Architecture
April 15, 2019

Michael Beach Looks at the Map

YouTuber Michael Beach (not the actor, but about whom not much is searchable) came up with a simple but effective idea: urban analysis using maps – the maps we actually use these days: Google Earth and Streetview.

With the seamless use of video, illustration and a lot of research, he takes us on computer-aided visits to cities around the would, and provides sometimes insightful, sometimes scathing analyses of urban places.  His YouTube home page is here.

His views are, of course, personal and in some cases overly simplistic, given he’s never been to many of the places his mouse hovers over – but he’s never boring, even if his voice sometimes seems like an over-caffeinated Thomas the Tank.

Here’s the example an urban environment closest to us: North York in Toronto.  This one, literally focusing on the transit corridor along Yonge Street, will both terrify and assure those who wonder what could happen along the Broadway corridor with the arrival of SkyTrain.

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From the South China Morning Post:

The son of a Chinese tycoon is buying a C$5.1 million (US$3.8 million) custom Bugatti sports car in Vancouver, apparently with his father’s Union Pay credit card, according to a picture of the invoice the young man posted on Instagram to complain about Canadian taxes.

Ding Chen published a copy of the bill bearing his father Chen Mailin’s name on his Instagram stories, with an exasperated message overlaid in Chinese: “These taxes … my heart feels tired”.

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Michael Alexander came up with a great name (‘Granville Grind’) for the opportunity to include a stairway from the Granville Bridge deck to the Island below.  It should be a necessary part of the Granville Connector – the City’s name for a centre walking and cycling path across the bridge.

There’s an online survey (here), open houses and workshops through the end of April.

Michael notes:

In the future, they say they will consider an elevator to Granville Island. If they also build a stairway, and call it the Granville Grind, it will become a destination and a challenge. But if you take the survey or visit an open house or workshop, you can push for it now.

Both the City and Granville Island should priorize an elevator and stairway now.  It is, after all, part of the Granville 2040 redevelopment vision (detailed here) and makes sense from a transportation view, providing a link for all the transit that crosses the bridge.

But best of all, it would be an attraction all on its own – at a time when active tourism has proven its worth (hello, Grouse Grind) and seems to be the big new thing.

As Michael discovered at the Vessel in New York’s Hudson Yards:

Michael: “It’s not just New York City that can make stairways into destinations.”

 

UPDATE:  Scot Hein adds this recollection.

I vaguely recall that Bruce Haden, the originator of the Granville Island elevator and stair proposal in August 2002 (hard for me to believe it has been 17 years), came up with that name (‘Granville Grind’). We started referring to the potential as a fitness asset by that name within city hall at that time.

 

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I’ve seen at least at two studies which demonstrate that ‘gentrification’ does not necessarily lead to major displacement of poorer residents.  But that goes against the dominant narrative, so is often not acknowledged – or it’s dismissed.  Indeed, the meme that investment or development leads, ipso facto, to gentrification is spreading, most recently at the open house for the Kits Larch Street rental project:

 

Here’s another perspective from Jesse Van Tol, chief executive officer of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition:

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Inspire Jericho Talks is a speaker series to share inspiration, spark ideas, and explore the possibilities for the Jericho Lands redevelopment. Upcoming Inspire Jericho Talks will cover such themes as connecting communities; respect the land; and indigenous inspiration.

How can we create healthier, happier and more inclusive communities? Keynote speaker Charles Montgomery looks for answers at the intersection of urban design and the science of well-being to explore the profound effect that the way we design our neighbourhoods and cities has on health and happiness.

Charles Montgomery is an urbanist and leader of interventions to improve well-being in cities around the world. He is the award-winning author of the acclaimed book, “Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design.”

Wednesday, April 17

7- 9:15 pm (Doors open 6:45 pm)

Kitsilano Secondary School Auditorium, 2706 Trafalgar Street

Tickets are complimentary; however, registration in advance is required.

Access to the auditorium will be provided through the Main entrance on the west side of the building. The school is fully accessible. Bike racks and parking is also available at the west entrance off of Trafalgar Street. Frequent transit service is available close to the site along both West Broadway and MacDonald Street.

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Occasionally ‘Changing Vancouver‘ will post an example of a Vancouver that hasn’t changed in decades.  Like this lot in the 600-block Nelson (click post headline for images):

This 1981 image shows that not everything has changed Downtown – yet. If heritage status could be conferred on surface parking lots, this one might qualify, as it has been a vacant site for at least 40 years, with no sign yet of a development proposal.

Here’s another at Richards and Pender:

 

These downtown sites at least generate parking revenue.  The really mysterious lots are those that have been grassed-over and empty for decades on high-value sites in the West End, like this one at Robson and Gilford:

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In cities across the world, housing systems are undergoing immense change. Homes are being transformed into liquid commodities, and as such, are increasingly unable to meet the social need for residential space. This has painful consequences for households and urban life, in the form of residential alienation, precarity and displacement. But in many places, resistance movements are growing.

Join us April 23 to hear sociologist David Madden explore the causes and consequences of the commodification of housing, drawing lessons from London and New York City

David Madden is associate professor in sociology and co-director of the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics. He works on urban studies, political sociology and social theory. His research interests include housing, urban restructuring, public space and critical urban theory. He has conducted qualitative, ethnographic and archival research in New York City and London. He is co-author, with Peter Marcuse, of In Defense of Housing: The politics of crisis. His writing has appeared in leading academic journals as well as the Guardian, the Washington Post and Jacobin.

David Madden’s talk will be followed by a panel of local respondents to give the themes of his talk a Canadian context on a local, provincial and national scale:

  • David Hulchanski, University of Toronto
  • Penny Gurstein, University of British Columbia
  • Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Question period hosted by Jen St. Denis, Star Vancouver

 

Tuesday, April 23

7 PM to 9 PM (doors open at 6:30 PM)

Room 1200-1500, SFU Segal Building, 500 Granville Street, Vancouver

Admission: $5. Free for students with valid student ID.

Reserve your seat!

 

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