Toronto, Ontario, Canada
photograph by Julia Campbell
Love is in the air for blogger but yours truly is not one to kiss and tell. Instead, blogger prefers to share the love of architecture, historic preservation, urban planning and design with you. Sorry to be such a tease.
Rather than blather on, blogger would like to spend some time and space on urban density. Kaid Benfield's article "Letting Love Rule: All urban density is not created equal," for Placemakers, will serve as our guide for looking at the challenges and opportunities that creating places for humans, in cities, present. The article was originally featured on the NRDC Switchboard (switchboard.nrdc.org). In keeping with our series of letting love rule, when it comes to place making, can we let love, not dogmatic adherence to ideology, rule?
|Rochester, Michigan Main Street|
posted by Hazel Borys
Once again, Kaid Benfield offers up his own speculation, "The great Danish architect and walkability guru Jan Gehl would likely conclude that the building heights shown in the two photos are about right to optimize the pedestrian experience." After undertaking an thorough analysis of human behavior in different environments, Mr. Gehl concluded, "...the most comfortable building height for an urban setting is between 12.5 and 25 meters, or about three to six stories." Mr. Benfield refers to Li Teng's Master's thesis, Human Scale Development. (http://www.bth.se/fou/cuppsats.nsf...OpenDocument) Is the humanness of building size the reason why people love historic districts? There is nothing wrong with tall buildings, they serve a purpose in the urban landscape. However, as a cure for low-density sprawl, civic officials and urban planners tend to overlook the benefits of human-scaled buildings in relatively high-density cities.
You may ask, if our cities are growing, would it not be more logical to build vertically instead of horizontally? The answer is yes in respect to the fact that the 60 homes per acre number by building more high rises but we can also achieve this number by building according to the historic district proportions. Boston urban planner Susan Henderson was able to successfully achieve a density level of 52.9 units per acre in Louisburg Square, Boston, Massachusetts. (http://www.placemakers.com/2012/05/31/the-dreaded-density-issue/) Fruitvale Village in Oakland, California is an excellent example of recently built, smart growth developments at a human scale, similar to the lovely historic neighborhoods. Fruitvale Village is a mixed-use transit-oriented development, near a BART station. The buildings average about three to four stories in height, which give the pedestrians a nice variety of façades along a single sightline. Another great example, is Bethesda Row in Bethesda, Maryland. Like Fruitvale Village, Bethesda Row is a mixed-use, walkable, transit accessible development. One bonus benefit; it is located on the Capital Crescent Trail, a popular walking and bicycling route. The building heights are about two to six stories in height and filled with well visited shops and cafés.
|Luxury high-rise apartments|