Density is inevitable. If done right, however, it can also be livable. Architects Ken Ryan, principal of KTGY Group, and John Torti, president of Torti Gallas & Partners, offered advice on how to incorporate parks and green space, meetings areas, foot traffic patterns, and even automated parking garages to create these livable communities.

"You need to create the vision, find the public benefit, pay attention to stakeholders, and find a synergy with the [project's] uses," Ryan advised.

Torti credits Vancouver, Canada, for its dense, but livable, built environment. The city strategically added 100,000 housing units from 1960 to 2000 with a combination of low- and high-rise buildings and vast parks. And unlike many U.S. cities, Vancouver has been able to draw families with children. He also draws inspiration from Italian cities like Rome and Venice, which demonstrate that high-density living can be achieved, even through low-rise construction.