Housing Density PDF Print E-mail

Density is a measure of a number of things per unit area. It is often measured in terms of people, houses, or jobs in a given area. Higher densities have benefits including more efficient use of infrastructure such as roads and water pipes. Often higher densities help provide new options for housing. Density is a controversial term. Increased density is feared by those who imagine ugly buildings, overshadowed open space, parking problems, and irresponsible residents. It is promoted by those who value urbane streetscapes, efficient infrastructure supply, walkable neighborhoods, and increased housing options. However, within these debates is a surprising lack of clarity about what counts when considering density, and about how to measure it.

Density Fact Sheets

The Density Fact Sheets are individual, two-page documents that present local examples of housing and neighborhoods in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the surrounding suburbs, and small towns. The housing examples range in density from seven dwelling units per acre, up to 110 dwelling units per acre (du/ac). Each one has aerial photographs, as well as a location map. Descriptions of the housing and site characteristics, in addition to census data--at the census tract and block levels--provide detailed information about each example. The Housing Density Scale posters summarizes the main points of the density sheets in one 18" by 72" poster.

Minneapolis and St. Paul

Small Towns


Download Facts Sheets for Outside of the Twin Cities Area


Design Briefs

Design Brief Number 9 clarifies the concept of density and gives definitions of numerous types of density measures from parcel to metropolitan scales. It also deals with the related issue of the physical intensity of development on a site.