Rohit Aggarwala details Sidewalk Labs’s community engagement efforts and its design ethos in the development of the Toronto Waterfront.
“One of the ways that radical flexibility makes a difference in affordability is by creating the ability for spaces to adapt to new forms or new uses in a way that’s faster and cheaper. For example, in neighborhoods like in New York, there’s been a great deal of coverage about an increasing number of storefronts that are vacant across Manhattan, at the same time that we have a massive shortage of housing units. It will take a long time to convert what is now commercial to residential — there’s a big barrier to making that change. It’s far more advantageous, if you’re the owner of that space, to get another store in there, rather than doing the kind of big gut renovation needed to change the use of the building. That’s the kind of thing that creates unnecessary friction. We think that if you can design buildings that can be adapted quickly and easily, without tearing down drywall and creating a lot of waste, you can incrementally increase the housing supply and bring housing prices back into line with reality.” – Rohit Aggarwala
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Google’s Urban Experiment in Toronto: A Q&A with Sidewalk Labs’ Rit Aggarwala, Project for Public Spaces