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idle musing: skyscrapers detrimental?

simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
I was just wondering... once you reach a certain height of a buliding, does it really do any good?

i mean, in the distant (or not so distant? dun remember, my painkiller medication has been making me go through woozy periods right now) past i ventured into a forum where there were lots of chicagoites and torontoites hanging out or duking it out. but the principle argument that i saw for the torontoites was that X number of 12 story buildings makes for a much more urban environment than Y number of 500ft+ buildings. (x being > y, forgot actual numbers).

i think i'm starting to lean toward their case. i mean, really, why do you need a 60 story residential apartment (espeically one using the podium design... ugh)? i mean, just looking at the aesthetics of chicago v austin downtown, i liked austin downtown alot more. sure there were tall buildings (i think like up to 30 stories?), but things were at a much more pedestrian/human level. you could see the sky, and the way the view corridors worked, it was nice being able to have dramatic views of the state capitol or town lake and yet still see the great frost bank building going up into the sky. cambridge, mass didn't have that many skyscrapers (nor really boston, relatively), and yet again, it was alot more human scaled, yet still with a lovely compactness and diversity in height.

i mean, i suppose, wouldn't it be better if instead of concentrating such high rise development into such a focused area we spread out more medium/low rise development over a larger area? we could still have the density for alternative transit modes and the density to support businesses and areas in a compact area fashion... right?

of course, there's also i suppose the issue of the difficulty in sustaining such huge projects, i think. not that i know much about it, but i think maintaining a 20-story building at decent occupancy levels is easier than a 60-story building. not to mention maintenance, getting a sufficient size anchor tenant to get it finished in the first place, etc.

furthermore, if you have a sudden residential boom (i suppose like chicago) where you're doubling a residential population in a very condensed area (the loop)... is that smart growth? you're focussing a lot of strain into a little area? i suppose it beats the alternative of fringe growth, since then the city doesn't have to spend money extending services out to the new devcelopments...

and keep in mind that i took some morphine-esque pills a half an hour ago (painkillers my doc subscribed) so my brain may not be wired properly as i write this.
 

gkmo62u

Cyburbian
Messages
1,046
Points
24
solipsa:

don't forget that economies of scale and markets have a lot to do with it. Yeah, maybe in theory there is an optimum urban scale or whatever but remember ground is expensive and in New York, its cheaper to go up where in Austin it still may make sense to go out.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
there's a point where the amount of space needed for elevators exceeds the square footage gained by going higher.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
OT: Speaking of elevators...Did everyone hear about the doctor in Houston who on Monday got stuck in the elevator door was then decapitated? I've been taking the stairs for the past two days.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
outside of places like New York i think it makes more sense to keep tall buildings in the 10-20 story range. Maybe have a few taller buildings to break things up, and it's probably a better idea to use the space around major terminals for tall office buildings.

Other than that - and i think Detroit is a perfect example - why would you want to build a massive office building in a struggling downtown - one that sucks all those people into like a vacuum then spits them out at 5pm?

I think it's better to disperse the work population and keep them closer to the ground. They're more likely to venture out on the sidewalk during the day when the building isn't huge and self-contained.

Rutgers-Camden adopted this strategy. Rather than build new classroom space they bought up all of the abandoned buildings on Cooper St. (the main approach to campus) and moved all of their administrative offices into those rehabbed buildings. They then used the empty office space for classrooms. Not only did they put a new face on the campus but they put some life on that street for the first time in 30 years.
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
933
Points
23
i ventured into a forum where there were lots of chicagoites and torontoites hanging out or duking it out
I been duking it out in that thread for months now :) Were stuck with a stalemate.

I personally believe it's good to have a mix of all types of housing. Everything from townhomes, to high-rise buildings. Just as long as it represents good planning and good urban design i'm all for it.
 

simulcra

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
this is sort of off-topic, but of sort of not...

my whole deal with a cbd.

like dallas has a cbd, which is basically all of downtown (unless you include deep ellum, the club district, a part of downtown). and downtown has some pretty skyscrapers.

instead of having cbd and high density office development and you disperse it around and mix it up a bit, couldn't you improve commute. yeah, i already know that the cbd doesn't hold the majority of jobs, but i mean instead of focussing such high density office development in certain key areas and you sorta disperse them, then you sort of alleviate traffic then because you don' thave huge swaths of people going to a single similar location during rush hour, but rather throughout the city, so...

i don't know. i'm talking about of my butt right now.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
If you disperse density in the suburbs, you get two-way congestion in rush hour, rather than one way. That's what happened to the Bay Area.
 

OfficialPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
933
Points
23
Were currently experimenting with mixed-uses in our town. The goal is to have a 50/50 mix of offices and residential uses in the CBD and other sub-centres. The idea is to get people walking to work and as Wulf9 was saying, you'll also get a more efficient use of the roads.

Downtowns which don't have residential uses are usually dead during weekends and non-office hours.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
A good test of whether a downtown is weekday only is whether the Starbucks close on Saturday and Sunday. I have seen that in downtown L.A. It's eerie to go out at 8 in the morning, expecting to get a cup of coffee, and finding all of the Starbucks closed.
 
Messages
148
Points
6
This is Calgary.



It truly is a remarkable city, concentrated development in the centre, almost instantly transitioning to SFD once you get out of the core. The truly fascinating thing is the LRT stations themselves are still surrounded by low density development, big box zoning and the like. Once you get out of the CBD, commercial development takes on the redmond campus format with few exceptions. The end result is Calgary takes up an enormous geographical area, with very low density to show for it. However, since nearly all jobs are downtown, traffic on the main freeway routes is getting excessive and parking prices are astronomical. There has been a significant boom in condo development downtown, mainly 20 storey high-end units along the river - a miracle, people actually staying downtown after 6! Personally, I like medium density with urban growth poles scattered about, preferably along a metro line, Vancouver style if you like.

BTW for those who are interested, Calgary's CBD filled in for Metropolis for the Superman movies :þ
 

Baud

Member
Messages
16
Points
1
Remember too that there are many gains to going up - additional revenues for higher density can allow a city to deliver additional city-wide amenties (non-market housing, parks, day care facilities, etc)

The more units we can put in one spot, the less need there is for people to move out, buy in the 'burbs, and choke us all with their 2 hour commute. In the future, this will be more and more important.

The balance, i think, is between liveability and density. Once we no longer have liveable streets, engaging parks, sunlit plazas, daylit buildings, solar gain capacity, etc. etc. then the pursuit of density outweighs liveability. It's a fine balance sometimes, but I'd suggest higher is better.

Here in Vancouver we've been pretty successful getting people living downtown in high buildlings - it works.....

.....and as for Calgary, 3 years of school was enough, don't think we should be copying their example.....:)
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
Points
30
alleycat said:
This is Calgary. It truly is a remarkable city, concentrated development in the centre, almost instantly transitioning to SFD once you get out of the core.
Uhhhhh... okay. Truly remarkable is not what I would call it. I do agree that Calgary has a vibrant downtown that still attracts people even after hours and on weekends. It's got some nice attractions and a good setting. But it also has some of the worst sprawl I have ever seen in my life, and that means a lot since I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I think the drive in from the north on Highway 2 is one of the prime examples of sprawling suburbia I've seen in a long time. A lot of people compare Calgary with Denver, and appropriately so.
 
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