Category Archives: Involvement

It’s not just the economy, stupid

In my previous post I attempted to make the case that part of what hinders architecture’s ability to affect change, or more precisely to control where it affects change is a function of its poor position in the marketplace. We have little say in where and how money is spent. A friend’s response to me […]

Character Assassination

While character isn’t directly defined, its meaning becomes fairly clear through contextual interpretation of zoning district schedules and design guidelines. Several terms recur in relation to character: preserve, maintain, retention, and compatibility. Rather than chasing these terms down a linguistic rabbit hole, they can be used to derive meaning, and meaningful meaning at that. They […]

Tangential Babel

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them […]

It’s the economy, stupid

Much of the service necessarily provided by an architect is a function of the building industry marketplace; performance of the builder; and interpretations by the authorities having jurisdiction. These are not under the architect’s control.    –The AIBC Tariff of Fees for Architectural Services Sit in on any architecture studio review and listen to both […]

Location to innovation

At one time the recipe for successful innovation was face-to-face communication between innovators, rolling into the mix investors and the necessary capital to create a marketable product. In 1976, one place for innovation was Steve Job’s garage. It was right in front of this garage where Steve Wozniak met Steve Jobs, as the story goes. […]

Blending the Urban and Rural

An initial diagram of reciprocal edge condition strategies for the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR)  that could blend the urban and rural.

Character Study – 11th and Prince Edward

Practicing architecture, character seemed to come up frequently, both in analyzing the relevant zoning bylaw for any particular project, and in conversations with development planners. Increasingly, this term seemed influential in the planning approval process, and I had a hunch that it was officially undefined. The hunch was soon gratifyingly realized through a quick search […]

Rain Urbanism

Of the 36 cities in North America with populations over two million, Vancouver has the most days with measurable precipitation. It rains more of the time here, than anywhere else. While this moisture supports the magnificent fecundity of the city’s biota, it also suppresses the proliferation of an activated street-life.

Peripheral Vancouver

Just ask Stan Douglas: the built environment has figured prominently in the narrative of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside; it is impossible to imagine the circumstances of the residents of Hastings Street without also thinking of the abandoned buildings and storefronts they occupy.


The Vancouver Zoning By-law is prefaced by a definitions section that helpfully illuminates such terms as ‘family’ and ‘adult magazine.’ However, one word is conspicuously absent: character.