Elements of a city code for CoolTowns: Building height

Continuing our look at how CoolTowns are supported via city codes, beginning here, building heights are one of the most noticeable features in any built environment.

While the code pictured above shows height limits of up to six floors in T6 zones (see transect), that’s the default if one was building a town from scratch. It would certainly change over time, or if it were applied to an existing area like downtown Chicago. The point is that this is a code designed for creating places where pedestrians feel comfortable.

What’s ironic is that suburbia is the only zone that typically defies the code when it comes to building height – rather than allow a diversity of buildings, uses and streets, you’ll find a 20-story office building next to a one-story strip mall, near a one-story subdivision adjacent to a ‘train wreck’ of 6-story apartment buildings. That’s just plain ugly. Imagine a strip mall in Rome, or a skyscraper in historic New Orleans. What makes a stroll down the most beautiful cities in the world is the diversity of buildings and uses within a harmonious balance of building heights.

This is also another indication of why the CoolTown zones (T4-T6) are more walkable.

Image from the SmartCode (6.5 mb pdf).