Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Jane Jacobs' "big R&D lab" in downtown Toronto industrial sites redevelopment

20 years ago Jane Jacobs was given the chance to put her ideas into practice in the renewal of two large downtown Toronto in-decline industrial sites. The King Street neighbourhoods were a priority of then-mayor Barbara Hall and she asked Jacobs’ advice. Details of this fascinating story are told in the links below by Spacing Magazine’s Shawn Micallef in Curbed.com and in a Globe and Mail piece by Stephen Wickens.

401 Richmond in the western neighbourhood of the "Two Kings", which the Zeidler family purchased in 1994, is an illustration of Jacobs’s arguments about urbanism and a piece of her legacy in Toronto. Eberhard Zeidler, the patriarch, was the architect who designed the Eaton Centre. When the Zeidlers purchased 401, the old steampunk neighborhood around it, once the heart of Toronto’s schmatte trade, was dead. "There was one restaurant in the area, just a greasy spoon. Now there has to be like 20 or 30 in that section there," says Margie Zeidler, Eberhard’s daughter and the driving force behind what would become the vital building beloved by so much of Toronto today. Today that 1994 landscape is unimaginable and the building is at the heart of one of the most intense areas of development in North America, with condo towers sprouting where there were once acres of parking lots and buildings left fallow after deindustrialization. Read more: Jane Up North - Curbed

She wasn’t at all surprised to see people saying 
what would Jane Jacobs have thought; 
but what Jane Jacobs would have thought 
was think for yourself.Jim Jacobs

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