Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nanaimo's Terminal Avenue, "Continues to Act as a Barrier that Disconnects the Old City from the Downtown Core and the Waterfront"

Nanaimo's Terminal Avenue ravine has been recognized for many years as having a negative impact on the city. It is technically still part of the Trans Canada Highway system and prior to the construction of the Island Highway Parkway, which allows inter city traffic to bypass the city, was the only north/south route for all Island traffic (transport and logging trucks included). It was claimed when the Parkway was constructed that the redirection of this traffic to the bypass would usher in a bright new era for the renewal of the downtown which had gone into decline as shopping mall and sprawling residential development stretched thinly along this 30km ribbon.

Fifty years after Jane Jacob's common sense observations Planners and Traffic Engineers are reluctantly coming to the realization that traffic behaves as if a gaseous substance. You can move it and shift it temporarily but it will return to fill vessels available to it. The Terminal Avenue highway is, if anything, more destructive to Nanaimo's economic development and to the neighbourhoods it slices through than ever. Reclaiming this stretch as shared public space will require calming the traffic and the elimination of the inter city commercial traffic.

These 2006 before and after sketches are by Nanaimo architect Jolyon Brown.

The area is currently undergoing a remediation study initiated by the Downtown BIA. The Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines document addresses the Terminal Avenue ravine and its adjacent precincts. From that document: The design of Terminal Avenue with its unique curving geometry, continues to act as a barrier that disconnects the Old City from the downtown core and the waterfront. However, any proposed design changes to the streetscape will require extensive consultation with the road's current authority, the Ministry of Transportation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nanaimo Citizens Initiative
Opposes Harbour Marina Privatization

From Save Our HarbourA proposal to ‘revitalize’ the downtown Nanaimo marina has been accepted by the Nanaimo Port Authority (NPA) and a final contract is scheduled to be signed in early 2013. The redevelopment would be done by the Pacific Northwest Marine Group (PNMG). PNMG is a company with offices in Sidney, BC. Their website states that PNMG is “linked to Marinaco Holdings ULC, owned by COM Investments, a firm owned by Seattle businessman and entrepreneur Craig McCaw. This redevelopment — as now proposed — would disrupt the traditional and growing economy of the Port of Nanaimo, cut off access to Protection Island citizens, and inflame already strained relations with the Snuneymuwx First Nation. These parties all welcome progressive commerce and development, but seek active involvement in the decision-making process. Save Our Harbour More here.

From CBC Radio Ideas — Paying for Parking

We engineer our roads to accommodate traffic, but cars and other vehicles spend almost all their time parked. All those parking spaces - and finding them - cause huge economic, environmental, and even social problems. Dave Redel searches for a good spot to survey the situation. Read more: Paying for Parking | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio,  Audio here.

From Gehl Architects making cities for people — Densification is the Key

Photo from New Road, Brighton UK. Gehl Architects-implemented streetscape project.
Gehl Architects Co-Founder Helle Søholt said densification was the key — not necessarily height but compactness — and cited Barcelona as one of Europe’s densest and yet most popular cities. “It doesn’t mean the public spaces are cramped and dark: the spaces between the buildings are very nice and have a human scale,” she said and further commented, “Spain might not be a great economic model at the moment but Barcelona’s compactness and liveliness are absolutely admirable.” Read more: Densification is the key « making cities for people …

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Patkau Architects Chosen to Design New Presentation House and Audain Galleries

Patkau design for Daegu Gosan Public Library International Architectural Competition.

Vancouver-based Patkau Architects has been chosen to design Presentation House Gallery's new home at the foot of Lonsdale Ave.

One of Canada’s most notable architectural firms, Patkau's buildings include the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver and the new School of Art at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, currently under construction. In 2010, Patkau won the prestigious international competition to design on-site cottages at Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterwork in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Most recently, they have been chosen to design the new Audain Art Museum in Whistler. Read more: Patkau Architects chosen to design new Presentation House Gallery

Patkau Architect's Nanaimo Barnes house here.

Walk Score Ranks Canada’s
Most Walkable Cities

Vancouver, with a Walk Score of 78, topped Canada’s most walkable cities in Walkscore's first ranking of Most Walkable Canadian Cities and Neighbourhoods. Walkability of more than 300 Canadian cities and 1,200 neighbourhoods. (This means Vancouver is the Pacific Northwest’s most walkable large city, outranking our own Seattle by four points). Apartment search and Transit Score are also now available in most major Canadian cities... Read more: Walk Score Ranks Canada’s Most Walkable Cities — Walk Score Blog

2nd UN Global Road Safety Week May 6 - 12

The Second UN Global Road Safety Week to be held 6-12 May 2013 is dedicated to pedestrian safety. Requested by the UN General Assembly, the Week will draw attention to the urgent need to better protect pedestrians worldwide, generate action on the measures needed to do so, and contribute to achieving the goal of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 to save 5 million lives. Join the international community to ensure a fatality free Week and a significant and long-lasting contribution towards making walking safe for all... WHO | Goals for the Week

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From Project for Public Spaces
Finding a Place for Parking

Despite what you may have heard, nobody goes to a place solely because it has parking. In fact, the current obsession with parking is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving livable cities and towns, because it usually runs counter to what should be our paramount concern: creating places where people enjoy spending time. As long as the myth persists that economic prosperity depends on parking, local governments will continue to waste public money and distort the public planning process.

