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City Gets Denser; Kotkin Gives His Blessing

Professional nay-sayer Joel Kotkin gives a tepid thumbs up to the increasing density going up around town. Local architects, including Moule & Polyzoides and Lorcan O'Herlihy (who sadly doesn't have a funny accent), are trending toward designing denser, but more livable types of dwelling units that put an emphasis on natural light and interior spaces. The new developments also put an emphasis on getting people out of their cars and interacting with the street culture outside their front doors. Kotkin, who tends to favor the single-family home model, agrees that these denser developments do serve a need.

"I don't think there is a desire for massive density but a low- and midrise strategy makes a lot of sense," says Joel Kotkin, an urban commentator and author of "The City: A Global History." He often disagrees with Los Angeles politicians, developers and others who "get on density jihads." That includes the mayor, he says.

If built in an underutilized area or if replacing "a crappy strip mall," however, a small condo development is not a high price to pay for a better district, says Kotkin, a longtime house owner in Valley Village. "This is particularly attractive if it brings in stores and other amenities that are in walking distance of single-family homes."

As the Times points out, this mid-rise density is nothing new. The designs harken back to the 1920s and 30s when Neutra and Gill built courtyard apartments all over the city.
· First sprouts of a vertical cityscape [LA Times]