Re-designing from the bottom up: The City of Vancouver unveiled its new sign design for rezoning and development projects last week. The new simplified design is a response to the previous hard-to-read and overly technical signs. Meanwhile in other parts of the city, glitz and glamour are being favoured over simple design, with multi-million dollar homes and surreal hotels marking the horizon. And in Grandview-Woodland we have a radical new plan for redesign and redevelopment. This week we explore Vancouver's stylistic tendencies, ranging from the flashy and ornate, the clean and (not quite so) simple, to the contentious and complicated.
Luxury Living. The Vancouver Observer gives us a tongue-in-cheek take on the fanciest (and most expensive) houses in the city. And yes, those are home cinemas and private bowling alleys that you're seeing. In other multi-million dollar news, Trump Tower is coming to downtown Vancouver. The $360-million Georgia Street development will include a hotel complete with champagne lounge, spa, and banquet and conference centre. It's expected to be finished in summer 2016.
Clean Slate. On the other end of Georgia, removing the viaducts and streamlining the area between Chinatown, Gastown, Strathcona, and the Downtown Eastside, is beginning to seem like a better, and better idea to many, including Mayor Gregor Robertson. As a recent report remarks, "In every city's evolution there are rare opportunities to take bold city-building steps to advance the city's goals and livability or correct a past planning wrong. The potential removal of the viaducts provides an opportunity for the City of Vancouver to do both."
Riding in Style. And for something that is perhaps neither simple or flashy, TransLink is shopping around various options for funding future upgrades to Metro Vancouver's transit system. One idea is road pricing, which could mean anything from bridge tolls to charges for drivers based on time of day or location. Could road pricing be the simplest, most elegant means of funding future transportation infrastructure or is it a complicated solution to an equally complicated problem? Your thoughts?
Decision-Making Style. It looks like Grandview-Woodland will be going through a drastic redesign. As Charles Campbell explains for The Tyee, "The Grandview-Woodland Community Plan calls for a radical remake of the area around the Broadway SkyTrain station: a possible 36-storey building on the Safeway site behind the station, towers up to 22 storeys in "transitional" zones including the area between 11th and 12th avenues near Commercial Drive, and more high-rises up to 26 storeys between Broadway and 7th towards Woodland." But for Campbell (and many others), the question remains: Who decides?
At the MOVeum:
June 26 - Upcycled Urbanism Volunteer Orientation night
July 6 - Curator’s Talk & Tour Foncie's Fotos w/ Joan Seidl
July 13 - Upcycled Urbanism: A Design+Build Project for Everyone - Granville Street Build Day
[Image: Expo 86 Georgia Viaduct and Saskatchewan pavilion, 2001. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.517]
June 5 - MOV Annual General Meeting
This week the Illustrated Vancouver blog posted an artist's vision of the Museum of Vancouver building from 1966. Of course when it actually opened in 1968, the museum looked just a little bit different. Unsurprisingly, Vancouver's landscape of shifting expectations is no less visible today. If we look around the city we can find plenty of predictions that haven't turned out quite as we'd anticipated. Read on for some contemporary adjustments to how we might be living, shopping, and doing business in the future.
This week MOVments gets messy. From dirty history to density wars, we've rounded up some of the complicated stories that make Vancouver so interesting. Read on for the nitty-gritty on Vancouver tourism, plywood protests, high-rise politics, and the logistics of bike sharing.
Vancouver's messy past. For many, Vancouver’s historical walking tours are how they come to know our city. Unsurprisingly, these tours often choose to focus on positive, uncomplicated aspects of Vancouver's past. Chances are if you take a city tour of Vancouver you won't be hearing much about the Komagata Maru or the 1907 Race Riots. In contrast, local tour guide, Jessica O'Neill, encourages tour-takers to tackle these difficult histories and argues that they make for more accurate, and ultimately more compelling tours.
The writing on the (plywood) wall(s). In a bit of synchronicity, plywood boards have recently gone up at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, just as MOV unveils its exhibit of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot boards. Scrawling comments like "Trading dollars for lives" on the plywood boards outside the Kitsilano office, locals have been expressing their outrage at the federal government's money-saving decision to close the search-and-rescue station.
Tower power. Are high-rise developments the solution to Vancouver's sky-rocketing real-estate prices? Harvard professor Edward Glaeser says yes. His main argument: building more high-density residences will ease the gentrification of middle-income neighbourhoods and decrease suburban sprawl. Sounds simple, but as we know, the reality is anything but. For more on this issue, read about former-mayor Sam Sullivan's new found respect for Vancouver's glass towers.
The politics of sharing. As we wait to hear who wins the bid to implement the city’s bike sharing system, Vancouverites are thinking about the dirty business of sharing bike helmets. In a city with a mandatory helmet law, some argue that the idea of sharing sweaty, germy helmets is what will doom the project to failure. Meanwhile over in Montreal, an independent helmet advocate is loaning and disinfecting helmets for free for BIXI users.
At the MOVeum:
June 15 - Is This Vancouver? Reflections on the 2011 Hockey Riot Boards
June 19 - Jane’s Walk Recap and Dialogue
[Image: Plywood boards outside the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Photo by Clive Camm]
Hockey. The Vancouver Archives posted a neat photoset of historical hockey photos and Vancouver’s previous team to win the Stanley Cup: the Millionaires.
Public celebrations. Vancouver suburbs are experiencing challenges finding and creating public spaces for celebrating Stanley Cup games. With an eye to public space, are championship runs good for urbanism?
Online voting. The provincial government has denied the City of Vancouver’s request to allow online voting in this year’s municipal election.
Residential conversions. The real-estate market is so hot it’s pricing a lot of businesses and jobs out of Vancouver as land is converted to residential development. The latest losses - Avalon Dairy and the Hollywood Theatre and more industrial land.
Housing affordability. Here is the data that Bob Rennie was relying upon when last week he claimed that housing is not unaffordable in Vancouver, so you can draw your own conclusions.
Density. How do we go about densifying development around transit hubs? If we use the intersection at Broadway and Commercial as an example, it turns out there are lots of barriers.
Planning. What if we choose not to plan our urban spaces, let nature take it’s course and crowdsource solutions?
On Broadway. Stephen Rees provides a good overview of SFU City Programme’s Designing Broadway dialogue on May 30.
Safe injection. Another point in favour of Insite: a study shows that a similar facility in Montreal has not had any adverse effects on the neighbourhood it’s located in.
This week’s image courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.