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Visualizing Density Pap/Cdr Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1558441712
ISBN-10: 1558441719
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title of 2007


This beautiful book by Julie Campbell and Alex S. MacLean is an excellent reference for coming to grips with that slippery but important issue, density. Density can have both positive and negative connotations -- and effects -- depending on its context and execution. The photos in Visualizing Density illustrate this wonderfully, and can help us get a better mental grasp on the variety of ways people can live at a variety of different density levels. --Post Carbon Cities


This vivid and visual book is one of the essential guides to understanding the concept of density. It provides aerial photos and street pattern maps for the entire range of housing density in America from 0.2 units per acre in Beverly Hills to nearly 300 units per acre in New York City. In this book version of the 2007 Planetizen Top Website: Visualizing Density, Campoli presents accurate descriptions of density and land use patterns in the United States, and offers the stepping stones to planning and designing for a society of greater density. MacLean s beautiful and varied aerial photography gives an impressive view of hundreds of parts of the country and, at the same time, a disturbing look at the wasteful development pattern that has persevered in the U.S. for decades. --Planetizen Top 10 Books for 2008
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Pap/Cdr edition (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558441719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558441712
  • Product Dimensions: 11.5 x 9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,339 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The book aims to link perceived density to measured density by providing a catalogue of 250 neighbourhoods from the US, each example illustrated with four aerial images, a street pattern diagram and a dwelling density measure in units per acre. This is not an uncommon attempt to provide a tool helping the understanding of the relationship between urban density measures and built form outcomes, several such catalogues having been published in the last decades internationally.

The strength of this particular density catalogue is the extensive high quality aerial imagery. However, there are many limitations to its usefulness. Firstly, we normally perceive neighbourhoods from ground level, not from the air, but no eye level imagery is provided. The second key problem is that scale, a key aspect of any density measure, is not consistently used. While the book refers to neighbourhoods, the provided density measure of units per acres has been often calculated for a single block only, and is not clear whether is net or gross. For homogeneous suburban neighbourhoods this is not a major problem, but for the diverse inner urban areas the density of a single block can widely differ from that of the neighbourhood. Thirdly, it would have been fair to warn the reader of the multiple limitations of the used density measure of units per acre, such as that the presence or absence of non-residential uses is ignored, that the actual size of a unit is ignored, or that family size can largely vary from one neighbourhood to another, and thus the density of people might compare differently than the density of units.
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Format: Paperback
The most interesting part of this book is the pictures that comprise the second half of the book. For dozens of different density levels (ranging from less than one dwelling unit per acre to over 200 units per acre) the book shows photographs of several examples. Usually, the book shows both attractive and less attractive examples of a given density.

These pictures reveal a variety of surprises. For example, when one thinks of houses looking as if they are packed together, one might think of high density- but where big houses are next to each other instead of being separated by trees or grass, they can appear unpleasantly crammed even at one or two units per acre. On the other hand, a tree canopy can make a neighborhood with a dozen houses per acre look fairly spacious.

Another surprise is that high density doesn't necessarily have to mean apartments or high rises- there are small-house and row-house neighborhoods with 20-50 dwelling units per acre, while some high-rise areas are not tremendously dense (due to the presence of plazas and parking lots where buildings could be).

Though much of the text reiterates well-worn arguments for more compact development, some of it addresses a genuinely interesting question: why do neighborhoods of identical densities vary in attractiveness? The book suggests that less attractive neighborhoods tend to (1) have fewer shade trees, (2) have less variety in housing types, and/or (3) are less walkable (because streets are not interconnected enough for people to walk to neighbors' houses, or because commercial areas are not within walking distance).
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Format: Paperback
I like the book. It does have a scattering of examples and could have more numerous examples, but this would be a different book. As is, it provides a concise look at American building form unbiased toward a specific style (Such as books that only showcase new urbanist designs). In addition, it is an easy read.
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Format: Paperback
This book is far more useful than many textbooks. It very clearly describes its eponymous objective. HIGHLY recommended for anyone interested in alternatives to the sprawling status quo.
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