The Five Thousand Pound Life: Land was a symposium on rethinking land and its value in light of climate change organized by The Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design in September 2014.
Participants in the Density panel drew on their backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture, geography, city planning, and urban theory to discuss the value of density and the forms that it takes — or should take — to mitigate ecological impact.
In conversation with Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP Architects and author of A Country of Cities, Talen, Pope, and Waldheim debate the varied forms that density does or should take. Waldheim refers to a significant shift in the perception of closely shared living space, with dense environments now considered a status symbol, which Talen builds on by noting that this increasing demand for density exacerbates social segregation and separation. Pope suggests that the suburbs can break free from their horizontal form and build vertically, creating walkable environments. The panel debates the designer’s role and responsibility in class separation and gentrification, as well as imperatives to look at morphologies beyond the grid when considering urban form.
Emily Talen is a senior sustainability scientist and a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University.
Albert Pope is the Gus Sessions Wortham Professor of Architecture at Rice University. He is the author of Ladders (1997) and numerous articles concerning the broad implications of post-war urban development.
The Five Thousand Pound Life (5KL) is an initiative of The Architectural League on new ways of thinking, talking, and acting on architecture, climate change, and our economic future.