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The vertical city

We often talk about agglomeration economies in terms of their horizontal clustering within cities. But a new paper in the Journal of Urban Economics – summarized here by Richard Florida – has looked at the other dimension: the vertical clustering of economic activity within tall buildings. 

Here is an excerpt from Florida’s piece in CityLab:

Economic activity is also sorted vertically, with higher-profile and more profitable firms occupying higher building floors. Law offices are disproportionately represented on the highest floors, taking up more than a third of floor space above the 40th floor, compared to 12 percent of floor space between the second and 40th floors. Finance, insurance, and real estate take up roughly 20 percent of floor space above the 40th floor, compared to 23 percent between the second and 40th floors. Business services, engineering, and miscellaneous other industries are also more likely to take up more space below the 40th floor.

The other takeaway is that there appears to be a greater rent premium attached to higher floors (vertical movement) than for being located closer to the central business district (horizontal movement). This surprised me. But I also don’t have access to the full paper. Is the dataset just US cities?

Nevertheless, the idea of a vertical city interests me a lot. And I agree with the authors of the report that, for perhaps obvious reasons, it is far less studied compared to horizontal development patterns.

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