Five Points of a Sustainable Urbanism

Daniel Kaplan
Senior Partner
FXCollaborative, New York City

There is growing consensus that highly concentrated, urban patterns of development are more sustainable than suburban-type sprawl. The question is, how to make high-rise, high-density cities vibrant and livable? How do tall buildings fit into the equation?

This presentation identified five essential strategies for creating high-rise, high-density and highly livable cities. 1) Integration of Uses: Avoid monoculture of use and reinforce street vibrancy by co-locating outwardly facing, community-connected uses such as educational, religious or “maker” venues with commercial or residential uses (see 35XV, New York). 2) High Connectivity: Transition from transit-oriented development to transit-integrated development, where public transportation, a vibrant streetscape and tall buildings work in synergy (see MMPT, Atlanta). 3) Quality Open Space: Craft generous, well-considered and inventively programmed open spaces that deliver “light and air,” contact with nature and social focus (see Eisenhower East, Alexandria, USA). 4) Accident and Evolution: Embrace the nuances, “imperfections” and exceptions that emerge as a city evolves over time (see Greenpoint Terminal Market, New York). 5) Systems Thinking: Consider the city as an ecosystem with food production, waste treatment and energy production all working together in a sustainable loop (see Nordhavnen, Copenhagen).

The presentation explored the application of these principles in five exemplar projects in the USA and Europe; counter-examples were also be examined. The presence and integration of each of these five points are necessary for an enduring vertical urbanism.

Accompanying PowerPoint Presentation

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