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September 15, 2008

“A Pivotal Year”

Vancouver historian Chuck Davis attended that last “Paradise Makers” – the SFU City Program interview series with decision-makers from the past – and was impressed enough to document the evening.  Here’s his report, which he’ll also post on his website, www.vancouverhistory.ca

There was no more significant year for Vancouver than 1972, says Gordon Price. That was confirmed on Friday, September 5, at the downtown campus of Simon Fraser University when we heard, among other things, that “Art Phillips and Walter Hardwick changed the direction of the city.”

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I had asked in a previous post whether she was a “dispensationalist” – and gave a link to Wikipedia for a definition. Here’s a less technical interpretation:

Dispensationalist Christianity, i.e., End Times prophecies – the belief that Armageddon is coming and that, with it, the True Believers will be whisked up to Heaven by God…

The enormous success of the Left Behind books and movies (which depict the earth during Armageddon as a delicious chaos, with airplanes suddenly stripped of their believer pilots, buses flying off highways, blood-soaked atheists realizing their tragic mistake far too late, etc.) helped spread these beliefs. So much so that dispensationalism is now more or less the default doctine of most Southern Baptists….

But you can’t have Armageddon without certain preconditions, and most important among those is a final battle that the Prophet Ezekiel predicted will take place between a satanic army (in most interpretations, a force of Arabs led by Russia) and God’s chosen people, Israel. Most End Timers believe the key alliance here will be between Russia and Iran and that only following a savage military confrontation between those states and Israel, probably of a catastrophic nuclear nature, will Christ reappear and begin his glorious second reign.

Thus the whole idea behind Christian Zionism is to align America with the nation of Israel so as to “hurry God up” in his efforts to bring about this key final showdown.

Matt Taibbi’s summary (“The Great Derangement,” pp. 21-22) may be exaggerated.  But wouldn’t it help to have a clarification – just as Obama was required to clarify whether he shared the stated opinions of the pastor of his church – if these beliefs could possibly shape or influence the policy, or more likely the response under pressure, of the vice-president of the United States?

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I really like this.

A commanding tower on a key intersection at Knight and Kingsway. And like a knight, King Edward Village is handsomely massive. Sensitive too. An architectural Hollywood hero.

The podium beautifully responds to the changing grade at this corner of the intersection.  It’s all slightly asymmetrical, but classically proportioned.

There’s a great story as to how a largely single-family neighbourhood got behind and supported this proposal.  I’d give former councillor Anne Roberts credit.   It’s not yet fully occupied, but I’d say it’s a success – from, as Martin comments, the limited viewpoint of design.

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From an article by Alan Ehrenhalt in The New Republic:

No American city looks like Vancouver at the moment. But quite a few are moving in this direction …

What makes it unusual–indeed, at this point unique in all of North America–is that roughly 20 percent of its residents live within a couple of square miles of each other in the city’s center. Downtown Vancouver is a forest of slender, green, condo skyscrapers, many of them with three-story townhouse units forming a kind of podium at the base. Each morning, there are nearly as many people commuting out of the center to jobs in the suburbs as there are commuting in. Two public elementary schools have opened in downtown Vancouver in the past few years. A large proportion of the city’s 600,000 residents, especially those with money, want to live downtown.

Thanks to Tom Durning for picking this up.

[The article references the 14th and U neighbourhood in Washington, D.C.  See more in Price Tags 95.]

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I’ve been doing a bit of travelling this last week, mainly around the region.  In the next few days, some pics and comments on recent development.

After a meeting in Langley City today, I headed back up 200th Street to make the connection with Highway 1.  And there in the distance were the spires of the new Golden Ears Bridge, still under construction. 

Two immediate impressions: the cable-stay spires are not as elegant or as impressive as those on the Alex Fraser or the Skytrain crossings – though still eye-catching and dramatic.  But if they’re not as tall as one might have expected, the elevated roadways leading on to the bridge are much longer and more massive than I anticipated.

There’s also a new road underneath the on-ramp.

For more on the bridge and its context, check out Price Tags 68.

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September 9, 2008

Not sure why, but Buenos Aries seems to have become the place-to-go.  Friends rave.  Like Dave Salter, who sends these pics of some of his favourite buildings.

And this one from Sao Paulo, of the aptly named “Unique Hotel.”

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