Architecture
March 4, 2019

Our Falling and Rising Towers

Towers go up, towers come down – like the Landmark on Robson, going, going …

 

On the other side of the peninsula, Vancouver House nears completion.

 

At ground level, it’s already evident that the podium and low-rise infill buildings – their volumes shaped by the Granville bridge ramps – could have a bigger impact on this downtown district than the tower itself.

 

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Two Vancouver urbanistas – Michael Gordon and Gordon Price – have decided to celebrate their birthdays in New York City.  Help us out.

  • What off-the-beaten-tourist-tracks should we hike?  (And remember, we’ve seen a lot of NYC.)
  • What’s new in the boroughs?  Even Jersey.
  • Shows, performances, galleries, museums?  (Middle of March through April.)
  • Restaurants, of course.  (Food carts too.)
  • Your favourite book about, set in or metaphorically referencing the Apple.  (Video series, movies or print articles included.  Even policy reports.)

Are you in New York?  Would you like to meet?  Would you buy us a beer or a cupcake with a candle?

And yes, of course we’ll use Citibike.

 

 

 

 

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If there’s meme believed about Vancouver, it must be this: A city in constant change, bulldozing its past for the latest glassy tower.  And yet – at least with respect to its historic main street – it has hardly changed at all.

Not the Main Street, of course (originally Westminster Road) but the north-south arterial that ran through the centre of the CPR land grant, from its waterfront station (now, heh,  Waterfront Station) to False Creek.  Our main street has always been Granville Street.

The boys at Changing Vancouver are featuring it in their current post:

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Vancouver is getting a major Skytrain extension, a rapid transit line through the second-largest employment corridor in the Province of BC.  It’s the Broadway corridor.

In preparation, the City of Vancouver is working on a plan for this corridor, and you can get in on the process. Remember, you’ll get your say, but not a veto.  Not, that is, until you elect Ken Sim (or his replacement) and the NPA into control of council, provided, of course, that you live somewhere in the vicinity of the area.

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By Scot Bathgate:

Vancouver has gone to great lengths to develop a vibrant pedestrian and bicycle friendly downtown core with abundant transit options for commuters and residents alike.  Those priorities have been so successful that the number of cars traveling into the downtown core is the same as it was in the 1960s.  In addition, we see all around the city centre the removal of large parking structures once vital to accommodating the flood of single occupancy drivers commuting into the city are coming down.

With such a successful planning approach, why is the City sabotaging this ethos by continuing to demand private parking spaces for residential development in downtown Vancouver’s largest neighbourhood, the West End?

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We all know them and they are popular in cities~those blocky apartment buildings often with retail on the main floor . They’ve been called “stumpies” or “five-over-one” (relating to the condo units above the ground level retail use) but the form and function are completely familiar. Maybe a bit too common.

Justin Fox in Bloomberg Businessweek  describes this building form this way:  “The number of floors and the presence of a podium varies; the key unifying element, it turns out, is under the skin. They’re almost always made of softwood two-by-fours, or “stick,” in construction parlance, that have been nailed together in frames like those in suburban tract houses.” Fox sees these buildings everywhere~while 187,000 housing units were built in buildings of 50 units or more in the United States last year,  half of those units appear to be in this blocky mid-rise form. The balloon or stick framing construction costs appear to be from 20 to 40 percent less than buildings with “concrete, steel or masonry.”

The building method can take advantage of cheaper casual labour , and construction lumber is plentiful.

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The Third Annual Bell Urban Forum

 

Vancouverism in a World of Cities

 

Nearly twenty years ago, ‘Vancouverism’ began to circulate as an internationally-recognized label for a distinctive set of practices of building, representing, and marketing the virtues of urban life. From planning, development, and architecture to cinema, transnational social movements, and increasingly cosmopolitan currents of migration, the Vancouver city-region has become a reference point for new configurations of density, diversity, and new relations between humans and the natural world.

At the same time, Vancouver has become the second or third most expensive housing market on the planet, and it’s all built on the unceded indigenous lands and communities that long predate British North America and Canada. Vancouver provides a unique vantage point from which to view the transformations of space and time — of past, present, and future — in an urban world.

Where have concepts of Vancouverism traveled? How have the images and narratives of Vancouverism evolved? How have these trends co-evolved with changes in the material lived realities of society and nature in the Vancouver region?

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