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Older, Smaller, Better

Older, Smaller, Better:

Measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influences urban vitality

CHAPTER CO-AUTHOR, Further Insights on San Francisco - Findings from Gehl Studio - 2014

In 2014 I contributed a chapter to the Preservation Green Lab (a department of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) report Older, Smaller, Better. The groundbreaking study demonstrates the unique and valuable role that older, smaller buildings play in the development of sustainable cities. Building on statistical analysis of the built fabric of three major American cities, the research demonstrates that established neighborhoods with a mix of older, smaller buildings perform better than districts with larger, newer structures when tested against a range of economic, social, and environmental outcome measures.

The chapter I co-authored with Jeff Risom considers the dynamics of scale on Market Street in San Francisco. Our team at Gehl Architects served as the design lead for Better Market Street, a $250 million streetscape redesign. Our contribution to the report framed Better Market Street’s public life survey within the context of building granularity to provide a clear instantiation of the trends illuminated by Preservation Green Lab’s study.