I don't think this guy has a lot of experience with new construction
M. Nolan Gray is a writer and PhD student in planning at UCLA. He has a piece in the Atlantic, "Noisy and Unsafe: Stop Fetishizing Old Homes," with the subhead "Whatever your aesthetic preferences, new construction is better on nearly every conceivable measure," criticizing "old housing."
It's not an anti-preservation piece per se, but he argues that new construction is better than old construction. The impetus for the article is that his 1958 apartment building in Los Angeles is noisy.
I'd say, based on my experiences in "new" housing, that is, houses and multiunit buildings constructed after1960, and houses built before 1930, he isn't correct. Most older buildings were constructed to last, weren't constructed primarily out of a desire to minimize cost.
WRT noise, that meant thick walls. Etc.
Plus, so much of new housing, either single family housing or multiunit, is ugly.
Poor construction is a problem of the ages, today and in the past, and yes many places are inadequately insulated, which is an element of noise suppression. But for many types of building materials, in particular wood (lumber), fixtures, and appliances, older is better--wrt appliances, analog often works better and definitely can last decades longer ("How Long Do Appliances and Parts of Your Home Last?," This Old House).
New materials aren't designed to last. Our 1929 house still has functioning fixtures from when it was built (kitchen sink and bathtub), and windows. The 1960s Kenmore washer and dryer were still functioning when we had to move. (The tenants broke the washer. Had we still lived there, it probably would still be in service. The washer had original fill hoses for more than 50 years.)
The oven lasted about 80 years, but the hinges broke and repair was expensive (so we kept the oven to fix in the future and got a new one).
The windows that were replaced by the previous owner sometime in the last 20+ years are all failing. The 90+ year old windows for the most part are fine (or have been fixed so they can last another 90 years).
Granted zoning has many problems, but people are too quick to blame "government" for the problems, when many of those problems were created by private sector influence on government policy, the reality of how "the market" works for property, especially housing, and resident opposition to change of any kind("not in my backyard" or nimbyism) .
The problems are heightened by a different kind of planning failure, but one that nimbyism refuses to acknowledge, that today's population is significantly higher than it was when most zoning codes were developed in the 1950s, and is higher than when most traditional cities were built out, so there isn't nearly enough extant housing relative to today's demand.
1930 -- 123 million
1940 -- 132 million
1950 -- 151 million
1960 -- 180 million
2020 -- 337 million
Those problems are accentuated by the fact that today almost 50% of US households are one person, further increasing demand relative to earlier periods.
I do need to read the book. But...
The zoning problem is a dependent variable. The independent variable is the failure to acknowledge and address that population increases need to be met with more housing supply, along with the simultaneous failure to adequately provide funding for housing for the segment of the housing market that can't afford market-rate housing.
I am not super "math-y," but the recent exponential frothiness in the housing market has to do with reaching a kind of tipping point in many markets, when the amount of vacant housing relative to supply is minimal, less than 5%.
Besides the fact that today's housing is built at today's costs for land, labor and materials, so additions to supply today only lead to price slackening over multi-decade periods of time, as long as demand remains greater than supply even with new additions to supply, prices won't drop.