5 Ways to Add Density (High Rises Not Included)

In some cities the idea of adding a high rise is always dead on arrival, even if the city desperately needs to add density. For those communities facing similar challenges, a post on Blooming Rock offers five ways to think outside the high-rise box.

1 minute read

February 8, 2015, 1:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Netherlands Homes

Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock

Taz Loomans introduces the idea of density by citing the example of Portland, which is pressured by high housing costs, a steady stream of newcomers, and an urban growth boundary. Unfortunately, notes Loomans, "[cities] have done a poor job in adding density in a gentler, kinder way that has fewer consequences to their existing character and existing populations, which are the reasons why people are moving there in the first place."

Before presenting the list of density options not born in the form of high-rise buildings, Loomans notes that cities shouldn’t be isolating, and that poorly designed high-rises have a tendency to separate people from the street and each other. Moreover, "high-rises aren’t the first thing cities should look to if they want to densify. There are a lot of options that can add to, not take away, from its organic vibrancy and sense of community." 

The list includes the following, with lots of elaboration and examples for each:

  1. Make Single-Family Houses into Community Houses
  2. Accessory Dwelling Units
  3. Duplex, Three-plex, or Fourplex Apartments
  4. Tiny House Communities
  5. Shared Urban Amenities

Saturday, February 7, 2015 in Blooming Rock

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

Aerial view of downtown Auburn, Indiana on a clear, sunny day.

Study: Indiana Regional Planning Project Pays Off

The Regional Cities Initiative funded economic development projects and capacity building to help local agencies collaborate more effectively to promote growth.

35 minutes ago - Ball State University

Colorful vacant, boarded-up two-story rowhouses in East Baltimore, Maryland.

States Move to Limit ‘Squatters’ Rights’

A wave of new legislation targets people who reside illegally in properties they don’t own.

1 hour ago - Smart Cities Dive

BART heavy rail train on elevated track pulling into Concord, CA station with cloudy sky and trees in background.

Bay Area Transit Projects Awarded $18 Million

The funding supports eight ‘near-term’ projects slated for completion within the next one to three years.

May 29 - Contra Costa Herald

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.