“The gentrification of Chelsea was under way long before the High Line, although the park certainly helped to establish as a credible residential neighbourhood an area that previously had little open space and no park.” – Sarah Williams Goldhagen, the architecture critic for The New Republic. This article ran in the September 2, 2010 issue of the magazine.
Having attended Wednesday night’s presentation on Northeast False Creek featuring James Corner, I left with mixed feelings. The draft design of the park provides a significant number of desirable public amenities, however the looming question of affordability hangs like a shadow over all new developments in Vancouver – even parks.
A park loaded with attractive features, designed by a world-renowned and award-winning firm, will inexorably cause a rise in adjacent land values. Without an adequate housing strategy in place this project may end up inadvertently exacerbating an existing problem. The NEFC draft area plan touches on this issue, suggesting 200-300 units of new social housing units be built in place of the viaducts along Main Street and 20% of new residential floor area be delivered as social housing. By comparison, the Woodward’s development (another significant intervention in the city’s fabric, built nearby in 2010) created 200 units of below-market affordable units (roughly 25% social housing by residential floor area), which did not compensate for the gentrification that continued in its wake.
James Corner described Northeast False Creek as what could be Vancouver’s “most central” park – as it is easier to access for citizens who don’t live on the peninsula. Surrounded by so many growing communities, transit nodes, and the sea wall, this area is choice for a park, regardless of the circumstances. Cities should be affordable and have excellent public spaces. In this light, I offer some remarks about elements of the park:
- The park promotes an “informality between people and places”, allowing people to clamber into and plop themselves down within “found nature”.
- There is an intent to connect people with the natural environment, which James Corner notes Vancouverites are already better at than most – due to the consistent presence of our natural landmarks (and rain). Small tactile sensations, such as the presence of moss, are being considered in the park. Tall trees may one day return to the area with the inclusion of Douglas Firs. The presence of rich, educational gardens will bring forgotten species under new scrutiny.
- Elements of the park have been informed by adjacent neighbourhoods ranging from the West End to the False Creek Flats, and from the Downtown Eastside to Southeast False Creek. The three primary contributing factors, reflective of these communities’ needs, are “destination”, “nature in the city”, and “community”.
- Tiered steps will be installed below the high tide line, allowing for each level to serve as an inter-tidal diagram, and doubling as bench seating.
- There will be a “found” beach only available at low tide.
- The park is aligned with the Ontario Greenway, so bring out your tin foil hats if you are into ley lines.
- The height of the hill in Andy Livingstone Park will be advantageously re-purposed as stadium seating to view the neighbouring sports fields.
- A sensuous, meandering boardwalk over tidal zones will challenge pedestrians to take their time enjoying and respecting the water’s edge.
- There will be places of respite, yet James Corner noted that some park management boards close their parks at night (I experienced this in Chicago’s Millenium Park, when my friends and I were hastily removed for exploring after dark). Further, some boards will design a park’s view corridors to place “eyes on the street” such that people who are homeless or whose circumstances do not fit within acceptable norms of park usage do not feel “safe” staying in the park.
- The new park attempts to include and run contiguously with a refreshed Andy Livingstone Park, but the connection is interrupted at grade by the relocated (and wide) Pacific Boulevard. A passerelle (note: not a bridge) provides a gently sloped, slender footbridge over the boulevard, while cyclists will likely cross at grade. As a person who should really exercise more often, I hope I am inclined to expend the necessary energy to walk up and over the passerelle. I wonder if the new Pacific Boulevard will one day be closed to traffic in the same fashion as the recent closure of Robson Square.
- Collaboration with First Nations stakeholders was only briefly mentioned, which I am hoping to hear about in greater detail. The draft area plan notes “The City of Reconciliation framework goals include strengthening local First Nations and Urban Aboriginal relations; promoting Aboriginal peoples arts, culture, awareness, and understanding; and incorporating First Nations and urban aboriginal perspectives for effective City services.”
- There is a raised platform for bicycles to enter the park from Dunsmuir Street, which along with the passerelle are the closest thing the scheme has to previous calls for re-purposing the existing viaducts. In the spirit of creating a place with a sense of shared memory and city history, will a fragment of the viaduct remain?
- Due to the seriousness of the housing crisis, I am curious if the ongoing exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver, titled The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st-Century City will have an influence on the park’s neighbouring developments.
