Goldhagen: "Ever-Larger, Ever-Taller Buildings Never Reliably Serve Public Interest"

[youtube=]From NTYimes op-ed contributor Sarah Williams Goldhagen: "In a recent exhibition at the New Museum, the architect Rem Koolhaas accused preservationists of aimlessly cherry-picking the past; of destroying people’s complex sense of urban evolution; and, most damningly, of bedding down with private developers to create gentrified urban theme parks.  Some of Mr. Koolhaas’s criticisms are on target — but his analysis is wildly off-base. It’s not preservation that’s at fault, but rather the weakness, and often absence, of other, complementary tools to manage urban development, like urban planning offices and professional, institutionalized design review boards, which advise planners on decisions about preservation and development. "Some historical context is in order. As American cities expanded rapidly between 1890 and 1930, urban dwellers and municipal governments realized that developers, who were building ever-larger and ever-taller buildings, would never reliably serve the public interest.  Professional city planning was born, but systems to vet building and urban design quality at the federal, state and local levels — common in countries and cities across Europe — were never institutionalized.  City governments, suffering the economic downturns of the 1970s and ’80s, gave ever more leeway to real estate developers, and ever more voice and political power to hyperlocal community boards; both groups typically focused on their own narrow and usually short-term interests rather than the broader, long-term public good."  Full article here, and letters in response here and here.