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Showing posts from October, 2010

Architecture: McMillan Bloedel Office Tower, 1969

One of my favourite buildings in Vancouver.
MacMillan Bloedel Office Tower, 1969 @ Vancouverism
Revitalizing downtown Vancouver, two offset narrow slabs of offices are linked by a stair/elevator core, with a sunken plaza along Georgia Street. One of the world's best applications of post-Le Corbusier Brutalism to a downtown office tower, it is notable for its trabeated cast concrete frame, and the "entasis' or slimming as its office floors rise.

Event: Carl Elefante – Lecture and Heritage Symposium

Ah! I wish I could go to this so bad! ______________________________________________________________________
Carl Elefante coined the phrase: “The greenest building is the one that is already built.”   He is Director of Sustainable Design at Qunin Evans Architects, Washington, D.C. At an upcoming lecture at SFU, he’ll be addressing the question: ”What is the cultural, economic, environmental sustainability of older buildings” FREE public lecture: Renewal + Transformation – Heritage conservation practice integrated with the quest for a sustainable way of life. 7 pm – Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010 - SFU Harbour Centre More here.Register here.


Daniel Nairn @ Sustainable Cities Collective talks about developing a YIMBY mindset.The CityFix: Is Bike Sharing the Newest Mode of Public Transport? Many cities are trying this out and having great success (except you Melbourne, you silly bunch). Have you heard about Vancouver's Green Streets? Neither had I until I read this article and it's pretty impressive. If you've got a green thumb, why not join? CityCaucus's asks, "why are bike lanes so controversial?" 

Write-Up: Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around

On Sunday, October 24, hundreds of cyclists and interested Vancouverites braved the oppressive, wet and windy weather to fill the Playhouse to listen a panel of speakers talk about Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around. Part of Capilano University's Pacific Arbor Speaker Series, the Panel composed of Vancouver Mayor Gegor Robertson; musician and artist of Talking Heads fame, David Byrne; Co-Publisher and Creative Director of Momentum Magazine, Amy Walker; and founder of re:place Magazine,Erick Villagomez. Retired CBC Broadcaster and Cycling advocate, Paul Grant, emceed and mediated the night's proceedings.

How Toronto Voted For Mayor

Narrow Streets: Los Angeles, A Fantasy Urban Makeover in Photographs

During David Bryne's presentation last Sunday at the Cities, Bicycles and the Future of Getting Around forum and he showed us some images from an 'art' project - Narrow Streets: Los Angeles . They were images of wide, multi-lane streets in L.A. where Artist David Yoon then, using the magic of Photoshop, made them narrower (more here id you want to learn how). The results are remarkable (the last one is my favourite):

Fare Card Naming Contest: My Entry

Okay, so Translink is looking for a name for it's new Fare Card and I've come up with one that I think is amazing:

TAOcard - Transportation All in One card. 

 If you wiki TAO you get this:
a concept found in TaoismConfucianism, and more generally in ancient Chinese philosophy and East Asian religions. While the word itself translates as 'way', 'path', or 'route', or sometimes more loosely as 'doctrine' or 'principle', it is often used philosophically to signify the fundamental or true nature of the world. What do you think? Translink Tao Card/  It even fits into Vancouver's ethos of the 'Gateway to the Pacific'.

It was that or Otter or Condo, or something.

The Death and Life of Gastown: Part Two - A Faster Fall: 1886 to 1914

The history of Gastown began in 1867, when John Deighton erected his Globe Saloon on what is now the corner of Water and Carrall streets. The local inhabitants conferred Deighton with the endearment of “Gassy Jack” because “he had the gift of grouping words, which he flung from him with the volubility of a fake doctor.”[1] The handful of buildings that grew up alongside Deighton’s saloon unofficially became known Gastown until 1870 when the colonial government concluded a survey of the Gastown area and renamed it after the Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Granville.

