Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The Business Case 
For Beautiful Libraries
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The public library is a city’s epic living room – that’s why the French neoclassical architect Étienne-Louis Boullée designed his utopian library as a monumental, barrel-vaulted hall big enough to hold the memory of the entire world. That’s why the New York Public Library is a source of enlightenment and architectural pilgrimage. And it’s why every year 19 million people flood into Toronto’s libraries, many of them exhilarating, award-winning structures. Now, under constant fire from cities desperate to save money, libraries are figuring out how to get the message across that they are crucial to a vibrant civic life.
The business case for beautiful libraries - The Globe and Mail

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Build a Better Block

From TEDxTALKS Opposite to the 'top down' concept of urban design is BETTER BLOCK, founded in Dallas' Oak Cliff by Jason Roberts and Andrew Howard. The Better Block project is a demonstration tool that temporarily re-visions an area to show the potential to create a walkable, vibrant, neighborhood center. The idea and the charrettes to realize it have quickly spread to cities like Memphis, St. Louis, New York, and Boston. National media coverage includes NPR, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Highlights: "Rendering fatigue" and "Give it a name..."

From The Globe and Mail —
Modern City, Modern Partnerships

If you’re one of the 80 per cent of Canadians who lives in a city, chances are you’re fiercely proud of it. Our cities can match any in the world for vibrancy, quality of life, entrepreneurial spirit and creative and civic culture.

But there’s no guarantee this will last. Canada’s cities face big challenges in the next few decades: managing growth, improving livability, becoming more sustainable and making city living far more affordable.

Just to avoid slipping backward, the infrastructure requirements are sobering: a $5-billion annual drag on our economy from traffic gridlock; a $123-billion deficit for fixing worn-out infrastructure. Read more: Modern city, modern partnerships - The Globe and Mail

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From Spacing Vancouver
Chatting About Legacy and the Future
With Brent Toderian

The early contract termination of Vancouver’s former director of planning Brent Toderian has been a hot topic in planning news, local and abroad. To some, he was the right mix of ambition, advocate and visionary for such a demanding position. Others have cited some of these same qualities as weaknesses. Others cite issues and challenges that can be attributed either to Toderian, or to the inherent nature of the Director position at today’s City Hall.

Spacing Vancouver Editor Erick Villagomez had the opportunity to meet up with Brent Toderian over breakfast on Commercial Drive for an honest discussion about recent events, his planning legacy, and what his plans are for the future. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jim is a community developer, housing activist, co-founder of the Portland Hotel Society and a Gastown resident since 1972. In 2003, he spearheaded the Woodward's redevelopment with the goal of creating "redevelopment without displacement." He feels the goal has been realized, and calls the project "a great victory for the Downtown Eastside."

Green's profile is one of several by Andrea Woo and Mark Yuen of The Vancouver Sun, for the Gastown Project. Reposted from Spacing Vancouver.

From francesbula.com: Jim Green battling second tough round of cancer.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Car Trouble

Carfree Cities: The Gritty Details from J.H. Crawford on Vimeo

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Winter Sun Over Trafalgar Square

In 2012, Blue Monday (the most depressing day of the year) occurred on the 23rd January.  To lift the city’s spirits, Greyworld (commissioned by Tropicana) created a special sun that spread its dawn light over Trafalgar Square for one day only. 
Weighing 2.5 tons, and using 210,000 watts of power, it’s a great sight to behold on what would’ve been a gloomy morning. It finally set at 7.30pm, an hour after the real sun. Check out the time-lapse video below. Reposted from Pop-Up City

Full screen hi-res is nice also The Making of...

Friday, February 10, 2012

SUNN: Vancouver Historic Quartiers
The Dollar-Cost of Housing the Homeless

Social Housing should be part of the regional system, incorporated into neighbourhood planning from the outset. 
— Lewis N. Villegas, The Gastown Principles, March 2011.

Alexander Street in Gastown, pictured here, presents a microcosm of a workable housing strategy. In this photo we see co-op housing, social housing, affordable housing, and hi-end condominiums all on the same city block. There is a higher level of social mix taking place on the street than inside any given building.

The Face of Homelessness
Sustainable urbanism must incorporate social housing. Vancouver’s homeless are:
80% one or more of: addiction, mental health, HIV, other chronic
60% trauma victims
50% released from government care (foster care, group home, corrections) [Kraus, 2010]
33% aboriginal
10% Out-of-province
From: Housing and Homeless Strategy, City of Vancouver, 1 February 2011

In spring 2011, a CBC radio interview suggested that the cost of homelessness per person can be measured as:
$80,000 Federal Incarceration
$70,000 Provincial Incarceration
$55,000 Street Homeless (cost on the system–”Housing and Homeless Strategy,” City of Vancouver, 2011)
$45,000 Housed with supports

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SUNN: Vancouver Historic Quartiers
Five Measures of ‘Good’ Urbanism

Focusing on just one aspect of ‘good’ urbanism, we list here several characteristics in the built form that are fundamental in shaping the human experience of place.
  1. Perimeter Block Massing
  2. Continuity of the streetwall
  3. Human scale
  4. Street aspect ratio
  5. Solar penetration
  6. Environmental performance of the street
Read more: Five measures of ‘good’ urbanism | SUNN: Vancouver Historic Quartiers

Monday, February 6, 2012

Vancouver Sun — True Old-Age Security Rests in Bricks and Mortar

Canada will have to do much more than raise the age of retirement if it hopes to guarantee its citizens anything that looks like security in their old age.
With his recent speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzer-land, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has set fire to a national conversation about the risks and challenges that lie ahead as the baby boom bulges into its senior years.
That's entirely appropriate; many would say this discussion is overdue.
But the challenges of managing an aging demographic will not be solved by a tweak to the government pro-grams aimed at providing financial security for those over the age of 65.
http://www.vancouversun.com/True+security+rests+bricks+mortar/6107013/story.html#ixzz1ldWfLS5ZTrue old-age security rests in bricks and mortar
Some of the gravest obstacles that we face as we age are physical. 
Canadian planners, developers and politicians have conspired over the last half-century to build cities and suburbs that best serve a car-driving middle class that is happy to travel long distances from homes, to school, jobs and services. Happy and capable. 
But even aside from crowding on the roads, and the increasingly prohibitive costs of maintaining an auto-oriented urban environment, older citizens often lose the capacity (and some-times the right) to drive a car.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Former Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell
Died Today at 85

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Trailer: Urbanized

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