some space in your basement or a sub-basement for some equipment that will interface with the utility network outside of your building. Here are the five types of utilities and examples of what type of equipment you’ll need to build to provide them to your tenants:

  1. Power transformers for electricity
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  2. Switches and transceivers for phone service
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  3. Routers and interfaces for cable TV service
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  4. Pumps and filters for water service
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  5. Manifolds and pressure regulators for natural gas
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Once built, each of those will provide a certain amount of capacity to your building. Careful monitoring will be necessary to make sure that you’re able to deliver what your building is demanding. Your water pumps will need to have enough power to fill kitchen sinks while also running dishwashers in restaurants. You’ll be able to add more pumps but you’ll also be able to construct large pumps that are more efficient – but also more expensive.

So, now you’ve got the pumps, transformers and switches built. The next step is to get the water, power and phone lines to Dr. Brucette’s office where they’re needed. To connect one floor with the one above or below it, you’ll need to build utility closets, of which Project Highrise has two types:

  1. A wiring closet that allows you to connect wires between floors for electricity, phone and TV; and
  2. A plumbing closet that allows pipes to connect between floors.

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Closets are on the bottom right. Click for a larger image.

Once you’ve got those in place on the floor where Dr. Brucette’s office is located, you’ll be able to place the wires and pipes that will deliver service.

The bigger your network gets, the more expensive it will be to maintain. Building a small electric transformer will give you enough capacity for a limited number of connections in your building. Some tenants will only need one, but some will require multiple connections. Once you’ve exhausted your capacity, you’ll need to add more transformers. Larger meters, transformers and pumps will provide more connections, but while they’ll be more efficient, they’ll also be more expensive to maintain.

As you’re planning your tower, you’ll have many questions to dig into around utilities. Does it make sense to build an entire network of natural gas procurement and distribution for just one tenant? Or do you need to build access to phone service on every floor or just cluster those that need it together? If you expand and add more space to your tower, what will that do to your utility networks? Like every other type of real estate, location will matter and it’s up to you to find the right tenant for the right location.

The great architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once quipped about decoration that “Less is more” and when it comes to your tower’s utility network, those will be words to build by.


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