It looks as though we may have another capacity crowd for this Friday’s Paradise Builders’ panel, hosted by the SFU City Program:

The Challenges of Today’s Vancouver
Friday, February 1, 7 pm
While Vancouver’s urban design generally gets high praise, many are critical of its architecture. Where, they ask, are the iconic buildings? Why do our highrises all look the same? To discuss this, we’ve asked a panel of Vancouverites to address the nature of contemporary architecture and urban design.
Join Planning Director Brent Toderian, Globe-and-Mail critic Trevor Boddy, architect Bing Thom, and journalist Hadani Ditmars at SFU Harbour Centre (515 West Hastings Street), 7 pm, on Friday, February 1st.
Also: an update on how the City deals with design in the public realm, with Scot Hein, senior urban designer at the City’s urban Design Studio.

Book now: It’s free, but reservations are required. Email or call 778-782.5100.
Assigned reading: Brent Toderian did his blog post at Planetizen on whether Vancouver suffers an icon deficit. Lots of response. And Trevor Boddy in his Globe and Mail column took on the question of whether Robson Square (certified iconic) needs a clamshell.


  1. “While Vancouver’s urban design generally gets high praise . . .
    “High praise . . . ” From whom?
    Urban design is the art of creating public urban space. Yale Town Steps are quite neat but one step does not an amenable city make.
    Nigh on impossible it may be in an as built setting, urban design describes networks of interconnected purposeful pedestrian places located for the convenience of close by residents.
    It is not, sin embargo, impossible when development starts from scratch. And development started from scratch around the shores of False Creek. And yet regaled with amorphous green splotches and a few paved areas there is no recognizable concept of public urban place anywhere along those shores.
    “. . . at the City’s urban Design Studio.” What’s that?

  2. Suggestion to . . . the City’s urban Design Studio . . .
    Decommission Pacific Boulevard.
    Connect the isolated Concord development to the real city with an interactive network of public urban spaces: shore-to-shore.
    Thanqu . . .

  3. “no recognizable concept of public urban place anywhere along those shores”
    The seawall is one the city’s great amenities.

  4. i think trevor brody needs to get his facts straight. the project looks nothing like a clam shell (at least to me) and its supposed to cost 40 million not 87.
    nonetheless, i think the roof idea has serious potential. i would imagine it would have the same affect as the roof over the concourse at SFU. it’s the only place that has any outdoor life at the university (another erickson concrete wonder…)

  5. Agreed that the roof over Robson Square could work well. The main thing is to get rid of the domed “umbrellas” and hedges that prevent pedestrians on Robson from even noticing that there’s anything beneath them. That in and of itself would help significantly – and that’s a minimal change.
    The roof could be a “modern” interpretation of Erickson’s “space-frame” roof over the Law Courts atrium. The glass panels on the new roof could form a diagrid – like on Norman Foster’s British Museum roof and other similar installations – just as Erickson’s space-frame also relies on triangular forms in its structure.

  6. WRT a lack of public “urban” space along the seawall, maybe the comment is referring to the Concord lands and other shoreline developments as being too “natural” or “suburban” – i.e. not building tall right to the water to provide a hard edge to the junture of land and water. The only places where you see that contrast is at Granville Island and at Canada Place.

  7. am i the only one who thinks that we already have a ‘domed Robson’ just called another name: Pacific Center?
    Robson already consists of the identical shopping experience. The only thing that differentiates it is the fact that it DOESNT have a roof. Cant we just leave it that way?
    Its Vancouver. If you come here expect a little rain. The few times a year that the sun is shining beautifully people should be able to enjoy it while shopping.

  8. Although there were plans to introduce retail into the 800 block of Robson some years ago (in the form of two glass pavillions – one where the treed knoll is located on the SE corner with Hornby and one on the NW corner with Howe), I doubt the current proposal includes the addition of retail to Robson Street. I think it is more aimed at providing a sheltered public gathering place – which, if built, would probably end up being the location of choice for the protests and demonstrations in the event of rain (a stone’s throw from the Art Gallery steps).

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