Great Minds Think Alike

About a month ago I wrote about three models of urban growth: low-rise suburbs; high-rise clusters amid a sea of existing low-rises; and the magic Paris model of six storey buildings.

If you’ve forgotten the plot, follow this link:

I think those that romanticize Paris do so from the perspective of visitors (not residents) and  focus on the main streets, not the miles of six storey apts behind. Six storey Paris main streets function well because of the abundance of residents within a short walk, also in six storey apartment buildings. These wonderful Paris streets are not backed up by 50×100′ lots with single family homes and two or three cars parking. Ours are.

I made this point in light of our (Ottawa’s) model of preserving low-rise neighborhoods by simultaneously promoting high-rise clusters. Alas, the ungrateful buggers in the low-rise zones don’t even want to look at high rises in the distance, and squawk loudly every time one is proposed.

I was surprised to read in Councillor Hume’s blog that he thinks of the Paris model in a similar way:

As my mother used to say: Great Minds Think Alike.

When I tried that on my kids, to promote consensus, they always chimed back: Fools Seldom Differ.

2 thoughts on “Great Minds Think Alike

  1. Eric: This is off topic so you may wish to move or delete the post but I thought I would take advantage of a Great Mind while it is online 🙂
    I understand the Fendor development at 399 (?) Roosevelt in Westboro was rejected by the OMB. Or the developers request for a variance was rejected as it failed to meet the community plan.
    I am not sure I understand the process in play as almost all other applications to the OMB seem to pass in favour of the developer, the community plan be damned, and I wondered if you had any insight into what took place in this particular case.

  2. Having lived in Paris for close to 6 years, I can say that the Parisien model *is* great from the point of view of a resident. However, to focus on the topography of the architecture and mantra of height misses the point. Paris works as a city not because of 6/8 -story limits but because it works for residents. It is not necessary to have a car, public transit within and beyond the city is exceptional, one doesn’t need to leave the neighborhood to do the shopping, parks are plentiful and serve as a place to gather – not simply a place to grow grass for the benefit of passing cars, etc, etc. This is not a function of height, but a function of a density, mixed use and a conscious decision (at least recently) to make the city livable.

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