An example of mid-rise construction along a 20 metre wide right-of-way. Image from the Avenues & Mid-Rise Buildings Study. Credit: BMI (Brook McIlroy Planning & Urban Design).Robert Friedman, Director of Urban Design for one of the more forward thinking (when it comes to city planning, not it’s mayor of course) urban centers in North America, Toronto, Ontario, has addressed the growing trend of developers looking to build mid level high rises with mixed-uses to reinvent older neighborhoods away from city centers.
This is not wishful thinking. We’re building Avenues of mid-rises, which bode very well, not just for Toronto, but also for any city trying to increase its density without losing its human scale.
Friedman admits to the commonly recognized idea that building up is really the only way city’s will be able to keep up with the demand for homes in North America’s urban centers. Many residents in these neighborhoods push back against this type of development for fear of losing the smaller neighborhood feel when, in actuality, there are methods that can be used to increase residential/ commercial density, increase opportunity for retail development and still maintain a semblance of small “neighborhood” feel to the block.
Some keys to maintaining the smaller, open, neighborhood feel with larger mixed-use developments is to require large glass panneling on the ground floor retail spaces and step backs as you increase in height, making the building feel less monolithic to both neighbors and passersby. Much of this could be transferred to current development trends in many developing neighborhoods in Boston today. To read more of Robert’s ideas, find his article, “Mid-Rise: Density at a Human Scale” on this weeks Planetizen.
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.