In early April of 1886, the Granville Townsite was incorporated as the City of Vancouver. Two months later, a fire reduced a significant portion of the city to ashes. Alderman W. H. Gallagher exclaimed that, “the city did not burn; it was consumed by flame.”[2] Yet, as if undeterred from a minor setback, Vancouver arose from the detritus of destruction and rebuilding began apace. It was in the immediate years after the fir…


Surrey wants to shrink its carbon footprint by 20% in the next 10 years. Apparently, they spend $10.5 million dollars on energy consumption a year. Portland's long range growth plan faces a hearing this week and it seems there are some interesting and contentious debates going on. Metro Vancouver is undergoing its own growth plan creation right now and the draft can be found here.  Sustainable Cities Collective has an article on the High Cost of the Electric Cars. I'm a bit of a pessimist when it comes to us relying on new technology to save us from ourselves. This article sums up nicely my thoughts: "Building a sustainable city will require compromise and a change in behavior. Once we accept that fact, the options of how to reduce carbon emissions multiply."Another article on Donald Shoup...are YOU a Shoupista? Treehugger has an article on a Canadian report that found that young people want apartments, not homes or fancy gadgets. Sustainable Cities Collective: The C…

Press Release: Vancouver is Velo-City 2012

City of Vancouver
News Release
Oct. 19, 2010

Vancouver selected for major international cycling conference

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson today thanked European Cycling Federation President Manfred Neun for selecting Vancouver as the host of the prestigious Velo-city Global 2012 conference, the first time the event has been held outside of Europe since 1996.

“Velo-city will bring together hundreds of planners, transportation experts and cycling specialists from around the world to discuss the fast-growing role of cycling in urban transportation,” said Mayor Robertson. “We are very excited that the European Cycling Federation has selected Vancouver for its global conference in 2012.

“Hosting a major international conference like Velo-city is a good boost for our local economy, and it’s a great opportunity to showcase Vancouver’s bike infrastructure to the world's leading transportation experts.”

An estimated 1,000 conference delegates and their guests will attend the conference, whi…

Illustrated Vancouver: Waterfront Station

  Through my morning parusings, the Buzzer had a link to this image posted on Illustrated Vancouver. I'm a sucker for diagrams, maps, and especially cut-aways (I loved those books as a kid - nerd alert!). Also, Illustrated Vancouver is a great blog to get lost in; check it out!

*Notice the Angel of Victory in the right corner.

The Death and Life of Gastown: Part One

Here's a 'failed-paper' (i.e. I never really finished it, oops!) on the re-birth of Gastown. I'm going to post it in parts as a series. ****************************** Today, Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood, located in East Vancouver (Map No.1), is one of its most popular and lucrative tourist attractions. Local residents also converge there to shop, drink and eat at many of the ‘trendy’ boutiques and restaurants. The Gastown Business Improvement Society (GBIS) promotes the area as:
a refreshing mix of old and new, downhome and upscale, a place for tourists, Vancouver residents and office workers alike. Various shops have the streets buzzing during the day. A host of restaurants and nightspots keeps the area humming into the wee hours.[1]             However, this image of Gastown is a recent phenomenon: in the early 1960s this neighbourhood was condemned as nothing more than “a collection of slum hotels and forsaken warehouses . . . home to none except the broken men an…

Montreal: 1897 Bike Map

  Picked up by SPACING.


The Seattle Times: [Redevelopment] would mean more traffic on the Waterfront. This article suggests that the removal of the viaducts for a tunnel would actually create more problems and congestion and negate the process. CONTEST: Translink wants you to name their new electronic fare card. Maybe something like 'Money-Card' or 'Transit-Pass' ... I'm not very good at this. SustainableCitiesCollective has a great post on the 'reluctant suburbanites' who are philosophically for walkable, lively neighbourhoods but end up buying a house in a 'traditional' 1960s-style suburb. Also, another post on a contest about retrofitting suburbia - 'Build a Better 'Burb'. Critical Mass: Grist has an article on the link between safety and the number of people bicycling.

Restoration: Vancouver's Other War Memorial

View Larger Map

If you walk by Waterfront Station, you will notice them: One, an angel, poised in flight and grasping her partner. The other, a soldier, limp and lifeless. Together they are tragic yet proud, 'collolsal yet weightless'.

