Policy & Planning
October 16, 2007

Temporary Permanence

For several decades, there has been this idea in Vancouver for an institution that would document and celebrate the changing city. The ‘Urbanarium’ concept was promoted by City Planner Ray Spaxman and others in the design and development community, and some may remember the exhibition in the old motor-vehicle testing station on Georgia.
But alas, nothing permanent.
In Salt Lake City, currently going through significant redevelopment, another former planning director, Stephen Goldsmith, created a museum to help the community take a new look at what change means for the city. Well, sort of a museum.

The Temporary Museum of Permanent Change is a public participation project that re-casts downtown Salt Lake City’s construction sites and building demolitions as museum exhibits.

To achieve this, Goldsmith has partnered with Gilberto Schaefer, a graphic designer, and John Schaefer, a photographer…. A lot of what these three artists hope to accomplish is to simply reframe the way the community looks at and thinks about the change going on around it.
Goldsmith and the Schaefers are looking to utilize the mile-and-a-half of construction walls lining the streets as a way to create connections between pedestrians and their changing city. They have been working with property owners to gain permission to build display windows along these construction walls, transforming the plain barriers into a kind of storefront façade…. (More here at Planetizen.)

And, of course, there’s a web site for the Museum, with a link to Downtown Rising.

This site does the job formally of what Pacific Metropolis tries to do locally: keep up with a fast-changing city, project by project.
Maybe it’s time to resurrect Urbanarium, from construction site to website.

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October 15, 2007

Don’t forget: This Thursday at Robson Square, a panel discussion on the potoptype – the international competition to come up with alternatives to the standard Vancouver podium-and-tower typology:

Where UBC Robson Square Room C150 – (free admission)

When Thursday, October 18, 2007 6:30 pm

Who Moderator: Trevor Boddy

Jury: James Cheng, Oliver Lang, Patricia Patkau,

Brent Toderian, Dr. Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe,

also potogroup and competition winners.

Why As the podium tower typology becomes more than just a little typical in Vancouver’s

cityscape, a group of intern architects asks the world for their opinion of this phenomenon.

A successful exhibition attracted hundreds of interested onlookers to view the entries in the

AIBC Architecture gallery as it was displayed between September and October. As a follow

up, a critical discussion between the jurors, competition organizers (potogroup), and

competition entrants continues the dialogue. A brief introduction of the typology will be

given by moderator Trevor Boddy. Visit www.poto.ca for the competition brief.

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The Urban Land Institute

Newly Forming British Columbia District Council

Presents

Infrastructure 2007: A Global Perspective

Monday, October 15, 2007

11:30 am- Registration and Networking & 12 Noon luncheon with Speakers

Join current ULI members, guests, local elected officials and other special guests for this great opportunity to learn and network with the best in the business. Sign up at http://www.uli.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Calendar_of_Events&Template=/Conference/ConferenceDescription.cfm&ConferenceID=2937.

Keynote Speaker
Tom Murphy
ULI Senior Resident Fellow for Urban Development, Washington, D.C. and Former Mayor of Pittsburgh (1994-2006).

Panelist
Peter Chamley, chartered civil engineer, ARUP

Moderator
Gordon Price
Director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University

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October 8, 2007

I always thought it odd, when sitting on Council, that some people just didn’t like good news.
Whenever reports came in that detailed how we were making progress as a city, the reaction of some was (1) disbelief and/or skepticism, (2) “It’s a good first start …” (3) “Yeah, but what about … ” (That’s one of the main purposes of the Downtown East Side: no matter what we do, there’s always the DES.)
Most often the reports simply don’t get much coverage.
So I’ve heard about this report from a few people, but it doesn’t seem to have registered:

Vancouver has experienced significant growth since 1990, with the number of people increasing 24% and the number of jobs increasing 14%. Along with this growth, the demand for City services, the number of automobiles, and the built area have also increased substantially. Nationally, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have increased 25% and provincial emissions are up 30% since 1990.

Despite these pressures, Vancouver’s 2006 GHG emissions from civic operations (corporate emissions) have fallen to 5% below 1990 levels and city-wide (community emissions) have been limited to 5% above 1990 levels.

Vancouver’s per capita emissions (4.9 tonnes/person) are down 15% compared to 1990 and are less than half of those for Toronto (9.3 t/person) and a fraction of those of other cities such as Calgary (17.5 t/person), Seattle (12.4 t/per person) and Portland (13.7t/person).

To sum up: Vancouver’s population is up 24% but Vancouver’s GHG emissions are up 5% since 1990 and appear to have stabilized (if not started to decline).

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I’m working on a couple of presentations in the Bay Area this week – so blogging will be spotty.
I’ll pass on some of the fun stuff I get – like this article from the Times of London on the impact of Paris’s le velib:

If you are on the hunt for love in Paris, forget cafés and art galleries and rent a bicycle instead. Residents and visitors have found that the city’s new self-service bike scheme offers the best chance of flirting with strangers.
The emergence of a two-wheeled mating service has been one of several unintended consequences of the runaway success of le Vélib’, the sturdy grey bicyclettes that the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, unleashed on the streets in mid-July.

