Two items from American media that give an insightful and surprising look at two Canadian traits: how we talk and how we teach.
First, from the New York Times:
HAL 9000, the seemingly omniscient computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” was the film’s most expressive and emotional figure, and made a lasting impression on our collective imagination. …
The story of the creation of HAL’s performance — the result of a last-minute collaboration between the idiosyncratic director Stanley Kubrick and the veteran Canadian actor Douglas Rain — has been somewhat lost in the 50 years since the film’s release in April 1968. As has its impact: Artificial intelligence has borrowed from the HAL persona, and now, unwittingly, a slight hint of Canadianness resides in our phones and interactive devices. …
As the University of Toronto linguistics professor Jack Chambers explained: “You have to have a computer that sounds like he’s from nowhere, or, rather, from no specific place. Standard Canadian English sounds ‘normal’ — that’s why Canadians are well received in the United States as anchormen and reporters, because the vowels don’t give away the region they come from.”
Also this week, from the PBS Newshour, a story that might be surprising to Canadians, given that analyses of our education system will typically be devoted to shortcomings and insufficient funding:
In Canadian public schools, the children of new immigrants do as well as native-born children within three years of arriving. There kids don’t just get language and academic support; their home cultures are celebrated as they are integrated into classes. And strong social services and healthy education funding help too. Special correspondent Kavitha Cardoza of Education Week reports.
Vancouver House is appearing in and above the skyline – in this case from the South False Creek greenway across from Granville Island:
As the New York Times reports Skopje Macedonia has been completely transformed from a 1963 earthquake that required the rebuilding of 80 per cent of this city. A thousand people were killed and another 100,000 were left homeless. Even though architect Kenzo Tange, “a pioneer of the 1960’s avant-garde Metabolist movement” was hired to create a redevelopment plan, his vision was never realized, resulting in a mix of brutualist concrete buildings and Soviet-style block housing.
“Hundreds of new sculptures were put up across the city, and many new buildings erected in the center of town. Dozens of false facades were added to Communist-era buildings, while scores of plaques appeared, attesting to events with varying degrees of historical accuracy.”
Ten years ago the party in power decided to rebuild the city in a way that would attract tourists, adding in three pirate ships on the Varda River in the city, installing a 47 foot high statue of Alexander the Great, and creating a decadent house in honour of Mother Teresa. In a country where the average wage is less than $500 a month, the 750 million dollars has transformed the city and not necessarily in a cogent readable way.
“The project cost hundreds of millions more than public projections and has been roundly derided by urban planners and architects, who say it was rushed into reality at the cost of structural integrity and functionality. ” A new government came into power in early 2017 which has halted all the projects including a London Eye type of Ferris wheel and “recladding of the city’s tallest glass building in a plastic foam and plaster facade intended to make it look neo-Classical”.
Even though temperatures can drop to 30 below zero in winter on the fahrenheit scale, $600,000 worth of palm trees were installed along the river banks of the city, with only five per cent surviving. While the old traditional bazaar area and its uneven patterns survived the earthquake, they are perhaps the only truth tellers in this redevelopment story. To become a city, you have to listen to and represent the citizens, their hopes and wishes. As one local architect ruefully notes that even though the city is bizarre and came at great cost, it is built “so poorly that it is unlikely to last”.
In the Friday file comes this story from the BBC News about a horse named Grey Lady Too that was moved into a house in Lewis in the Scottish Outer Hebrides Islands in 2012. Stephanie Noble who owned the animal moved the horse into the house because “there was nowhere suitable to keep her.”
The local authority (or comhairle) decided in 2014 to remove the horse from the house on the grounds that the semi-detached domicile was not fit for the horse. The comhairle‘s decision was challenged by Ms. Noble, as the council wished to sell the animal. Time has passed, the Council has been paying for the horse’s keep, and the Sheriff has upheld the judgement .
A spokesman said: “From the outset, the comhairle’s concern in this matter has been the welfare of the animal and we welcome the court’s decision which validates the comhairle’s position and actions.
“We will take time to consider the details of the judgement carefully and await passage of the period for any appeal to be lodged.“Grey Lady Too was removed by the Comhairle in 2014 because of unsuitable stabling arrangements.”
