Saturday, March 31, 2012

From The Atlantic Cities
The True Cost of Unwalkable Streets

Perhaps the single most alarming public health trend in the United States today is the dramatic rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese, bringing serious risks of heart disease, diabetes and other consequences leading to life impairment and premature death. This is bad enough as it is, but I contend that it is particularly unfortunate that we do not sufficiently recognize the extent to which these trends are caused by environmental factors, particularly the shape of our built environment.

Read more: The True Cost of Unwalkable Streets - Commute - The Atlantic Cities

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

City Builder Book Club —
Roberta Brandes Gratz on
‘Gradual Money and Cataclysmic Money’

Putting it figuratively, insofar as their effects on most city streets and districts are concerned, three kinds of money behave not like irrigation systems, bringing life-giving streams to feed steady, continual growth. Instead, they behave like manifestations of malevolent climates beyond the control of man – affording either searing droughts or torrential, eroding floods.”
We encourage you to leave comments on our blog letting us know what you think of the book as we read it together!
City Builder Book Club » Death and Life of Great American Cities 

Monday, March 26, 2012

From Spacing Vancouver — Price Points:
The Social Life of a Small Urban Place

It is one of the most extravagant public spaces in Vancouver - if measured by the care and cost of its design. And yet it feels lifeless, barely used, in the heart of the city's business district.Yazmín Hernández Bañuelas, Daniel Martin and Kevin Jingyi Zhang explain why. They are all SCARP* students in a course conducted by Larry Beasley - and produced this video as their assignment: an analysis of a chosen urban space in the city's core.

Price Points: The Social Life of a Small Urban Place « Spacing Vancouver

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Museum of Modern Art ‒
A Tour of New York City with Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera. Production and Manufacture of Engine and Transmission from the mural cycle Detroit Industry. 1932–33. Fresco, approx. 17' 8 5/8" x 45' 1/4" (5.4 x 13.72 m). The Detroit Institute of Arts. © 2012 Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, México, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Diego Rivera was enthralled with New York City from the moment he arrived here in November 1931, six weeks before the opening of his retrospective exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art. Fascinated by modern technology, he felt an immediate connection to the city, which at the time was in the throes of one of the largest construction booms in U.S. history, known as the skyscraper race. Rivera funneled his fascination into the creation of three New York–themed portable murals, which were included in his 1931–32 MoMA show. Two of these fresco panels, as well as an 8-foot drawing for the third, are currently on view in the exhibition Diego Rivera: Murals for The Museum of Modern Art. We have identified most of the sites referenced in these works, and with this information plotted the various places Rivera visited while here. You can compare present-day views of these sites with photos taken around the time of the artist’s visit on the exhibition’s website.

MoMA | A Tour of New York City with Diego Rivera

Friday, March 23, 2012

City Lights at MOV Visitors will get a glimpse of Vancouver’s big city lights of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in this exhibition of the Museum Of Vancouver’s neon sign collection. The remarkable signs, some lit for the first time since they were rescued from the junk yard, are accompanied by the tale of how the city went through a war of aesthetics that resulted in a transition of the very way Vancouver imagines itself. To Sunday August 12, 2012.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From The Pop-Up City
The Urban Apartment As A Pinhole Camera is an experimental and dreamy visual project by the Paris-based photographers and camera men Romain Alary and Antoine Levi. The project uses a primitive technique: the Camera Obscura. Applied to an original scale, the project is based on projection from the outside to the inside. Two layers are merging while the landscapes become the background of the interior. The results are awesome. Here’s episode 1, ‘Pushkar, India’:

Ghat from Romain A on Vimeo.

Exploring new ways to enhance their photography skills, Alary and Levi darken an entire space, blocking out all of the light except for a small beam from the window. They use stationary DSLR cameras to capture the imagery as the outside landscape merges with the indoor space. The men are looking for new places they could use with interesting views, so give them a shout if you’d like your apartment to become the set of a new episode. Click here to check out the series.

The Urban Apartment As A Pinhole Camera — The Pop-Up City

Monday, March 19, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
Placemaking for Communities

In 2006, we asked people how they define “Placemaking.” The response–over 750 submissions from all corners of the globe–was overwhelming. The following selection highlights some of the best definitions and demonstrates the diversity, and surprising commonalities, in the hundreds of responses we received.
Placemaking is…
“…making Public Space a Living Space.”
“…a dynamic human function: it is an act of liberation, of staking claim, and of beautification; it is true human empowerment.”
“…creating for everybody.”
“…opening your heart to the beauty of a community.”
“…the seed of democracy.”
“…recognizing that cities are not just a collection of people but can be places of beauty and innovation.”
“…feeling like you belong here.”
“…thoughtful design.”
“…designing a public space that can be used by the community as a meeting place for communication, fun, relaxation, bonding, civic involvement, to name a few.”
“…creating value, worth, destination. ”
“…an act of liberation.”

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This is the closest approximation I have ever found to Jane Jacobs' Hudson Street of the 1950s, replete with a character Jacobs herself would have had to invent if he did not already exist: Jack Roche, green grocer, unofficial mayor of Meath Street and secretary general of the "United Nations of Fruit and Veg."

— Alex Schafran The Rocky Road to Dublin reposted from

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Urban design is, really, the language of the city. When you walk down the street everything you see has been designed."

