The Tension Between Density and Place

Looking at a battle earlier this year over a proposed 430-ft. high skyscraper in San Francisco, John Parman says the problem with dense buildings is that they need to work with the surrounding place types.

Parman expresses his belief that the height limits are in place for a reason - to respect the character of the existing city:

"A question that these arguments raised is whether modern life has left us ill-equipped to consider density in relation to the scale and character of a place. Have we actually been blinded by the assumptions of modernity to disregard what surrounds us and opt instead for 'progress' that speaks to abstract values rather than to the actual experience of a city as a series of places?"

"The question density poses is, 'What relationships are appropriate to that place?' It's not a question which is meant to be posed or discussed in abstract."

Full Story: Density and Urbanity



"Density and Urbanity"

An earlier version of this essay, as posted, implied that John King joined his SF Chron colleague C.W. Nevius in favoring the 555 Washington Tower. The current version corrects this, as King in fact opposed the tower early on, calling appropriately for a new SF Downtown Plan. However, he and Nevius have both expressed similar reservations about Preservationists in the city. My essay argues for finding middle ground between the frequent "go go" of developers in SF and the equally frequent "no go" of their Preservationist opponents. Interestingly, a proposed mid-Market Street hotel designed by architect Michael Stanton has encountered almost no opposition. It's in the right location for higher density and treats the street-wall along Market with consideration. I was glad to see that.

John Parman

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
Habitat blockitecture tower

Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."