Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brandes Gratz on High-Rises, Density, & Value of Historic Places

Some good stuff herein:

On the rhetorical naivete of otherwise luminous thinkers regarding density:
It is quite surprising these days that some commentators assume tall buildings define density. Most tall buildings built in recent years have contained luxury condos, big condos, in fact, that don't add up to the density observers think. Even when subsidized -- and too many of the towers are -- they are predominantly luxury prices. Moreover, all those high-rise low and middle-income housing towers that Robert Moses and others built and that observers assume represent "density" actually diminished density.
And how you know there is value in being as near to historic places, which aren't valuable inherently for their history, but for the quality and character of places and for the high-functioning urbanism therein:
Luxury skyscrapers may be barred from historic districts but they grow like weeds on the periphery of those districts, a perverse testament to the value of historic neighborhoods. Just look at lower Manhattan, from Gansvoort to NoHo, Upper West Side or the assortment of Brooklyn neighborhoods now so popular. New luxury towers capitalize on the appeal of the historic district but add nothing to it.