United States, United Kingdom 2011
DIR Gary Hustwit
CAST Sir Norman Foster, Amanda Burden, Alejandro Aravena,Oscar Niemeyer, Rem Koolhaas
Director Gary Hustwit has an impressive track record when it comes to exploring the world of design. His popular essay films Helvetica and Objectified profiled the mak­ers of graphics and household objects, respectively, by combining smart interviews with stylish cinematography. His latest film completes a design trilogy and hits even closer to home by looking at cities. In Urbanized, we meet architects, politicians, city planners, activists and others who bring fresh approaches to urban living. The film presents invigorating new strategies for meeting the challenges faced by popula­tions that are expanding (like Mumbai) and shrinking (like Detroit).

Top Ten 360-Panoramas of
Cities Around the World

Top Ten 360-Panoramas of Cities Around the World

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time and Change as Neighbourhood Allies — Jane Jacobs 2001

Some interesting thoughts on avoiding gentrification and further thinking on the ideas she started exploring 40 years earlier in Death & Life – read Jane Jacobs’ Washington address of 2001, Time and Change as Neighbourhood Allies. From City Builder Book Club: Margaret Zeidler on ‘The need for aged buildings’ — Cheap rent, adaptable Quarterly Itm-3-2 ITMV3N2

The Sandpit — Reposted from Price Tags

NYC as it might be seen by a seven-year-old Robert Moses.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How the Conflict Between the Pedestrian and Staff Parking is Solved at Nanaimo's City Hall

Walking north on Dunsmuir Street behind Nanaimo's City Hall you encounter the results of a confilict between the pedestrian and the need to provide parking spots for City Hall staff. The sidewalk abrubtly ends and in its place, an extension of the staff parking lot. Concrete abutments are the edgings which send the clear message, pedestrian you lost this battle. Know your place.

Monday, March 12, 2012

City Builder Book Club
Death and Life of Great American Cities

We are reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities over 3 months in Winter 2012. Each week, we will read 1–2 chapters and discuss them on our website. Read along!
Jane Jacobs’ writing style is very easy to read. These chapters will not take you a long time to read, but they may completely change your understanding of the city around you. By following along on our blog and mailing list, you will be able to experience this book’s ideas through many different perspectives as our Guides write about each chapter of this book.
We encourage you to leave comments on our blog letting us know what you think of the book as we read it together!
City Builder Book Club » Death and Life of Great American Cities 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

From The Globe & Mail
Is Vancouver Ready for
Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels?

Expo 2010 Shanghai structure, a crowd-pleaser
for its bicycle ramp running around its double spiral.
Is Vancouver Ready for Danish Architect Bjarke Ingels? Here’s Hoping

Architecture reflects the consciousness of a society, where it’s at and where it wants to go. So when an international sensation – the Danish free-styling architect Bjarke Ingels – comes along and lands skyscraper commissions in Vancouver on an intense triangular site next to the Granville Bridge, and in Toronto next to the modern-tony Shops at Don Mills, it’s important to ask: Will he be allowed to soar in Canada?

For the corner of Beach Avenue and Howe Street, Ingels has been commissioned by developer Ian Gillespie – Vancouver’s self-styled Medici of art and architecture, who hails not from Florence but Port Coquitlam – to create a skyscraper landmark on one of six freshly designated sites created in the city for extra-tall towers. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) has proposed a twisting tower of deeply recessed windows, a kinetic building that resembles something chiselled out of Lego, a gateway rising – sashaying – above the Granville Bridge.

Friday, March 9, 2012

From The Tyee
Vancouver's Demographic Time Bomb

UBC landscape architecture and planning students ponder how to keep the kids, house the old, and share the equity pie.

The Tyee – 
Vancouver's Demographic Time Bomb

Mid density family housing. (Islington Housing, Levitt Bernstein architect, Islington, London U.K. To keep families in Vancouver, affordable ways to own your own home are crucial. At current costs, medium density dwellings with access to private yards might be a solution.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

From Project for Public Spaces
On International Women's Day

"Planning, design & urbanism are still deprived of women and female sensibilities. A point demonstrated by the still unincorporated wisdom of Jane Jacobs."

From Stephen Rees's blog
Walking and Other Small Advantages

Walking is the most important transportation mode – and therefore the one that we tend to think about least. Let us start with something that I found on the Guardian yesterday. Their story was about the idea that children need to know how to tie their own shoe laces – it rather perhaps they don’t now that shoes have velcro straps. That led me to this talk – it only takes three minutes and it is well worth your time.

I had actually noticed that there was a problem some time ago. I had been in the habit of wearing slip on shoes – and while those are perfectly adequate for office life, they can become downright painful if you walk any distance. So I bought proper walking shoes with laces, and found I had to stop every so often to retie them.

For simple health reasons, you should walk at least half an hour every day. Without a doubt the most effective way to do that is to incorporate walking into your routine. Walking is part of your commute whatever mode you use – so making that walk a bit longer ought to be a no brainer. Yes, your commute may take a bit longer. But a longer commute is not necessarily a higher cost – it is actually a benefit under some circumstances and improving your health is certainly one them, of you a re like most people in “advanced” countries and have a generally sedentary lifestyle.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

From Think City
Local Government Financing: Chapter 1

Most local governments in British Columbia are governed under the Community Charter and the Local Government Act. There are some exceptions, such as the City of Vancouver, the Islands Trust, and various resort municipalities governed under separate legislation.
However, whether it’s BC’s largest municipality, the new Sun Peaks Mountain Resort or the Village of Hazelton, municipal legislation regulating the financial scope of a local government is virtually the same across BC – and that scope is quite limited.