As I mentioned in my the other blog, “Is that too much?”, the overbuilt city seems to put so much pressure on our everyday life rather than serve a better function. Also, all the energy cost and pollution they generate seem to be against the will of nature. The personal experiences you described, walking the down Chicago in two different years seems every shocking and confusing to you, since it shows no quality of life to you as well. I agree with you from that perspective of actually experiencing the overbuilt modern city like Chicago. However, on the topic of the humanizing structures, I do think that the urban explosion of commercial skyscrapers and tall residential buildings are actualizing the urban expectation of people.
Although it is true that we are overwhelmed by so many tall buildings and they even make a harder life regarding to the congestion made by them, the city has been developed under the explosive economy to create more jobs. For example, Manchester was the fastest growing city in the United Kingdom in the 19th century. The industrial evolution had brought an urban expansion and vertical development in the city. I do think that without looking at the present situation of the pullulated environment, Manchester was built for meeting create a better economy and providing more working opportunities for local people, which people were grateful to. Anther example is the tall residential apartments’ bloom in some developing countries, such as China, Japan and Mexico. We all have to admit that in order to let all families in China have a home is to build vertically. And of course, the taller we build, the more money will be for labor, since it requires more labor forces. Also, it reflects the economical explosion in both Japan and China.
The reason why I am talking these examples is not to ignore or deny the pressure and inconvenience we have in a super-modern city, what I am trying to address is that the problem we face is just because we never think it before we start to build. More importantly, all the feelings we have about the dehumanized spaces should remind us all the importance of a comprehensive design process and properly apply it to real life.
http://ployarch.blogspot.com/2011/02/le-corbusier-and-modernism.html (Le Corbusier)