Design & Development
November 22, 2011

Re:connect – Time to Vote

Ready for another election?

Sure, why not.  Here’s the link to the results of the Re:connect competition – ideas for redesigning the Viaducts and the Eastern Core (the lands underneath).



‘Visualizing the Viaducts’ got 104 submissions from 13 countries – 75 percent within Metro Vancouver.  Lots of fun stuff, as this random smattering of images suggests (click to enlarge):


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Given the interest in the Port-Mann-Bridge-as-park idea, here’s one place that actually did it.  From Treehugger:

When it comes to dilapidated railways being transformed into parks, New York City’s famous High Line tends to get all the credit. But its lesser known sister project is worth a visit as well. Two hours north of the Big Apple, pedestrians and cyclists have another unique place to go – an old railroad bridge transformed into a park, over the Hudson River … the Walkway Over the Hudson

When the Poughkeepsie Bridge opened in 1889, it was the longest in North America and served as a key route for freight and passenger trains. By the time a fire destroyed the tracks in 1974, traffic had steeply declined, and the bridge was shut down.

In 1992, Walkway Over the Hudson was created to save the bridge from threatened demolition, and turn it into the pedestrian and cyclist park it is now. 1998, the bridge was deeded to the organization. The restoration process began in 2008, and the park opened in October 2009.

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Gaetan Royer, having moved from City Manager in Port Moody to Metro, floats an audacious idea:

Imagine an aerial park perched above the Fraser River featuring two kilometres of trees and green space with meandering pedestrian paths and a public plaza in the middle.

It’s an alternate vision for the Port Mann Bridge, which is now slated to be demolished once the new 10-lane toll bridge rising beside it opens just over a year from now.

The idea of saving the old bridge as a unique park was quietly floated by a Metro Vancouver manager at a regional parks committee meeting Wednesday.

SFU City Program director Gordon Price rates it a long shot – but a fascinating one.

“Wow – that would be spectacular,” he said. “I love the idea. It’s just so audacious and jaw-dropping to think of what the possibilities might be.” ….   People love this stuff,” he said. “If it’s going to cost a lot to tear it down there might be an argument to leave it for now. Maybe it could be done over time.

“People might look back in 50 or 60 years and say this was a stroke of genius.”

Old bridges and railway viaducts have been turned into elevated parks elsewhere in the world.

Paris has the Promenade Planteé, the world’s first elevated parkway converted from an unused raised railway in the 1990s.

New York has the High Line Park, a similar rail viaduct in Manhattan that was saved from demolition and transformed into a popular linear park and public space.

“It’s been spectacularly successful, generating billions of dollars of associated development,” Price said. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened in New York.”

 More here.

And click here for a Price Tags on the Promenade Plantee and Parisian parks.

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Nothing to do with bicycles.

But you can see “how data generated by our very humanity can weave itself into stunning and engaging visual patterns” – and why the one above tells you what happened at midnight on December 31st in a European city.

 This TED Talks video features Aaron Koblin, a digital artist and data visualization specialist, who “takes real world and community-generated data and uses it to reflect on cultural trends and the changing relationship between humans and technology.”

And comes up with some real stunning images.

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Tom Durning sends along some pics of Sky Park, a mixed-use complex in Marina Bay, Singapore designed by Moshe Safdie – he who did Vancouver’s Central Library.

Gotta say that it looks absurd to me, and even somewhat clunky.  (But I’d love to go for a swim up there. )

In fact, there’s a much more appealing passerelle leading to it than the pretentiousness inside:

Charlie Rose recently did an interview with Safdie here – in which he characterized Sky Park as Singapore’s Eiffel Tower.

UPDATE: For some reason (probably a search engine algorithm), this post continues to be one of the most popular on Price Tags.  So here’s a video to add to the interest – an overview of how the 150-metre long pool was constructed in a mere span of 7 months.

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Richard Campbell thinks a proposed project could allow for a needed passerelle across Boundary Road.

There is a good opportunity to built for the BC Parkway over Boundary Road as part of a huge rezoning that is being proposed at the intersection of Vanness and Boundary. Likely through a financial contribution from the developer.

The Cityis inviting your suggestions:

The application is for all residential use, although the applicant has also proposed a 33,000 sq. ft. “community amenity space” in the base of the two towers on Boundary Road, which has not been programmed.  Staff are considering potential uses for this space and no decisions have been made.   Community input into possible uses for this area is welcomed.

More here. 

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Could you get a betta metaphor?

The Fraser River is running 20 feet above normal for this time of year. Indeed, it’s been running high longer than any time in its recorded history – the consquence of abnormal weather and a high snow pack melting later than normal.    Whatever normal is.

So the high water and heavy current erodes the riverbank, undermines a transmission tower that unexpectedly collapses, pulls down the power lines across two major highways and a big-box arterial – and the most travelled road in the Province and the busiest bridge are closed.

No transit alternatives for most.  Result: traffic chaos.

Or to put it another way:

Just a metaphor.

UPDATE: Speaking of the “New Normal,” here’s a chart for the U.S.:

Once a decade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updates its definition of “normal” temperatures, based on the average temperatures of the previous 30 years. Here’s how the 1981-2010 “normal” compares to the 1971-2000 “normal.” Basically, it’s a lot hotter. … [M]inimum temps in Minnesota and Wisconsin increased by nearly a full degree, with Maine, Vermont, Michigan, and Arizona not far behind. On average, normal temperatures increased by half a degree.

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Scott Billings and Josh Hite, video artists, are working on a project inside of the Burrard Bridge.

Yup, inside. 

There’s a stairwell on the southwest end that allowed people to access Kits Point without having to walk an extra kilometre to the end of the bridge and back.  Access didn’t last more than a few months after the bridge was opened in 1932.  It was a desolate space, and even back then, notably during the Depression, the light fixtures and brass railings went quickly missing.  Within six months it was sealed – and has remained closed ever since.

Until now.

Scott and Josh, with support from the City Engineers, the Vancouver Public Art  Program, Canada Council and B.C. Arts Council grants, will be – at least briefly – opening up the stairwell for their project, which involves constructing a device to take a camera up and down the stairwell in a helical fashion, looking at both the space itself, and the ideas circulating around stairwell images in cinema. 

They’re on a search for interested individuals and groups to sign up to enter into the space April 18 to 22. 

We’re asking people to walk in and let us shoot them, either creating something pre planned, or simply walking down to the bottom and back up again.  There will most likely be actors carrying out roles during these times. 

Interested?  Contact Josh at

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This essay – Wal-Mart.  Too Big to Fail – by Charles Marohn in New Urban Network raises the basic question about the way we have financed it all, when we haven’t paid the full price for the infrastructure.

We all have a chance to live like European royalty on our suburban estates, but again, we are dependent on cheap energy, a massively complex and fragile supply chain, and an easy, stable money supply. We have no energy program. Period. No backup plan. We’ve spent ourselves in the public sector, but especially in the private sector, so far into debt that we have no reasonable chance of paying it back. We’ve not borrowed primarily to create things of value, just to consume. Again, no Plan B.

We can build millions and millions of dollars worth of infrastructure for the near-term growth it provides, finance it with cheap borrowing or subsidies from higher levels of government, but now we have to maintain it all with returns well short of what is needed. Didn’t anyone ponder this as we went?

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