They are a war memorial that stands outside the former Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station now a transit hub for Skytrain, Seabus and the Westcoast Express.

After the First World War, the CPR commissioned a memorial to commemorate the 1,115 CPR workers who were killed (60,000 Canadians in total were killed in the war). Designed by Montreal sculptor Coeur de Lion McCarthy , the 'The Angel of Victory' was erected in 1922. The plaque reads:
To commemorate those in the service of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company whom at the call of King and Country left all that was dear to them, endured hardship, faced danger and finally passed out of sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others may l…

Update: Trains in the Sky or Wheels on the Ground?

The other day I wrote a post on Premier Campbell's announcement that he wants to build a Skytrain from Surrey to Langley. Here is what the local news is reporting:
...on Friday but Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts says the option of using at-grade light rail technology should not be ruled out. "I'd be surprised if he's excluding any technology," Watts said, adding she took the reference as intended to mean a rapid transit line will run to Langley, with the exact system and route to be determined by TransLink, Surrey and Langley. Officials in the Premier's Office, however, confirmed Campbell did intend to specify SkyTrain when he addressed the Union of B.C. Municipalities."The community prefers light rail for a number of reasons," Watts said. "You can have double the tracks for the same price as SkyTrain.""I was surprised to hear SkyTrain was going to come to Langley City," said Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender and the chair of the Tra…

Letter to Council in Support of Hornby Separated Bike Lanes

Here is the letter that I helped draft for the Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN). It was sent to council yesterday. Here is VPSN's blog post about it.

October 4, 2010

Mayor Gregor Robertson,
Members of Council,
City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Re: Proposed Hornby Street Separated Bike Lanes

Dear Mayor Robertson and Council,

The Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN) is a non-profit organization that works on matters of advocacy, education and outreach pertaining to the City’s public spaces. A key focus of our activities includes looking at the role of transportation in fostering a livable urban environment.

We are writing to express our support for the Hornby Street two-way separated bike lane that is currently undergoing public consultation. We believe that Hornby Street is a crucial link in creating a substantive and comprehensive bicycle lane network that will increase ridership and safety and will provide benefits for residents and businesses ali…

Trains in the Sky: Langley could be next?

Last week Premier Gordon Campbell gave a speech to the Union of British Columbian Municipalities (CBC, South Fraser OnTrax, whole speech). For the most part he reminisced about the good ol' days (re: Olympic Fever!) and defended himself over the HST. However, he also threw in some interesting stuff:
It's time to get started doing the SkyTrain to Langley City which has planned itself to actually provide the opportunities for the future that are required to make sure that transit works. It's time to get ready to build a rapid bus from Langley to Chilliwack. It's time to build rapid transit to UBC. It's time we got started. We decided finally on the technology. We made the decisions within the next year so we can get on with building the kind of communities and cities that we need that will serve the needs of our citizens.A few things first: Note how he said 'Skytrain' to Langley but 'rapid transit' to UBC. Some suspect that this word choice is due to …

Events: EcoDensity - Deft or Dense?

As an Alumni, I get these nifty e-mails sometime:

UBC Dialogues: Vancouver
EcoDensity: Deft or Dense?

The City of Vancouver has set itself a goal to be the greenest city in the world, with urban densification as a central element of the process. Is it really possible for Vancouver to become eco-dense – green, liveable and affordable? What are the costs of such a plan in a city that is already the most expensive in the country, and what will be the impact on municipal infrastructure when neighbourhoods are densified? And who is the real beneficiary – citizens, City Hall or real estate developers? Join leading UBC and community experts for UBC Dialogues: Vancouver, and find out if urban densification can and will pay off.

Moderator - Kathryn Gretsinger, MJ'06, CBC Journalist; Adjunct Professor, UBC School of Journalism
Panelist - Adele Weder, MASA'05, Architectural Writer and Critic; Co-producer, 2009 Form Shift Eco-density Design Competition
Panelist - Maged Senbel, MS…