Mount Pleasant Elementary Facing School Board Cuts


Concerned parents at Mount Pleasant Elementary School, in Vancouver, addressed the Vancouver School Board on 27 february to voice concern with proposed cuts. Read the parents report here MTP Parent Group Report.

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West Coast Modern


O’Hara House, Richard Neutra (Los Angeles, 1959)

What are the advantages to living here, in the west coast of the New Continent? This film provides interesting point of view taken from a daring stance: Anticipating the Decline and Fall of the Great Modernist Architecture, it profiles the west coast, 20th century—mostly—residential buildings to suggest that the flame is still glowing. But is it really? If the last foothold of the Modernism’s avant-garde is to be the few and privileged places of its origin—the corporate commissions for isolated and reclusive private homes—then what can we say about the health and well-being of that other project—the construction of the socially balanced city and neighbourhood? Enjoy. Some of these houses represent the best architecture of the last 100 years.

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A Great Work at 53


Among the first 10 books I read at the start of my career in architecture this one still stands as the odd ball. Fifty three years after its publication I return to its pages to highlight and debate its most important points. I have found recently that although Death and Life is much talked about, its principal thesis and ground-breaking assertions are not read much less understood. The book opens with crushing salvo and an enormous boast:

This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding. It is also, and mostly, an attempt to introduce new principles in city planning and rebuilding, different and even opposite from those now taught in everything from schools of architecture and planning to Sunday supplements and women’s magazines. My attack is not based on quibbles about rebuilding methods or hair-splitting about fashions in design. It is an attack, rather, on the principles and aims that have shaped modern, orthodox city planning and rebuilding.

Jane Jacobs, p. 3.

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Human Scale


“Human Scale is Body Scale” said someone, sometime over the holidays, in a radio interview. That’s as good a starting place as any to wade into this fundamental topic touching every aspect of our daily lives. Continue reading

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What if cars are not the problem?


What if the cars are not the problem? What if vehicular congestion, pollution, and environmental degradation are the symptoms of bad urbanism, but not the cause? What if the greatest challenge facing urban sustainability are the towers and the freeways—the permanent structures and public investments—rather than the cars? Consider that the fleet changes over every 4 to 10 years making it possible to retrofit new technologies at a fast rate. Towers and highways, on the other hand, may last for centuries inscribing patterns on the landscape and the cultural sphere that prove difficult to break Continue reading

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What is a Charrette?


LCA Charrette, Park City, Utah 2003


Two men and a woman walk into a bar carrying a pizza in a cardboard box. They sit down, take the pizza out, turn the box over and start drawing on it. After a couple of hours of discussions and drawing they have finished a ‘charrette’.

Charrettes are just about that simple.  Continue reading

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Private and Public Space

5.End Result

Growth Is the Engine of Change — LNV (2000)


The tradition of western urbanism may be summed by two concepts: the classical and the vernacular. The former term has been so misused that it may render the proposition either nonsensical, or incomprehensible to most of us. Yet, embracing this basic distinction between two different modes of building is fundamental for managing the growth of our cities. Detroit City filing for bankruptcy in the summer of 2013 presents the alternative. Faced with pending crisis, and famously phrased by Canadian critic Northrope Frye, we must learn to “distinguish where we cannot divide.” (open cit.) Continue reading

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