Via Neal LaMontagne:
It is an interesting time for regional malls in Metro Vancouver, and two new entrants in the market, McArthurGlen in Richmond by the Vancouver International Airport and the hugely overbuilt 1.2 million square foot Tsawwassen Mills Mall tell different tales. Glen Korstrom reports in Business in Vancouver on the proposed 84,0000 square foot expansion to the existing 240,000 square feet at McArthurGlen, which its general manager claims is “the No. 1-performing outlet centre in Canada…citing $1,220 in sales per square foot per year from his mall’s more than 70 tenants.”
That amount of $1,220 sales per square foot means that the airport’s mall which focuses on sales as an outlet is number three in British Columbia after Oakridge (which makes $1,579 per square foot) and Pacific Centre (which is making $1,532 per square foot according to the Retail Council of Canada. Why is McArthur Glen doing so well? It sells discounted merchandise, its customers are locals as well as tourists from the airport, and it is well serviced by the Canada Line to the airport.
It’s been a different story at Tsawwassen Mills, which opened in October 2016. Based upon the two other mega malls (CrossIron Mills in Calgary and Vaughn Mills in Toronto) in the Ivanhoe Cambridge stable , this mall was built with over 6,000 parking spaces on the most arable land in Canada. Without a close ring of density and with poor public transportation connections from the region, this mall has faltered, with Retail Insider Media owner Craig Patterson saying that he has heard the mall has consistently been struggling. On Ivanhoe Cambridge’s website they confirm that retail sales are only $345 not per square foot, but per square foot of a retail unit, almost a quarter of the sales reported by McArthurGlen.
The CBC has been investigating the fact that “technological advances” have lowered consumer demand for many products, and while online shopping is still only 3.4 per cent of retail sales, online trading platforms have lessened the need to buy new things. Canada may have maxed out on the square footage of retail that can be supported, and Millennials~those born in the 1980’s and 1990’s don’t gravitate to car ownership as much as their parents did, making them less likely to drive to a mall and more likely to shop online or stick to local stores.”
An older mall in Toronto, Yorkdale has continued to draw in customers by offering high-end shops and appealing food spectacles and stores. While retailers try to create “experiences” for their shoppers, the appeal of outside settings and main streets with a blend of shops and services seem to be setting the trend. The most successful retailers are not bundled in a mall but are independent standalones, such as Winners, Costco and Walmart. Meanwhile many malls look at redevelopment and increasing density in the form of mixed use development to generate much-needed income to sustain their retail operations. A survey conducted in the winter of 2017 suggests that 7 out of 10 executives believe that aggressive adaptation to e-commerce is necessary for retail survival. But the bottom line differences at McArthurGlen Mall and Tsawwassen Mills Mall also suggests that discounted goods offered close to consumers with access to public transit choices are important as retailing moves into a 21st century adaptation.
Vancouver House (the condo tower under construction on Howe Street next to the Granville Bridge, designed by Bjarke Ingels) hasn’t even reached its designed height and yet is beginning to appear in and above the skyline from some occasionally unexpected places.
From below the Granville Bridge:
From the bridge deck on a passing trolley:
From Andy Livingstone Park:
From Georgia and Granville:
Two scenes happening at the same time on English Bay beach, metres apart.
(1) Two lads on a log, enjoying the warm afternoon air, the sunset and conversation with each other.
2. Three lads on a log, hunched over, totally focused on their phones.
Does anything say ‘mid-second-decade architecture’ better than coloured panels?
It seems to be the way the profession has settled on introducing colour into the highrise palette. After resisting for decades.
“Gray,” would have been the choice for ‘Does anything say Vancouver architecture better ..?’ going back to the Ericksonian Sixties – and maybe forward. Here’s a recent high-profile example between the stadiums:
It runs the colour gamut from A to B. Totally, unrelievedly gray.
Can any architect please explain this?
PS – those coloured panels are for a church that will return to the new building, but the fritt pattern on the glass is a bit unfortunate. The fritt pattern shows crosses for the church, but on close inspection, has the appearance of a field of cemetery crosses.