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RE: [carfree_cities] The End of Tall Buildings

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  • James Rombough
    ... If you spread out the 10 million people, the 50% car ownership rate would rise. There would be more than 5 million cars as a result (same conclusion based
    Message 1 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
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      --- Karen Southerland <ksouth@...> wrote:
      > The writers of the article do have a valid point.
      > After living in NYC
      > (Manhattan & Brooklyn) for 5 years it's far from a
      > human or even humane
      > city. There is such a thing as too much density (at
      > least while cars
      > exist), as people = cars. This is especially true
      > in New York since there
      > are roughly 10 million people living in the area.
      > Even if only 50% of the
      > people had cars (which is far from true) that means
      > the area would have
      > about 5 million cars driving around. New York
      > brings too many people to
      > it's city everyday for work and it's incredibly
      > taxing on the infrastructure
      > (which wasn't designed for as many people as it is
      > handling).

      If you spread out the 10 million people, the 50% car
      ownership rate would rise. There would be more than 5
      million cars as a result (same conclusion based on the
      actual car ownership rate).

      There are a lot of people who live in the New York
      metropolitan area who don't work in Manhattan. They
      usually drive to work. Is that the solution, more
      driving?

      >
      > Americans need to concentrate on getting work in the
      > community they live in
      > (instead of "commuting") - this requires a
      > re-examination of our overly
      > capitalistic society. Commuting makes the commuter
      > not part of either the
      > working or living community and that's just a shame.
      >

      How are offices supposed to work if people are spread
      out all over the place? Telecommuting didn't pan out
      as well as its proponents had imagined. Turns out
      that speaking with someone face to face is more
      effective than speaking by telephone or e-mail.

      You are confusing capitalism with poor land use
      planning. Hawking home-made wicker baskets instead of
      pricing life insurance isn't the solution. The USA
      has always been capitalist, but poor land use planning
      is relatively recent.

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    • Matt Lyons
      ... Building height alone does not make a liveable city. Paris, arguably the most beautiful city in the world, is predominantly 5 story structures that share
      Message 2 of 10 , Oct 12, 2001
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        --- In carfree_cities@y..., James Rombough <jsrombough@y...> wrote:

        > There are 4 to 10 story buildings in the suburbs, with
        > plenty of free parking for the employees. There might
        > be a 1/4 mile jogging trail around it -- whupee.

        Building height alone does not make a liveable city. Paris, arguably
        the most beautiful city in the world, is predominantly 5 story
        structures that share a common facade and uniform setback. Likewise,
        San Francisco is defined by its neighborhoods of Victorian row
        houses, not the conglomeration of skyscrapers downtown off Market
        street(though the Transamerica building is a visual landmark).

        > So the WTC sucked the life out of Battery Park City?
        > Battery Park City was built because of, not in spite
        > of, the WTC.

        Again you're missing the point of the article which was largely
        taking aim at the monolithic, post WWII skyscrapers such as the twin
        towers of the WTC. With that in mind this now seems to be more of a
        design issue than a fundamental problem with high rise structures in
        general.

        An excellent post written by Dan Zack on Planetizen notes:

        Skyscrapers of an earlier age were much friendlier to the urban
        environment. Before WWII they were almost always located on pretty
        small parcels, allowing urban diversity of land uses to exist. For
        example, the World Trade Center was located on a 16 acre complex,
        whereas the Empire State Building is located on a 1.9 acre parcel. It
        doesn't even take up its whole block! This allows for a walkable
        street pattern with small blocks and mixed uses, even with huge
        buildings.

        Also, older skyscrapers usually had retail storefronts occupying most
        of their street frontage. This added to streetlife and made many of
        them "invisible" to pedestrians that didn't look upward. They didn't
        disrupt the streetlife nearly as much as the gigantic complexes of
        today, with their blank walls facing the sidewalks and vacuous open
        spaces all around. Didn't we learn our lesson from Cabrini-Green? The
        concept doesn't work for offices, either.

