A Tale of Two Billboards

Broadway & the Lee Building in Snow

In 2009 the giant billboard crowning the Lee Building was ordered removed by City Council as part of a city-wide scrubbing of 300 billboards deemed to be in violation of city by-laws. A previous Council acting in a somewhat different vein had designated the Bowmac sign, 1.5 miles west along Broadway, as a heritage structure. Uneven policy between east and west is an ongoing rift in our city.

It may come as a surprise to hear arguments to preserve the iconicity of an odd-shaped and over-scaled advertising mega-structure. However, in the contemporary world we do well to take our icons of place where we find them, or risk erecting fakes in their place. Why not turn the Lee Building sign into an art installation space instead? Continue reading “A Tale of Two Billboards”

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Architecture for the Rest of Us

Miss-hit on Google for “Telus Centre for the Performing Arts”

Miss-hit on Google for “Willow Court”

I came across Trevor Boddy’s 2010 article on James K.M. Cheng for The Canadian Architect here and proceeded to read with interest my friend and former professor’s archiography of a well known figure in our community. Boddy makes the observation that it is James Cheng who deserves credit for the tower-and-podium bricolage which some—including Boddy—have championed as ‘Vancouverism’. Time magazine had already parodied our glass tower condominium craze as ‘Hong-couver’ back in 1989 [1].

Continue reading “Architecture for the Rest of Us”

Score a ‘Win’ for Vancouver Urbanism

Place des Vosges (formerly Place Royale, Paris 1600)

Fee simple row houses (clear title or free-hold) are finally legal in British Columbia. A building form with its origins in the Renaissance Italy of Andrea Palladio—also used in Baroque Paris; in London as early as the ill fated monarchy of Charles I; as well as being the building type of choice for the most memorable urban neighbourhoods in New York, Boston, Montreal and Toronto—can now be built in Canada’s west coast.

Continue reading “Score a ‘Win’ for Vancouver Urbanism”

The Flat Iron Building & The Urban Room

14 months after Vancouver City Council approved the 2010 Mount Pleasant Community Plan, a hearing was held to re-zone a key site in the neighbourhood to 5.5 FSR (floor space ratio). Neighbours who had participated in the planning process were joined by other citizens and professionals to decry the recommendation to move beyond the mandated 3.0 FSR. In order to illustrate the 3.0 FSR opportunity, and working in consultation with members from the Resident’s Association of Mount Pleasant, we developed a scheme in keeping with local traditions. Continue reading “The Flat Iron Building & The Urban Room”

A New Approach to Density in Vancouver

2009 Form Shift Vancouver, Design Competition, entry by the author

We have gone a little ‘Condo Crazy’ in Vancouver for the last 20 years. Podium-and-Tower can work Downtown. However, when it comes to the neighbourhoods, and the historic neighbourhoods, loud vocal opposition from local residents is clamouring for a new approach. Continue reading “A New Approach to Density in Vancouver”

Community Forum: The Density Fallacy

Can we build high density neighbourhoods without building towers? At a Community Forum will be held in Mount Pleasant where the rezoning hearings to 19-storeys for the RIZE Development at Main and Broadway, and at the May meeting of the Grandview Woodlands Advisory Council, are turning up neighbourhood opposition for tower forms outside the downtown, and a growing groundswell of opinion supporting new neighbourhood build out that supports transportation, affordability, livability, and human scale.

Continue reading “Community Forum: The Density Fallacy”