Tag Archives: Downtown

Vancouver – how to bankroll ‘civic responsibility’ in the built environment

### thetyee.ca 25 June 2010
Vancouver’s Architectural Revival
Behind the shiny surfaces there is a public logic guided by City Hall policies.
By Adele Weder, TheTyee.ca

[Editor’s note: This is excerpted from A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver, just published by Douglas and McIntyre. A second excerpt on Vancouver as ‘supermodel,’ by Matthew Soules, runs next week.]

On Aug. 7, 1971, officers on horseback charged into a crowd in Gastown, the original downtown core of Vancouver, and swung their batons at the thousand people who had gathered or wandered there to protest marijuana laws and the nefarious police tactics used to enforce them. At the intersection of Abbott and Cordova, marchers and onlookers were beaten or hauled into paddywagons and the public gathering soon transformed into what became known as the Gastown Riot, one of the most notorious brawls in the city’s history. In the years that followed, the neighbourhood withered, its zoning geared towards the tawdry tourist outlets that would long dominate it, its days as a gathering site all but over.

Making architecture is, at its core, a political action. Implicit in the design approach is the decision to encourage or thwart public gatherings, nurture or displace the poor, ignite or asphyxiate street life, rabble-rouse or calm the streets for paying visitors. At first glance, the shiny newness of central Vancouver suggests a manifesto of clarity and order, a divergence from the fiery social consciousness of decades past. (To sample that sensation, comb through the photo essay of buildings accompanying this essay.)

Underlying these images of finesse and resolve, however, are backstories of complex negotiations between public and private interests whose endgame is the greater public good. With increased density allowance as the currency, the resulting deals have spawned an unprecedented array of community centres, daycares, parks, public art and social housing.

Gastown’s current robust and widely inclusive revival owes much to City Hall — the very institution that had sanctioned the police bullying and subsequent neighbourhood stagnation in the first place.
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Adele Weder is a Vancouver-based architectural writer and curator, and co-author of the Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Vancouver.

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

/via RT @BusbyPW Vancouver”s Architectural Revival @TheTyee http://thetyee.ca/Books/2010/06/25/VancouversArchitecturalRevival/

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San Francisco plans new public transit hub

Ambitious in USA, of all recession-prone places. But really, you got to tell us if building towers is sustainable development, increases density, but…

### http://www.nytimes.com January 2, 2010
Ambitious Downtown Transit Project Is at Hand
By Brad Stone
In 2010, San Francisco will finally bring out the wrecking balls and cement mixers and embark on a grand overhaul of its downtown. The project could eventually result in a half-dozen new skyscrapers, including a 1,200-foot tower whose gracefully tapered top would add a defining element to the iconography of the upwardly mobile skyline.
Planners say the Transbay Transit Center, which is scheduled to be completed in 2015, will serve 45 million passengers a year. The existing transportation terminal will be demolished and replaced with the sparkling new transit centre.
Much of this grand transformation, which would leave the 853-foot Transamerica pyramid as the second-tallest structure in the city, is still in the conceptual stages. The ambitious plan for a new urban neighbourhood could be scaled back. But the centrepiece of the project — a $4.2 billion public transit hub — has enough financing to begin construction, and the first dirt could be turned as early as March.
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Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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“Tradition in architecture conveys the kind of practical knowledge that is required by neighbourliness.”

Thanks to ro1 for the following article, published by The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute:

### http://www.american.com Sat, 19 Dec 2009
The High Cost of Ignoring Beauty
By Roger Scruton
Architecture clearly illustrates the social, environmental, economic, and aesthetic costs of ignoring beauty. We are being torn out of ourselves by the loud gestures of people who want to seize our attention but give nothing in return.
In Britain, the state, in the form either of local or central government, will tell you whether you can or cannot build on land that you own. And if it permits you to build, it will stipulate not only the purposes for which you may use the building, but also how it should look, and what materials should be used to construct it. Americans are used to building regulations that enforce utilitarian standards: insulation, smoke alarms, electrical safety, the size and situation of bathrooms, and so on. But they are not used to being told what aesthetic principles to follow, or what the neighbourhood requires of materials and architectural details. I suspect that many Americans would regard such stipulations as a radical violation of property rights, and further evidence of the state’s illegitimate expansion.
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Roger Scruton is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a writer, philosopher, and public commentator, and has written widely on aesthetics, as well as political and cultural issues.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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