City What Density Looks Like
posted by June 4 at 13:22 PMon
You all know I love me some density.
…and its opposite, sprawl:
The site makes a compelling case that while density is an important step in the right direction, good design (variation in building styles, easy access to services, streets that put bikes and pedestrians first) is also necessary to make density work.
Two neighborhoods with the exact same density can look as different as night and day. Although they measure out at the same density they are not necessarily perceived to be equally dense. What really matters is how the streets are laid out, how the land is subdivided, how the buildings are arranged and detailed, whether trees are planted, where the sidewalks lead. These are all functions of design. […]
If there is little variation-an even wash of development from one corner of town to the other, or the same block shape or building type repeated relentlessly, it will feel crowded, even if it has a low density. Contrast and diversity, at the neighborhood as well as the regional level are vital components of successful density.
I couldn’t agree more: Large multi-family developments with street-facing parking and no ground-floor amenities are not a good way to build density—one reason I feel a bit lost in the suburbs when I walk through Rainier Vista. Still, it’s pretty clear that good density shares the same basic characteristics everywhere: Build vertical, make room for green space, choose a style that works in its context, deemphasize cars, include easy access to services, and reject monotony. It’s that simple.