“TownShift: Suburb into City” was an open international ideas competition to gather innovative ideas for five of Surrey’s established Town Centres.  Its aim was to “Shift” thinking and opportunities for each of these hubs towards more intense, public-minded and productive urban futures. The categories include:

  • Round-Up – Building Affordability
  • Fleetwood: Marker – Shaping Gateway Identity
  • Guildford: Cornered – Place-Making at Mall’s Edge
  • Newton: New Town – Connecting Density to Transit
  • Semiahmoo: Up – Forming Plaza through Residential Towers

The results are posted here.

In “Banking on the Games afterglow”, Frances Bula discusses the next steps for Millennium’s Olympic Village development with Bob Rennie and Cameron McNeill.

This article in BCBusiness references a few of the new products including building products, fuel and furniture utilizing the millions of board feet of lodgepole pine laid to waste across the province.

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Vancouver city council moved to adopt LEED Gold as the new standard for rezonings as of July 2010 with LEED Gold certification in early 2011.  Director of Planning Brent Toderian’s blog post is here and the staff report is here.

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For more information, the article is here.  The initial release is limited to Milan and is expected to cost USD$3,500 to $5,000.

This is an image of Rize Alliance’s proposed redevelopment of the Cecil Hotel site on Granville at Drake. According to Malcolm Perry of the Vancouver Sun, HOK, Busby Perkins+Wills and IBI|HB have all had a hand in the design.  Additional information and images can be viewed here.
For years, I’ve been somewhat puzzled  as to why there is decidedly more “progressive” residential architecture in Toronto than Vancouver.  On the multi side of the equation, developers like Peter Freed of Freed Developments have built profitable brands based on delivering interesting, adventurous, design-forward mid- and high-rise communities.  Vancouver has a few exceptions – James Schouw’s one-ofs Grace, Iliad and now Artemisia; Robert Fung at The Salient Group’s Garage in Gastown; a number of Intracorp Developments’ projects including Folio and Jacobsen; architects Lang Wilson in conjunction with Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden’s Roar_One; Wall Financial’s One Wall Centre; and Cressey Development’s Milano, which I had a hand in. However, for the most part Vancouver’s skyline has been dominated by pretty straightforward point towers clad in glass and either painted concrete, stucco or Alucobond panels.  Most are virtually indistinguishable from one another, to the point of being bland and banal.
I realize that part of this is driven by simple economics: different is taken to meet less easy to build and therefore potentially more costly to construct, plus there’s the perceived added risk that you may alienate part of your market that’s looking for things that are safe and conservative.  Undeniably there is a measure of truth in this, but it is tremendously encouraging to see projects like The Rolston, 5590 Balaclava, Jacobsen, PCI Group’s Crossroads, Bastion Development’s Pulse and Coast,  and even Westbank’s Living Shangri-La pushing the envelope.  The public benefits will include a more interesting skyline and a measure of choice not seen here before.
Bring them on!
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5590 Balaclava



Shades of Arthur Erickson’s Evergreen Building perhaps, but this approved project by Emaar Canada at 41st and Balaclava in Kerrisdale hasn’t garnered much press to date. Curious, considering the design was created by Adrian Gill + Gordon Smith Architecture, the architects for the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building.  Additional detailed information is available on the architect’s site here.  Hope it gets built!

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The basic, economical, rectilinear form takes on a decidedly different appearance with the addition of the undulating balconies of varying shape and size. More than just adornment, the shape and placement of the balconies provide sufficient disruption in wind force to eliminate the need for a tuned mass damper in the building and will make the balconies usable even on the uppermost floors.

The developer is Magellan Development Group of Chicago. The building is 82 stories and will house commercial tenants, residential rental units and residential condominiums. Additional information can be found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(skyscraper) or www.lifeataqua.com/.

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One of the benefits of bringing the world to our doorstep is that we get to see our city through a panoply of different eyes.  Gary Stephen Ross of The Walrus provides his take in the upcoming March 2010 issue entitled A Tale of Two Cities.  Perhaps this says it all: “…younger than she seems, less sophisticated than she might like, undeniably radiant, proud to be attracting attention but not quite sure how to deal with it, a little self-conscious as the first complications of maturity settle upon her. You can’t help but marvel at her good fortune, her beauty. You admire the earnestness of her endeavours. You envy the wealth of her possibilities.

You wonder what she’ll become.”

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Matthew Power of Slate reports on the Downtown Eastside and Insite, the supervised injection site, in this article.

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