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  • Computerized Approach to Residential Land Analysis (CARLA)

    Computerized Approach to Residential Land Analysis (CARLA)


    • Computerized Approach to Residential Land Analysis, known as CARLA, was a proprietary software program developed by the architectural firm Willis & Associates of San Francisco, California, in 1971.

      In the 1970s, there were not many architectural and engineering firms that recognized the computer’s potential as a tool for financial evaluation. Reynolds, Smith & Hills, a firm in Jacksonville, Florida, produced managing software designed to organize an array of financials that could help identify a successful development investment strategy. This application was limited to financial analysis and marked the first phase of computer application in architecture. In 1971, Willis and Associates innovated the computer’s spatial analysis capacities for application in architectural and land planning practices, foreshadowing the eventual development of computer-aided design and mapping programs in architecture and urban planning. CARLA was able to produce in a twenty-day period what by traditional methods and analyses would achieve in four to six months, allowing land development and construction to take place more rapidly. This was an important consideration in the 1970s when rates of inflation were rising and construction delays could introduce significant cost increases. CARLA could process “500% more information in 400% less time and at 40% of the cost generated by utilizing the more traditional methods.”

      CARLA was a customized software program conceived by Beverly Willis and written in house by a Harvard Graduate School of Design student, Jochen Eigen, designed to analyze prospective land parcels for their development potential as large-scale multi-unit complexes. Jochen Eigen wrote the programming scripts that directed CARLA as the managing software to interface a variety of planning unit concepts with a mapping program that could then process a variety of planning proposals against the site’s fixed fields of relevant data. The data was extracted from traditional analog topographical maps soil analysis, and marketing information.



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