Good Density: Reflecting on AIA Seattle’s 2019 Housing Design Forum “Density Done Right”

Staff members recently attended AIA Seattle’s 2019 Housing Design Forum, Density Done Right. The event covered ways planners, urban designers and architects are creating new opportunities and models for adding density to neighborhoods. Among the highlights was a presentation by the Minneapolis city planners that described the ambitious process that led to its new, truly comprehensive plan – Minneapolis 2040.

We were struck by the parallels to Seattle- a history of restrictive covenants that led to racial segregation and social inequity, and a precipitous decline in housing affordability over the last ten years.

Utilizing the underlying principal of Race, Place, and Equity, and an intensive process of community engagement, the city has taken bold steps to eliminate single-family zoning throughout and create opportunities for ‘missing middle’ housing in all of its neighborhoods.

Also notable is that they were able to go beyond eliminating disparities and creating affordability- the plan includes target goals for living-wage jobs, complete neighborhoods, and climate change resilience, all to be achieved by 2040.

The New York Times looked at this issue recently: Cities Start to Question an American Ideal: A House With a Yard on Every Lot