Friday, February 09, 2007

A question...

Do you support height limits in Town Center? Why or why not?

And if you do, what's the maximum height you would allow?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Columbia is supposed to be a city. Build as high as you can.

wordbones said...

Height limits are irrelevant. Good architecture is what matters.

-wb

Eldersburg1976 said...

"Height limits are irrelevant. Good architecture is what matters."

True statement

Anonymous said...

Height limits, far from being irrelevant, exist for plenty of valid reasons. I don't know them all, but here's a few.

Public Safety: Would you want a building higher than the community currently has the ability to safely evacuate or attempt rescue from the exterior? (I have no idea how tall a building can currently be serviced here.) Would you want the community to have to spend extra money to provide equipment and ongoing training to be able to provide those services?

Noise: Tall buildings often need constantly serviced dumpsters. Who doesn't love the very late night and very early morning sounds of trash trucks' "beep beep beep" and emptied dumpsters' "BANG BANG BANG" ? More floors all too often equal either more dumpsters, more dumpings, or both.

Daily Eclipses: The taller the building, especially when there's a collection of them, the greater the obstruction of the sky. Natural light deprivation serves no one other than those with unfortunate sensitivities.

Energy: The higher the building, the more energy it takes to move people, their things, and even water, up and sometimes down. I wonder if super-tall buildings take a hit on energy efficiency ratings because of that.

Aesthetics: If a building is substantially taller than surrounding structures, it can be quite incongruous. Maybe Fellini would appreciate such an incongruity, but it would run counter to the continuity in architectural appearance that has always been part of Columbia's vision.

Tall buildings have their place, especially when they're used to concentrate density to preserve greenspace elsewhere. But I don't believe that is the case here as Columbia's planned density will only be increased by the addition of tall buildings to Town Center without an accompanying set aside of additional greenspace.

For comparison, what's the maximum height allowed in D.C.?

numbers.girl said...

I agree with wordbones. The American City Building, while only 9 stories, is hideous. But it would pass CoFo...'s litmus test.

Steve Fine said...

I too, agree with wordbones on this one.

Anonymous said...

Instead of tall buildings, let's have more sprawling 2-story warehouses, like they do in Columbia Gateway. Oh, and space them out so you have to drive to them.

"Smart growth" would tell us to have greater density in areas served by public transportation. It's more pedestrian-friendly and retail-oriented. Nobody likes that part of the smart growth initiative when applied outside of the Baltimore and DC beltways.

Anon 10:35 is right about public safety, but his other points are non-starters. For instance,

* how would it be more noise collecting trash from 1 10-story building then from 10 1-story buildings? That is 10 times the driving, stops, etc.

* how are ten buildings more energy-efficient than one?

Bottom line: build as tall as possible in downtown Columbia. Make the developers buy the fire department the equipment they need.

The architecture in Columbia is so dated. A little incongruity would be most welcome.

FreeMarket said...

I don’t think the public safety issue carries weight. If I understand correctly, the nature of the argument is that if the Fire Department cannot reach the top of a building with a ladder, that building is a public safety hazard. I would like to know how often an emergency develops so quickly that the building cannot be fully evacuated by the stairs. I can think of 9/11, but even a fire truck with a ladder would be ineffective in that situation. A tall building with multiple stairwell exits and an evacuation alert system should be very safe.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:39,

Non-starter? The more trash to be removed from one specific stop, the longer the process will be at that stop, which will create prolonged disturbance for any resident living near the trash collection stop. Imagine living 25 feet from the dumpster collection area and knowing a series of dumpsters get collected vs. living 25 feet from where one gets collected and 150 feet from where another one is collected and 300 feet from the next one and so on. Each of those more distant dumpsters is less and less noise, less and less disturbance.

I am for sustainable growth, but when vacant housing stock goes unused within a few already developed cities nearby, I think it is pretty hard to justify petitioning for increased density in Columbia's Town Center to allow mostly luxury housing.