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On the Limitations of Density

Writing for FastCo.Design, Architecture Critic Inga Saffron provides a cautionary tale about density done poorly.
March 16, 2015, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Noting that density has been sold by "the nation's development gurus" as a type of panacea for what ails the world, Inga Saffron describes the potential of contemporary architecture and planning to achieve many of the ill effects of previous eras of city building.

"My problem is that its hard-line proponents, especially of the Yes-In-My-Backyard variety, assume there is only one way to achieve real density. They use density as a rallying cry to justify the construction of more and bigger high-rises, in both America’s thriving cities and its hollowed-out ones."

But, writes Saffron,

"What gets lost in the conversation is that density is a function of existing transit and infrastructure. You can’t create instant urbanism or fill streets with people simply by throwing up a few tall buildings. What you get instead are vertical suburbs, where high-rise towers are plopped on garage podiums and their residents are just as dependent on their cars as those living in the leafy ‘burbs."

Saffron cites examples on the East Coast, like Hudson Yards in New York City and cities along the Florida coast between Miami and Palm Beach, as examples of density done poorly.

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Published on Monday, March 16, 2015 in Fast Co. Design
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