        Finally, older skycrapers had architecture that felt a little more
        human that the modernist glass boxes of the post-war years. Rather
        than vertical or horizontal bands of glass, they actually had
        separate, well proportioned windows for each office, which made it
        feel like there were actually people inside. Something about that
        offers comfort. Thankfully, many new skyscrapers are returning to
        this simple concept.

        http://www.planetizen.com/oped/cmt_item.php?id=321

        > In addition to Battery Park City, additional housing
        > has been created from empty office buildings in Lower
        > Manhattan. Downtown of other cities could do the same
        > thing. Austin, TX has some apartments in downtown.
        > It's not perfect, but at least it's a start.

        Yes it is a start though its a shame that is all we have to choose
        from in most American cities.
      • Lanyon, Ryan
        Personally, the skyline of Toronto is what inspired a love of cities in me as a child. Before visiting Paris or London, no image of these cities inspired me
        Message 3 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
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          Personally, the skyline of Toronto is what inspired a love of cities in me
          as a child. Before visiting Paris or London, no image of these cities
          inspired me like those in North America.

          The ultimate deciding factor on the height of new buildings will be
          economics - after all, it was economics and real estate values that pushed
          buildings upward in the first place, as soon as technology allowed.

          I agree with one point - the monoliths of the 60s and 70s and even 80s will
          not be rebuilt. Many of these were built as expressions of power and
          influence, and were more costly to create. If I'm not mistaken, the amount
          of space by the elevator shafts in the WTC made the building less
          economical. I think maximum economy caps around 80 stories. That figure
          may change now, if anything above, say, 60 cannot be rented out.

          The fear of another air attack also diminishes if the surrounding buildings
          are of similar height. Not only was the WTC out of scale with humans, but
          it was also out of scale with its surroundings, making it stand out among
          the crowd.

          The issue of single-use buildings should not be confused with height - Five
          20 storey single-use towers are probably worse than one 100-storey tower,
          since they will consume an additional 4 footprints. I don't think the WTC
          was single-use, either. I believe a hotel was located inside.

          -TL


          > Message: 5
          > Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 19:08:34 -0000
          > From: "Matt Lyons" <mattlyons@...>
          > Subject: The End of Tall Buildings
          >
          > Here's an interesting article that talks about the future of the
          > urban landscape in the wake of 9/11.
          >
          > I'll admit I've never been particularly fond of skyscrapers at the
          > human level. They are aesthetically appealing from a distance, yet
          > somewhat ineffective on a human scale when it comes to promoting
          > cohesive urban communities.
          >
          > I'm curious what others here think.
          >
          > http://www.planetizen.com/oped/item.php?id=30
          >
        • J.H. Crawford
          ... There was a hotel on the site, but not in the towers themselves. -- ### -- J.H. Crawford
          Message 4 of 10 , Oct 15, 2001
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            >The issue of single-use buildings should not be confused with height - Five
            >20 storey single-use towers are probably worse than one 100-storey tower,
            >since they will consume an additional 4 footprints. I don't think the WTC
            >was single-use, either. I believe a hotel was located inside.

            There was a hotel on the site, but not in the towers themselves.


            -- ### --

            J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
            postmaster@... Carfree.com
          • Chris Bradshaw
            The WTC is a product as much of the transit links, as it is any technology of building technology (including vertical transit, or elevators). The WTC is at
            Message 5 of 10 , Oct 16, 2001
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              The WTC is a product as much of the transit links, as it is any
              technology of building technology (including "vertical transit," or
              elevators). The WTC is at the terminus of the New Jersey train tunnel,
              and several subway lines run through or near it.

              Of course, the proximity of hotels and residences, also stacked pretty
              high, also make it possible, including its "economics."

              But none of this overcomes:

              a) the large scale of the companies who occupied the complex and high
              degree of job specialization and monoculture work environment and the
              lack of potential contact with people in other companies and other types
              of work.

              b) the decision to put the "personal services" in an inward facing (and
              below ground) mall shut out the NYC culture of small, street-oriented,
              individally owned (non-chain) businesses, although many of these
              business exist in older building nearby and in the TriBeCa neighbourhood
              to the north.

              c) the adjecency of the expressway to the west and the decision to
              provide a link to the Hudson River and the Battery Park complex with a
              pedestrian bridge.

              There will never be a humane city without active street fronts, and
              green boulevards and a small-road-ringed park every 20 blocks or so.

              Chris Bradshaw
              Ottawa (wife was born just a few blocks from "ground zero")
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