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Admit it, as much as we may admire the winners of prestigious architecture awards, what we love are the losers – those projects so bad, they are worthy of their own kind of recognition.
Hence, the Carbuncle Cup. 
Launched last year by “BD” – an architectural website in Britain – “the Carbuncle Cup is to the Stirling Prize what the Golden Raspberries are to the Oscars.”  This year’s nominees are here
A sample:

It’s Opal Court in Leicester, by Stephen George. 
And another, “More London,” an office complex by Foster and Partners:

It was nominated by Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic of the Financial Times, who writes:

Reasons to hate More London: More Toronto, Less London. Corporate facelessness, slick and facile glass and steel in a sea of ill-conceived and sinister public space, all CCTV, chain sandwich shops and overchlorinated fountains.

More Toronto?  That’s pretty low, Edwin.

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Some fine comments by Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail on Al Gore’s presentation last Saturday, and the Gateway protest out front:

VANCOUVER — As people arrived at the Bayshore Hotel Saturday night to hear Al Gore speak, they had to pass a small group of placard-toting protesters trying to be heard above the din of a driving rain.
Those strolling through the hotel’s front doors didn’t pay much attention to the group. It was such a hellish night, nobody was wandering over to see what all the fuss was about. As it turned out, the group was protesting against B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s Gateway project, which includes plans to widen highways and twin bridges – initiatives the protesters said accommodated carbon dioxide emissions, not diminished them ….
I believe the world’s scientists when they say we are running out of time to fix this problem. I also believe that as global issues go, this is No. 1. … Despite that, our politicians, well many of them anyway, still don’t get it.
To my mind, this is the only issue in the next federal election; which party has a plan to actually do something about climate change. …
Which brings me back to the shivering protesters outside the hotel Saturday.
I’m starting to think this is what everyone in this country may soon have to do: Grab a placard and hit the streets…. If it takes marching to be heard then marching it shall be.
Even in the rain.

So: “Gordon Campbell’s Gateway project.” 
I suspect that’s not the brand the Premier likes to see in print.  “Kevin Falcon’s Gateway project” perhaps – but not Campbell’s.
I’m with Bill Good on this: if Gateway were announced today, it would be a different kind of project.  Certainly one with transit as a major component, not as an afterthought. 
[When will the media start to ask why a queue-jumper bus lane cannot be done now?  Why do we need a new bridge likely a decade away to provide transit service equivalent to the Lions Gate Bridge today?]
I’d love to know the inside story on how the twinning of the Port Mann was pulled off.  My hunch is that Falcon announced it with little warning, and the Liberals found themselves locked in, using goods movement as an excuse, not as a reason.  (Only 6 percent of the traffic across Port Mann is trucks; goods movement is meant to be accommodated on the South Fraser Perimeter Road.)
The Premier, I’d also guess, never thought the protest over Gateway would sustain itself, much less continue to build.  There’s even the danger that by 2010 the road-building projects – Sea-to-Sky, Gateway, the perimeter roads, the plans for Highway 99 and Deas Island tunnel – will overwhelm any attempt to brand the Olympics as green, as well as a sincerity test for his climate change goals.
I’ll stick with the prediction that Gateway will have to be repositioned as part of an extensive transit and land-use strategy for South of the Fraser.

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My thanks to all Price Tags readers who sent in comments on PT 96 – the B.C. Towns issue
Sean Hodgins mailed in the following, with a few pics worth posting – and I invite readers to do the same for other communities they’d like to highlight.

My compliments to you on an especially powerful and thought-provoking commentary in Price Tags 96.
An observation consistent with your theme concerns Penticton.  My family and I biked a big chunk of the Kettle Valley railway this summer and we ended the ride in Pentiction, where we had left our vehicle, and where we spent our final night in the Okanagan.  Much of Penticton is blighted of course by the very stuff you lament about in your article.  But we were rather charmed by what Penticton had retained and enhanced in its historic downtown where their City Hall, Provincial Court and other institutions are maintained, right on Main street.  

I was almost dreading the thought of staying in Penticton but we found it (the historic downtown) surprisingly a very pleasing atmosphere. There are lots of restaurants, coffee shops, book stores and other things that made our morning walking in the downtown very enjoyable.

The second of the two pictures I’m attaching demonstrates an innovation in creating patio space for pubs and restaurants I had never seen so formalized in a town before. 

 

This may be a seasonal adaptation but the construction of the sidewalk diversion to formalize the patio space worked very well and contributed significantly to the animation of the street (and no doubt to the revenue generation of the tax-paying businesses).  We saw perhaps a dozen of these in close proximity on Main Street and its side streets.
Anyway, the main point was that Penticton seems unusual in combining the (dare I say) benefits of having the big box retailers on its fringe while keeping a great downtown.

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