Tangential Babel

East west section of Vancouver studying the threshold between downtown and East Vancouver. The diagram indicates the insertion of a fantastical infrastructure that argues for an improved alternate to the current Georgia Viaduct.

Cousin to the Woodward's Building, and just down the street, 18 West Hastings by Bruce Carscadden Architect is also enabled by engaging in an economic game: the City's minimum residential unit size requirements were relaxed considerably and in exchange the developer was permitted to charge rent as the market allows - the hope being that super-small units demanding less rent. Here too, the economic model is essential, superseding anyone's personal aspirations.
With 200 non-market residential units, The Woodward's Building by Henriquez Partners Architects is frequently presented as the flagship of sensitive urban redevelopment. Even with the architect's public lobbying, it is difficult to imagine, however, the project happening without the fire-sale purchase price the City got, the heritage density bonuses, or property tax relaxations. Images copyright the architects.

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 the invited and future professionals. From both sides of registration it’s clear that the expressed sympathies of our discipline frequently align themselves with the disenfranchised. While in school we contemplate social housing and design generous public space. We value the public realm and care about the poor. (more…)

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. The garage is a suburban by-product of neighbourhoods built for the automobile – the entryway to the suburban home and often the most visible part of the ubiquitous single family house. (more…)

The Agricultural Landscape
The Agricultural Land Reserve is created
Urban development on both sides; exceptions granted in ALR allowing non-agricultural uses
Proposal: Reinsert agricultural uses on the non-ALR side
Result: The Tossed Salad Landscape

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. (more…)

Left: City of Vancouver zoning map illustrating use: varieties of residential + commercial Right: Zoning map altered to reflect intensity of ‘character’ regulations
A) RT-5 ...emphasis is placed on the external design of all new buildings and additions being compatible with the historical CHARACTER of the area
B) C-3A ...to maintain commercial activities, specialized services and some light manufacturing enterprises while preserving the CHARACTER and general amenity of the area
C) RS-1 ...maintain the single-family residential CHARACTER of the RS-1 District
D) RS-1 ...emphasis is placed on the external design of all new buildings and additions being compatible with the historical CHARACTER of the area
E) C-2 ...emphasizes building design that furthers compatibility among uses, ensures livability, limits impact on adjacent residential sites, and contributes to pedestrian interest and amenity

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 of the definitions section of the zoning bylaw (gratifying because this meant there were depths to plumb). (more…)