In a compelling opinion piece on the Guardian, Lloyd Alter argues that our current obsession with increasing the density of our cities – mostly by building ever-taller skyscrapers - might be severely misguided. Alter believes that, without tall buildings, cities can achieve a “Goldilocks Density” – just dense enough to support lively streets, but not so dense that they become inhabitable. You can read the full article here.
As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other. But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place. UNLIKE New York City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like San Francisco does. So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.
David Baker of DB+P Architects recently produced a short video on the benefits of urban density and the repercussions of the current suburban sprawl trend in the US. It provides an insightful look into the resources required to maintain current cities and why density, if properly planned can provide the healthy atmosphere that great cities are known for. One of the most interesting points brought up is how population density is inversely related to carbon footprint – one example illustrates how Oklahoma City with a population density of 872 per square mile produces almost double the carbon that New York does with a population density of 70,595 per square mile. With land still relatively inexpensive, especially in the heartland of the US, the question becomes how to convey the benefits of urban living to those that cherish suburbia.
What would the world’s landscape look like if it were concentrated into one megalopolis? This graphic analysis illustrates the amount of land required to accommodate all 6.9 billion people based on the densities of cities across the globe. The differences illuminate the adverse affects of suburban sprawl.