Architecture
October 23, 2019

The Width-to-Height Ratio: What Works Best?

Adam Fitch commented on the post below, expressing doubt that we’ll end with a Haussmann-style boulevard on Broadway:

What is more likely to happen is that the areas immediately around the stations will be quickly redeveloped with clusters of 30-40 storey condo towers with a bit of chain and big box commercial at the ground level, ala Marine Gateway and Lower Cambie Village.

Perhaps something like what is emerging on West Davie in the West End:

Your basic Vancouverism – the style that transformed Downtown South in the 1990s: streetfront podium accommodating commercial uses, with separated towers above.

The model is essentially the high-density version of the ‘Grand Bargain’ – low-rise residential and slow-growth on the interior blocks, with a high-density buffer along the arterials (with the unstated class distinction that goes with it).  It’s a choice more likely to emerge from the Broadway planning process than a more simplistic consolidation of density in a few blocks around less than half a dozen station areas.

Irony alert: At the moment, a building-height-to-street-width ratio that might make sense on Broadway at roughly 100 in width feels more crowded and canyon-like on a street of 66 feet, even though the three-storey podium that creates the streetwall alleviates the impact of the towers.

It’s a variation on the development scale that has been allowed in the West End since the 1950s, evident elsewhere on Davie.

Or maybe it doesn’t really matter much.  So long as there is animation, transparency, sunlight and rain protection along the sidewalk, the height becomes irrelevant once we get used to it.

 

 

 

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