How Los Angeles Can Design for Density

Good urban design can make growth more appealing.
March 1, 2017, 8am PST | Elana Eden
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Amid the debate over growth and development in Los Angeles, urban designer Gerhard Mayer takes to Streetsblog LA to write, "The public resistance we are feeling against change is partially because we, the design profession, have not offered better ways to live in our cities"—nor does policy exist to support them.

Rather than defaulting to "extremes"—single-family houses and skyscrapers—he suggests that Los Angeles borrow from Europe and reorient itself to building "multiple types of dwellings for a variety of situations and income levels."

Two of what Mayer calls the "missing middle buildings" are the row house and the perimeter apartment block.

Row houses—which are banned in L.A.—are "the ideal single family house type near transit, and as such, they are the workhorses of a comfortable city," he writes. They "perfectly mediate between an urban core and a single family neighborhood," and "can achieve the minimum density required to run efficient, economically self-sustaining public transit."

Perimeter apartments "only line the edges against the streets, but inside the block there is a green courtyard"—where playgrounds or retail can be sited "in the middle of the city, but safe and unencumbered by automobiles."

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Published on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in Streetsblog LA
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