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Study: LA Needs To Design To Mitigate Our Terrible Air Quality

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A 10-years-in-the-making study from MIT's Center for Advanced Urbanism and the American Association of Architects challenges pretty much all the popular theories about what cities can do to keep their residents healthy, says The Atlantic Cities. Obviously there are many complex factors that go into making us healthy or unhealthy, and they tend to get oversimplified. Take, for example, the idea that city-dwellers should walk more and drive less--this is good, right? Maybe. In an interview about the MIT report, its principal author Alan Berger points out that Los Angeles is gigantic and, therefore, not likely to go without a ton of cars soon. Because we know cars make a huge difference in air quality ( we learned that the first time the 405 shut down), Berger suggests the best thing to do would be to focus more on design changes that lessen the effects of pollution, like making more green spaces and using landscaping that acts as a filter for the air. And we do need to keep our eyes on that pollution: The report points out that the city's moves to make new developments more transit-oriented might "actually wind up moving more people into the city's most highly polluted transportation corridors," and might worsen the health problems it's (in part) trying to solve. Berger doesn't recommend against building transit-oriented development or building densely, but for designing development to better resist the effects of pollution.
· We Don't Know Nearly As Much About the Link Between Public Health and Urban Planning As We Think We Do [The Atlantic Cities]
· 3 Questions: Alan Berger on cities and health [MIT News]