The Scalar Transformation of Urban Fabric
This is an ongoing research project regarding the transformation of the scale of urban fabric in cities. Using several U.S. cities as case studies, this research charts the evolution of building footprint size over time (essentially the average size in area of buildings built in a city in a given year), to see what the trends are in building size over time. These trends, when seen at the scale of the city using figure ground maps such as the ones shown below, reveal that the increasing scale of building footprint size over time has led to a coarsening of urban fabric. This is despite decades of research in the fields of planning, design, and environmental psychology showing the benefits of fine-grained, human-scale urbanism for livability, walkability, and other dimension of urban life.
New York City: Lower Manhattan
The above graph shows building footprints in Manhattan, highlighting the more recent construction (since 1960) in red, orange, and gold. Since this period, a scalar transformation in the size of buildings has led to a coarsening of city fabric.