Density Isn’t Enough To Build A Great City
Richard Florida wrote a great piece in The Wall Street Journal this weekend, For Creative Cities, the Sky Has Its Limit. Florida argues that building up (building skyscrapers) to increase a city’s density doesn’t always translate into fostering the interaction, diversity, and exchange of ideas that makes a city great. I’m a big fan of building up (I wish Silicon Valley did a 100x more of it) and I agree with Florida’s thesis. Read the whole article, but this paragraph neatly sums up his point:
It turns out that what matters most for a city’s metabolism—and, ultimately, for its economic growth—isn’t density itself but how much people mix with each other. And there isn’t just one formula for that. It can happen in the pedestrian-oriented sidewalk culture of New York and London but also—to the chagrin of many urbanists—in the car-dependent sprawl of a suburban nerdistan like Silicon Valley. That region, as Jonah Lehrer has pointed out, manages to emulate the functions of bigger, denser cities by encouraging the clustering of talent and enterprise and fostering a high level of information-sharing.
Next March Crossway will publish my next book, Why Cities Matter, which explores this issue and many more dynamics of today’s cities.