Rectilinear Grids Make a Comeback

In these austere times, some urbanists are advocating greater use of the traditional rectilinear grid — an efficient, less expensive, but also challenging pattern.

"A grid lowers per-unit infrastructure costs 35 to 40 percent compared to conventional suburban development, reports Jonathan Ford, a planner and civil engineer with Morris Beacon Design. In a study for EPA, he ran cost comparisons of various development scenarios for a South Carolina site. His research indicates that a rectilinear grid costs slightly less for infrastructure than a typical new urban modified grid, although more study is needed to get a more precise cost comparison, he says.

A bigger difference between a creative and a rectilinear street network could be the relative efficiency and the speed of implementation for builders and developers, Ford says. 'I love to design these [quirky, organic] layouts and the places that are created, but there are so many details that have to be designed right. It has to be done lot by lot.' [Kevin] Klinkenberg adds that if the layout is more complex, the developer may have fewer chances to replicate some designs and make money on them later in the project. 'The reality is that builders and developers really want to do simple, rectilinear buildings,' he says"

Thanks to Renee Gayle

Full Story: The case for the simple grid

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