In Praise of Density

Norman Foster 

I am in Manhattan. I’m sitting in my eighth-floor apartment, drawing and looking out across Central Park. The phone rings—it’s Vishaan. “I have something I want to show you,” he says. “Let’s have a coffee.” Fifteen minutes later I take the elevator and then walk a couple of blocks to Madison Avenue. We’re meeting at Sant Ambroeus – a neighborhood café and a perfect place to get together with friends. Vishaan is waiting for me. He’s walked his son to school and taken the subway up from Union Square, where he lives. We order and Vishaan hands me a draft copy of this book. He asks if I will contribute a foreword. I know of his great commitment to the subject, and so of course I immediately agree.

Now imagine if that scene had been played out in Detroit or Los Angeles. We would both have jumped in our cars and headed for the freeway. One of us would doubtless have gotten stuck in traffic. Instead of fifteen minutes, it would have taken us an hour, with all the attendant frustrations...

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