Open letter to White Rock council on highrise “development.”
I read extensively on a wide range of topics including ecological design of urban landscapes. Recently, this item in one of those books, A Pattern Language – Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander et. al. caught my attention. If our city decision-makers were familiar with and acted upon the concepts and ideas in this excellent work from the 1970s, we might hope for an even more human-scaled and livable city.
One pattern, called Four Story Limit, gives a clear and evidence-based rationale for what many of the citizens of White Rock feel on this issue.
It begins: “There is abundant evidence to show that high buildings make people crazy” and goes on to summarize thus:
“High buildings have no genuine advantages, except in speculative gains for banks and land owners.
• They are not cheaper,
• they do not help create open space,
• they destroy the townscape,
• they destroy social life,
• they promote crime,
• they make life difficult for children (and seniors?),
• they are expensive to maintain,
• they wreck the open spaces near them,
• and they damage light and air and view.
“But quite apart from all of this, which shows they aren’t very sensible, empirical evidence shows that they can actually damage people’s minds and feelings.” (followed by four pages of references and examples).
Why then, are we allowing and even encouraging this type of construction to happen when there are excellent examples of appropriately scaled development that make our city a human-scaled living space?
Rick Ketcheson, White Rock