Urban Fold

Density Isn't Everything

Neal Payton says that density gets too much of the limelight when planning transit-oriented development, and that design and diversity should get more focus during the planning stages.

"[M]any of us in the area have repeatedly been thwarted in our attempts to build in such a manner due to existing zoning regulations, bureaucratic inertia, and well-organized groups of NIMBYs masquerading as environmentalists. Why? Perhaps the answer lies in our focus on the first of those ingredients-density. Too little time is spent on considering and promoting the other two-diversity and design. While many of the NIMBYs can never be won over, others are merely worried that the scale of new development will overwhelm them and diminish the quality of the public realm. Frankly, who can blame them?

"High-Density" development too often appears monolithic, insular and just plain in-human. Separated from its context so completely, it often appears to have dropped from the sky. Such projects may come with lush landscapes, carefully placed solar panels, sculptural shards, and the latest in high tech glazing systems. However, such "experiments" do not in themselves render the density any less blunt to surrounding neighbors and planning commission members whose conversations still focus on number of stories, dwelling units, acres or floor area ratio (FAR)."

Full Story: Transit Oriented Development: A Vehicle for Great Streets and Great Sidewalks

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