For those interested in future events involving Northeast False Creek, there is one at the Vancouver Public Library on June 13, and another at the Sun Wah Centre on June 15. For those with comments on the park, a survey is available here until June 30. For more information, the City’s Northeast False Creek website is here.
“It took Gates seven years and $63 million to build his Medina, Washington, estate, named “Xanadu 2.0” after the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of “Citizen Kane.”At 66,000 square feet, the home is absolutely massive, and it’s loaded to the brim with high-tech details.
The property is worth $124.99 million as of this year. Gates purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988.Per public filings, he paid $1,080,443.17 in property taxes in 2016.
Half a million board-feet of lumber was needed to complete the project.The house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir trees, and 300 construction workers labored on the home — 100 of whom were electricians.
A high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor a room’s climate and lighting.When guests arrive, they’re given a pin that interacts with sensors located all over the house. Guests enter their temperature and lighting preferences so that the settings change as they move throughout the home. Speakers hidden behind wallpaper allow music to follow you from room to room.
The house uses its natural surroundings to reduce heat loss.You can change the artwork on the walls with just the touch of a button.Situated around the house are $80,000 worth of computer screens. Anyone can make the screens display their favorite paintings or photographs, which are stored on devices worth $150,000.
The pool also has its own underwater music system.The 60-foot pool is in its own separate, 3,900-square-foot building — the large brown building in the photo above. People in the pool could swim underneath a glass wall to come up to a terrace area on the outside.
The 2,100-square-foot library has a dome roof and two secret bookcases, including one that reveals a hidden bar. On the ceiling you’ll find a quote from “The Great Gatsby” that reads: “He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”
For more on this abode, please check out The Independent article here.
Haven’t a good passerelle for awhile, so thanks to Doug Dosdall for his contribution.
This is from Bilbao where I am now, a city that knows how to combine modern and historic!
After a day of walking I also appreciated that the bridge had a cushiony astro-turf like (except black) carpet surface which was lovely to walk on!
Gladys We discovered these in dezeen:
Dutch designer Robin Stam was inspired by the seven images of archetypal bridges originally created by Austrian designer Robert Kalina to represent key phases in Europe’s cultural history. The illustrations on the banknotes show generic examples of architectural styles such as renaissance and baroque rather than real bridges from a particular member state, which could have aroused envy among other countries. …
The local council responsible for constructing a new housing development in Spijkenisse, a suburb of Rotterdam, heard about the idea and approached Stam about using his designs.
The Euro 200 note:
More bridges here.
In September, PT posted the 11th Street Bridge competition in Washington, DC here.
And now the winners:
Landscape architecture firm OLIN and architecture firm OMA were announced as the winners of a national design competition to create a 900-foot-long bridge park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.
Via Brent Toderian and Streetsblog:
Pretty soon, folks in Providence, Rhode Island, will be able to stroll casually over the Providence River on the same span once occupied by Interstate 195. Construction is set to begin in the spring on the Providence River Bridge, which will connect parks on both sides of the river.
The bridge will take advantage of footings from the old I-195 bridge. The highway was rerouted 2,000 feet south of its previous alignment in 2010, opening up 20 acres of downtown land for development and better positioning the road to withstand flooding events.
The bridge is expected to open to the public in the fall of 2016.
We haven’t had one of these for awhile – but finalists for Washington, D.C.’s proposed 11th Street Bridge are already worth highlighting. From CityLab:
Make no mistake: Any of the finalists in the competition to design D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park is a winner. This is the savviest proposal for adapting outmoded infrastructure since the High Line. The four teams that made the grade as finalists to design the thing met the challenge.
Balmori Associates with Cooper, Robertson & Partners
Stoss Landscape Urbanism with Höweler + Yoon Architecture
OLIN and OMA
Wallace Roberts & Todd with NEXT Architects and Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Quick question: Which civic party, candidate or leader is proposing a project for Vancouver of similar utility and high design?
I’m surprised I’ve missed this one: the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge – a footbridge between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska:
I came across it in this piece by Tom Fairchild: Touring by Bike in Cities without Bikeshare.
The city’s not-to-miss feature for walkers and cyclists alike is the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian (and bicycle) Bridge, which spans the river to a great trail network in Council Bluffs, Iowa. When I arrived at the bridge, it was a beehive of activity and a great symbol for “build it and they will come.”
It was built for $22 million, and opened in September 2008. My guess is that (a) it was criticized as a pork-barrel waste of money for a project that would never justify its expense, and (b) it’s now a well-loved landmark. I do know that (c) there are plans to extend it.