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40 One-Sentence Patterns of Development

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

40 more sentences on how our built environment is planned and built


Photo by Volkan Vardar from Pexels



I’ve been reading more than writing lately. Here is my second edition of 40 patterns of development. You can find the 1st edition here.

  1. Suburbanites walk perpendicular. Urbanites walk parallel.

  2. An enclosed block strategy is better than a tower strategy.

  3. It’s hard to convince people that mixed uses, varied income housing, and public transit are ok (see 24).

  4. Storefront strategy: Narrow with many doors.

  5. Sidewalk counts are a better index for activity than car counts.

  6. Contrary to common sense, the great majority of people select their site for social interaction right on over very close to traffic (pedestrian) lines — Matthew Ciolek

  7. Build ground floors with generous ceiling heights to make space more flexible.

  8. Everyone is a prospective small developer.

  9. On the 4th floor, you lose connection with the street.

  10. A community should have a clear physical center.

  11. In 2010, the first nationwide count of parking spaces determined that there are half a billion empty spaces at any given time.

  12. Mass production = mass decline.

  13. If every building is a landmark, there’s no landmark.

  14. Auto-oriented infrastructure costs more to maintain than the tax revenue it brings in.

  15. Shopping isn’t just a quest to gather supplies but an occasion for contact with others.

  16. When you make a car the priority it completely changes the dynamic of the space.

  17. Public space is pleasant if you’re protected from three things: crime, cars, and bad weather.

  18. Long blocks make for boring walking.

  19. All people do three things: move, relax, communicate

  20. “All people come where people are” — Scandinavian Proverb

  21. Regardless of housing type, kids are going to play in the street.

  22. There is a near-perfect correlation between urbanization and prosperity across nations.

  23. Life on the sidewalk makes a city come alive.

  24. A paradox: the human desire for dispersal and the charm of the older urban districts.

  25. If conditions for outdoor stays are poor you won’t see people.

  26. Our streets only become usable when people don’t overuse them.

  27. Every city has a traffic department. No city has a pedestrian department.

  28. A choice to live a walkable life will generate savings (but likely cost more time…)

  29. Life between buildings is a self-reinforcing process.

  30. Demand is a function of price, it is not a fixed number.

  31. Sprawl affects us all.

  32. “Life takes place on foot “— Jan Gehl

  33. If you can only access a social scene by car, it means you’re also managed by invitation.

  34. Engineers are focused on physical things. Other’s need to focus on the people.

  35. “Architecture is the thought making of space” — Louis Kahn

  36. You don’t build equity in your home with high energy bills.

  37. As your speed increases, your ability to perceive details drops.

  38. “Architecture is not, and never has been, about taking one's breath away: it exists to build an environment that is habitable, agreeable, beautiful, elegant and solid.” — Léon Krier

  39. The politics of downtown development? Only commercial development is considered good.

  40. As we build bigger houses, our home got smaller.



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