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A Car-Centric Past and a More Vertical Future in Phoenix
Grace Oldham reports from Phoenix to explain the city's short building stock compared to many other cities of comparable population and preview how recent zoning code changes could yield taller buildings on the city's skyline.
Oldham interviews Joshua Bednarek, Phoenix's deputy director of planning, on the subject of the city's shorter skyline. Bednarek gives credit to the automobile for spreading the city out, and preventing the development of a vertical downtown. "With infrastructure and technology allowing increased accessibility to the entire Valley, residential and business patterns never created pressure to develop work and living space in the city's core," writes Oldham.
The city also planned for a "village system" in the 1980s, spreading its highest buildings around the city, further ensuring that the city lacks big, signature skyscrapers. Still, Downtown Phoenix has emerged "as the hub of the polycentric system today much more so than in the past," according to Bednarek, and zoning changes in 2010 and 2015 could encourage new height in the downtown core.