27 February 2010

Thoughtful Density ~ Key to Sustainable Cities

Renée Loth asks in the Boston Globe, What’s Vancouver got that we don’t? Some answers comparing Vancouver to Boston include...
  • "Political will," said Tom Piper, research scientist at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning," and a set of procedures and practices that balance the public interest with the creativity of the development community."
  • "They support the enterprise of development in recognition of the added value that wealth creation can bring to the community," agreed Richard Dimino, president of the downtown business group A Better City.
  • "They understand the economic and place-making value of density," added Fred Kramer, president of the architectural firm ADD Inc. and chairman of the Urban Land Institute of Boston. Vancouver, he said, is a showcase for well-planned, thoughtful density that is "incentivized rather than feared."
  • "Density was very much our goal,’" [former co-director of planning for Vancouver, Larry] Beasley said. An economic analysis showed that Vancouver was 75,000 residents short of the critical mass needed to keep the downtown vibrant. "But we didn’t talk about density, we talked about quality of life. We had to make it delicious." Vancouver’s residential towers are tall by Boston standards, but thin enough to protect view corridors and make the best use of natural light in a gray climate. The bases of the buildings are at a more human scale [...] For Beasley, density is the secret to sustainability, because big population increases create enough wealth to support good amenities and public spaces."
Very compelling. I especially resonated with the catch-phrase Thoughtful Density -- aesthetically-appealing residential space, livable delightful ground-floor ambiance, and a critical mass of people.

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