The realization that creating a place where people want to come and spend time is more important than parking unfortunately eludes many municipalities. Worrying about and wasting public money on parking is taking over the public planning process and subsequently parking is taking over our communities. So how can we put parking in its place and draw people back to public spaces? Read more: Project for Public Spaces | Finding a Place for Parking

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

From Kaid Benfield's Blog
The Disturbing and Sometimes Tragic Challenge of Walking

In much of America, walking – that most basic and human method of movement, and the one most important to our health – is all but impossible. Maybe not literally impossible, but inconvenient at best, and tragically dangerous way too often. 
Read more: The disturbing and sometimes tragic challenge of walking in America | Kaid Benfield's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC

Friday, January 18, 2013

From mov — Vancouver I Love You But...

Whether it’s architecture, style, racism, the weather, street manners or the state of arts and culture, noted Vancouverites and regular citizens will open up and share their grievances about the most livable city in the world. The truth may hurt. Or it may make us laugh until we hurt. Either way, our travelling relationship counselor--Scottish performance artist Adrian Howells—will help us process our anger and move to a healthier relationship with the city. More: Vancouver I Love You But... | Museum of Vancouver

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From — Queens’ Corona Plaza A Community Place Rises

Streetfilms produces short films showing how smart transportation design and policy can result in better places to live, work and play. Founded in 2006, Streetfilms has become the go-to organization for educational films about sustainable transportation, and inspires action and behavioral change worldwide. Individuals, public agencies, non-profit organizations, schools, and transportation advocacy groups use Streetfilms to educate decision makers and make change for livable streets in their communities. Streetfilms are freely distributed online, and our nearly 500 videos have been viewed over 5 million times. Thousands of daily viewers watch Streetfilms on our site, through embeds on hundreds of other sites, social media, digital files and DVDs, film festivals, and community screenings. As people share the videos that inspire them, Streetfilms brings more and more people to the movement for livable streets.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

City of Nanaimo and School District
Land Swap Agreement Creates Large, Strategic Development Site in
Quennell Square Precinct

Another large and strategic development site has emerged in inner city Nanaimo. It's within the Quennell Square precinct, another site that has been developed piecemeal without a Master Plan. Over the almost 10 years I've lived in the area I and others, including the Downtown BIA, have lobbied for a comprehensive plan for this remarkable site. Senior City Management have said that further work on the site would be "premature" and require added staff. See item 3: City Manager's Report.

The precinct includes the 1951 City Hall, a Provincial Court Annex and Access Centre, the Franklyn Street Gym and a private trade school operating in a surplus School Board building. And most recently two large projects have been rushed to completion: 36 units of low-barrier assisted living housing and the City Hall annex building (more info on this to come). 

Here's the Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines document on the precinct.

Through recent land swap agreements with the School District ownership of the yellow parcels in the illustration is ceded to the School District. The mauve parcels are BCTFA owned. Background info from City of Nanaimo documents: City and School District Collaboration Agreement, Property Exchange Agreement. And previous SidewalkBallet post on Quennell Square.

From my Email to Mayor and Council May 12, 2011: The lesson has also been learned in other cities that you have stop making the planning mistakes that lead to the problems in the first place. Which brings me to your decision to proceed with the City Hall Annex without public discussion or neighbourhood consultation, and most importantly in my view, without a comprehensive plan for the Quennell Square precinct. Both of these projects bringing millions of dollars of development and opportunity to this site, but are placed helter-skelter and amount to another opportunity lost to integrate public capital projects into their surroundings to the benefit of all involved. This particular site offers opportunities that would be the envy of every small city in the country. There are strong ownership positions here by both the City and the Province. The School District has maintained a presence here and a private trade school is currently using the facility. The precinct includes the Law Courts Annex and the City-owned Franklyn Street gym. Imagine the redevelopment of Quennell Square as the subject of a country-wide Design Competition, as other cities have done. Imagine incorporating into this precinct a strong element of education and training, designing and incorporating the supporting infrastructure and encouraging the location of private and public education facilities into this block. Critcal mass where we now have this growing economic sector, for one example, spread thinly throughout the city. Where we had dislocation we start to see integration and cross-fertilization. The site would probably include some public space perhaps the entire site designed around a central zocolo creating a very desirable, diverse, residential neighbourhood as well.

