Planning

Two Cheers for Cheap

In new urbanist circles, "cheap" is often a dirty word; for example, I recently noticed a reference to "cheap" suburbs in a blog.  I find this objectionable for two reasons.  First, in a nation where many regions suffer from insanely expensive housing projects, we should be striving for ch... read more »

Part of What We Don't Know About Sprawl and Obesity

Numerous studies (such as the one referenced here) have suggested that there is some connection between sprawl and obesity, because residents of sprawl walk less and are thus more likely to weigh more.   ... read more »

Light and Height

One common argument against tall buildings is that they block out light, creating shadows that block the sun.  But as I was walking down Avenue of the Americas (one of Midtown Manhattan's most skyscraper-oriented streets) I saw plenty of sun- just not on my side of the street.  What was go... read more »

The pros and cons of elevator suburbs

As I was looking through my Twitter feed last night, I noticed an article on Canada's "elevator suburbs"- suburban streets (often, but not always, in low-income areas) filled with mid-and high-rise apartment buildings and shops, with lower-density housing on side streets.  How do these places s... read more »

Escapades on Lebanon’s North Yungas Road

This road offers a classical example of urban planning gone wrong and a real life illustration of the intricate relationship between the evolution of road infrastructure and that of society as a whole.   ... read more »

No, We Don't Need Walk-Ups (Or At Least Not Just Walk-Ups)

In reading arguments about Washington's height limits, one anti-height argument that I occasionally see is: "We don't need height for density-  we can just build 5-6 story buildings."  These kind of "walk-up" buildings typically can't afford elevators (except maybe at the high end of this ... read more »

Good trees, bad trees

Normally, trees on a street are a good thing.  Good trees (like this row of trees in Forest Hills, Queens) provide shade for a sidewalk.  But not all trees are so-well behaved.  Where there is no sidewalk, a tree can actually endanger pedestrians by preventing them from walking on gra... read more »