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View Diary: A list: the legacy of infrastructure of the New Deal (15 comments)

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  •  One thing that must be addressed when you compare (1+ / 0-)
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    the WPA etc legacy of 1930 to opportunities today is that the process of building, well, anything is more complex by several orders of magnitude now than it was 80 years ago. The ADA, individual governing agencies permitting requirements (which often mandate in-depth environmental review prior to permit issuance) probably have quadrupled the time required to obtain permissions to implement most projects. And the more complex and potentially valuable a project, the longer it will take to plan and permit.

    •  Permitting is certainly much more difficult (1+ / 0-)
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      today, especially for projects that would have any significant impact on the environment. For example, it is hard to imagine that the Hoover Dam would be approved now.

      I work with the ADA all the time - it isn't a big deal. Where architects really need to ramp up is on LEED construction, but this is happening, however slowly.

      Also, was as a society need to rethink how we plan the built environment around us, or perhaps better put: we need to begin to plan future development in ways that concentrates it so as to use less resources and leave more open space.

      •  A lot of LEED is hogwash, imho. It's not like a (1+ / 0-)
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        lot of this stuff is rocket science. There aren't really that many new inventions in building technology (except maybe low e glass and polyicynene foam insulation) that need to be taught to architects.

        The best way to save resources through architecture is to pack everybody into dense urban center.

        Everybody doesn't want to live in a tiny apartment building in a dense urban center. That's fine. But we shouldn't pretend that we're being so wonderful when we compost the leftover building materials on our giant lot in a giant suburb with a 5000 sf "colonial" (i.e. not designed for the climate) KB Home on it which is going to house two people.

        •  I thought the apartments in the middle (2+ / 0-)
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          Spud1, plumbobb

          of the most densely packed urban centers were far and away the most expensive.

          Like Manhattan.

          •  When 3/4 of your exterior walls are also the (1+ / 0-)
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            exterior walls of other conditioned spaces, and your ceiling and floor are the floor and ceiling of other units, you spend a lot, lot less to heat and cool your living space. Infrastructure is more efficient. Individuals have no need to own automobiles or use automobiles much less.

          •  You will find a densely developed area (1+ / 0-)
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            in almost every town, village and small city. Three and four story row houses like you find in Boston's Back Bay can be built anywhere, and they can be built to not even need a furnace - see this article from a few weeks back in the NYTimes.

            Exurban sprawl is the most wasteful way for development. The only public utilities that are used will be electricity, but everything else happens by vehicle - driving to work and shopping, driving to schools, driving to see your neighbors. And it eats up lands that could be left open and undeveloped, farmlands that could be protected from the ravages of the real estate market, and so allowing for more locally grown foods.

            •  When I talk to clients who want to save money and (0+ / 0-)

              build "green" I tell them that the best way to do both is to build less. It's so damn easy. Construction cost: $150/sf

              2500 sf house = $375,000
              2000 sf house = $300,000
              1000 sf house = $150,000

              of course this is not exact; there is some economy that comes with scale, but doesn't it feel better to build less, and to build better (put nice casework in which will allow your den also to be a sewing room when you fold out your sewing station). Save money for usable exterior landscaped spaces instead of a stupid lawn.

              But in the US, which often values property on a $/sf basis building a smaller, higher quality living space frequently does not make economic sense when it comes to resale.

              Our society needs to come to value quality, but how this can be accomplished I do not know.

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