What’s the Case for Sameness in Housing?

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One annoying opinion I often see while reading the housing development news from around the state is that all new buildings should be “contextual,” which really just means “the same as the ones around them.”

I sort of understand this complaint more in newer suburban communities where there didn’t used to be anything except cornfields, but I have approximately zero sympathy for this way of thinking in places like Philadelphia or Bethlehem, where you see dozens of different building heights and styles throughout the city, and often even on the same blocks.

Where did this idea come from that every new building should look the same as the ones that are already there? What if people had always thought that way? So what if this building is a few feet taller than the ones around it? This city is aesthetically interesting precisely because of the mix of different styles from different periods.

People who like everything to look the same would probably be happier in the suburbs. We shouldn’t let them make our cities boring with prescriptive land use controls like 38-foot height limits and other nonsense.

This entry was posted in Economic Development, Land Use.

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