From Zona 30
What an Auto-centric City Feels Like

European Citizen´s Initiative "30kmh – making streets liveable!"

30 km/h (20 mph) limits are an inexpensive and popular way to improve safety, cut pollution and encourage smarter travel choices. They lead to improved traffic flow and less congestion. People can move without fear.
We want to achieve these benefits for the whole of the European Union. What is our vision? 30 km/h shall become the standard speed limits for villages, towns and cities with local authorities being able to decide on exemptions.

Read more: 30kmh EN | European Citizen´s Initiative "30kmh - making streets liveable!" Zona30 on facebook:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sam Sullivan
My Perspective on the Olympic Village

" environmentally responsible development, with buildings constructed using green building practices, rainwater capture and usage systems, and being Vancouver’s first and only platinum level LEEDS design...diversity reflective of our city with social housing, co-ops, rental and owner residences...citizen pioneers who are willing and adventuresome and want to watch a neighbourhood blossom around them. The Olympic and Paralympic Games were the opportunity of a generation and was the lever used to create this wonderful neighbourhood."

Read more at My Perspective on the Olympic Village | Sam Sullivan

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The ABC of Architects

The ABC of Architects from fedelpeye on Vimeo.

This work is an alphabetical list of the most important architects with their best known building. A lot of them have been left out with grief because only 
one needed for each letter with an effort to have differents nationalities. If you love architecture, for more you can follow:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

City of Nanaimo to Purchase 26.7 Acre Downtown Waterfront Rail Yards

Pending an environmental review, the City of Nanaimo have announced an agreement with Canadian Pacific to purchase its rail yards. The area was excluded from the 2008 Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines and piecemeal redevelopment of Port Place immediately to the north has proceeded without a master plan for this area.

Redevelopment of these brownfields holds great potential of course but considering a track record here of opportunities lost over the last 10 years I fear the worst. Council will be asked to approve a budget for a "master plan [which] will include not just the land we’re buying but all of the CP lands and the waterfront lands,” says the City's GM Development Ted Swabey. The area should be the subject of a Design Competition geared to attracting top Planning and Architectural talent and badly needed fresh ideas.

There is an agreement in place with the Regional District to collaborate with them on a transit hub. The Snuneymuxw First Nation's reserve lands are to the immediate south and they hold both treaty rights and land purchase options which will directly effect the redevelopment of the site. The Island Corridor Foundation who own the rail line and stations on south and central Vancouver Island are among others who hold land rights and rights of way. 

Scariest prospect of all a popular idea for a 5,000 seat multiplex. There simply does not seem to be either the Planning talent or the political will here to, if this goes ahead, create anything other than a piece of brutal architecture floating in acres of surface parking doing  damage to existing downtown neighbourhoods. Much lip service has been offered here about making "place not space" with appropriated urbanspeak aside, nothing meaningful to show for it.

Here's City Councillor Fred Pattje re the Port Place plans proceeding without a master plan for the southern waterfront:

“This is not proper urban planning in my view,” he said. “The Nanaimo Port Authority wants to do something significant with the assembly wharf and the Snuneymuxw have an interest in the Wilcox property. This whole area is Nanaimo’s last urban frontier and there’s no connection in the planning for any of it, so eventually we’ll end up with something really unpleasant."

City of Nanaimo news release

Nanaimo News Bulletin report Dec 14, 2012 City purchases waterfront rail yard downtown

Staff Report to Council Dec 17 2012

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

From The Atlantic Cities
The Case for Walkability as an
Economic Development Tool

A terrific street redesign is assisting economic development in a southern California community that has suffered from changing economic conditions but is nevertheless seeing significant population growth. This is a story of municipal foresight, excellent recent planning, and green ambition.

And a model for the redevelopment of Nanaimo's Terminal Avenue ravine:

More at: The Case for Walkability as an Economic Development Tool - Design - The Atlantic Cities

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mexico City Seeks Beauty
In Public-Space Makeover

AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini

The plan is as big as this mammoth city: Turn a seedy metro hub into Mexico City's Times Square; clear swarms of feisty vendors and remodel the historic Alameda Central; illuminate the plazas and walkways of a park twice the size of New York's Central Park. 

Read more: Mexico City seeks beauty in public-space makeover

From Price Tags
Shared Spaces in New Zealand

Shared space is “a design feature that aims to encourage pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to share the same deregulated space.” The concept can be traced back to the work of Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman.

From Planetizen Courses —
SketchUp for Planners: Introduction

Get started using SketchUp, the popular, easy-to-learn 3D digital modeling program. This course provides an introduction to how planners and architects represent three-dimensional objects in two-dimensions, with step-by-step instructions for creating and using simple 3D models.

Register at SketchUp for Planners - Introduction | Planetizen Courses

Tuesday, January 1, 2013