Architect Magazine talks with San Francisco's new planning director, John Rahaim, about the urban planning challenges and issues in the city.
Architect Magazine: "What are the critical issues facing urban planning?"
John Rahaim: "One of the primary responses to climate change that we should have is reinvestment in our cities, a refocusing on city life, encouraging pedestrians and the use of transit. Another challenge is that we are getting denser. We need to address the public amenities that make the density work. We need to pay close attention to our open spaces, to the quality of life on the streets, to public safety. The design of the built environment is a crucial part of that."
Architect Magazine: "You're dealing with a finite set of land, and when you're growing, going skyward has always been the answer ..."
Rahaim: "It's about density and where density is appropriate. There are plenty of ways to achieve density, but high-rises have their place. San Francisco is looking at a district to allow thousand-foot buildings, and we're looking at high-rises in other parts of the city. Even though we're in a confined area-San Francisco is 49 square miles-there are several thousand acres that are being redeveloped, former industrial and Navy sites that are basically unused. It's an amazing opportunity."