Kaid Benfield Archive


Guess the density – you might be surprised

Kaid Benfield

Posted February 5, 2010 at 1:35PM

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We know from one piece of research after another that, generally speaking, increased residential density (homes per acre) is better for the environment.  It consumes less land per capita and makes transportation (assuming the density is in a good location) much more efficient, reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions per capita.  It helps limit the spread of development and pavement into natural and rural watersheds.  But many Americans have a negative reaction to the word and to the concept.

In this very cool video from a presentation in Palo Alto two months ago, Redwood City (CA) planner Dan Zack takes his audience through slides of 17 residential buildings and developments, inviting the audience to guess how many homes per acre each depicts.  After a pause for each, he then reveals the answer.  Considering how worked up people get about density numbers, it can be very enlightening to see real-life examples.

According to this post by Irwin David on Planetizen, the video was excerpted from a much longer presentation.  Now I wish I could see the rest of it.  My takeaway: the density number has little relation to how well the building or buildings will fit into the neighborhood.

I wish the production quality were better, but it’s still fun.  Enjoy: