Deck Two’s Global City is an ambitious hand-drawn mural that aims to encompass the world—or at least its architecture—into a single cityscape.
Deck Two’s Global City is an ambitious hand-drawn mural that aims to encompass the world—or at least its architecture—into a single cityscape.
One of the most talked about sites in Vancouver’s recent history is the former Olympic Village. From the Olympic celebrations to the eco-sustainability of it’s infrastructure to the cost overruns and lingering public debt, the site has been the subject of more coverage than any other neighbourhood in recent memory. But for all this talk, unless you live or work nearby, or jog or cycle around this corner of the seawall, few Vancouverites actually visit the site regularly. Even fewer have spent as much time over the past several years as photographer Leslie Hossack.
As a resident of ‘The Village of False Creek” as it is now called, I was immediately drawn toward’s Hossack’s photography. As I researched her work and saw her exhibition at the Vancouver Archives in the spring of 2012, I became even more captivated. But it wasn’t until I met her and sat down for a few times that I truly gained an appreciation for her work.
Hossack’s photographs document the recent past of a part of Vancouver with a long history. Before colonization, False Creek was well used by First Nations’ for hunting and fishing. For much of the 20th century, it was a hub of industrial activity. As industry left the city core, a sea of parking lots took over the site. Today, as residents move into the condos and apartments originally built for the Olympics, and businesses open up, the Village on False Creek is emerging as a vibrant community.
In-between the sea of parking lots and the current collection of condos was a unique time when the site evolved from a flock of construction cranes to an avenue of shiny buildings. Hossack, a Ottawa resident who visits Vancouver for three months each year, first noticed the site in 2008 when she was driving southbound over the Cambie Street bridge. She noticed several construction cranes rising from the ground and was immediately captivated. It was a dream site for a photographer interested in architecture — a massive zone of urban development in the heart of a city.
While documenting the site from 2008 to 2011, Hossack focused on two major themes: change and continuity, and representation and reality. These are fitting for a subject imbued with its own tensions. Southeast False Creek is a site that is both old and new that has evolved from industrial use to a residential setting; and from the site of an international celebration to the home of a local community. Such tensions are reflective of Hossack’s own duality as both a visitor and a resident. Her split perspective provides an informed view of our city while allowing impartiality from her subject.
Hossack’s unique approach to photography amplifies this duality. While may photographers would be interested in capturing the dynamism and intense activity of the site, Hossack took another approach. Her photographs convey a sense of stillness that borders on the surreal. According to Hossack:
I have been told that I see the world with an unconventional eye, and there may be a bit of truth to that. Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to eschew conventional status symbols; consequently, I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and structures, and to portray the inclusive as exclusive.
Another aspect that makes her photography unique is a lack of people. This may seem like a strange omission for a series entitled Vancouver’s Village 2008-2011: Constructing a village, Creating a community, but Hossack has a compelling explanation. She wants her photographs to seem timeless and feels that including people—and their clothing styles—ruins this perception. As such, many of her photographs look like architecture renderings. Indeed it is challenging to distinguish her photographs of architectural models and promotional posters from the rest of her work.
When asked about the “community” part of her subtitle—given the lack of people and the super-human scale of her work—Hossack explains that instead of photographing the people who make up a community, she wanted to capture the infrastructure that makes community possible. This includes the Canada Line station that helps moves the community, the Creekside Community Centre where the community comes for recreation, the condo units where the community lives, and the Neighbourhood Energy Utility that provides heating and hot water for the community.
Regardless of your personal views on the Olympics, the Village at False Creek, or the ongoing debt issues, Hossack’s work is a must see for anybody interested in the urban evolution of Vancouver. It is rare to document the construction of a site, let alone turn it into an art show. Leslie Hossack has done both. In doing so, she improved our understanding and appreciation of this important place.
For more information about Leslie Hossack, check out her blog Haute Vitrine.
NOTE: A version of this post originally appeared on Spacing Vancouver in January 2012.
While Moby may be first and foremost best known for his work in the music industry, his latest venture sees him dipping into a whole different territory:
Checkout his architecture blog here: www.mobylosangelesarchitecture.com.
On November 28, 2011, City of Vancouver Planning Director, Brent Toderian, spoke to the members of the Urban Development Institute on issues relating to affordability, city planning, CACs, architecture and housing supply:
You can follow along with the slides below (or download them for future reference):
It’s TEDx season. Between now and mid December, 100′s of independently organized TEDx events will be held throughout the world, including here in Vancouver as well as Phoenix. For those unfamiliar with TEDx events, here how the main TEDx site describes them:
Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.
As a TEDx alumnus, I have a special place in my heart—and mind—for these local events. Sure, the main TED events boast an impressive array of the world’s top minds, but the diversity that is on display at TEDx is unparalleled. The is especially true when it comes to talks about urbanism and cities. While was challenging to simply find five TED talks on cities, I had the opposite problem with TEDx; my challenge here was narrowing it down to just 5. In the end I failed to narrow the list to simply 5 and had to throw in an extra one.
Here are 6 of my favourite TEDx talks on cities.
Dan Burden presents the case for creating communities that are centered on people and not cars. He identifies the benefits to the community in terms of both vitality and economic well-being. As a leading expert in his field of creating livable communities he talks about the processes he uses and the results of his many projects.
Christian Sottile is principal of an urban design firm based in Savannah. His work has received over 25 awards, including an international Charter Award from the Congress for New Urbanism, and awards from the American Planning Association and the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. As a professor of Urban Design and Architecture at SCAD, USA Today named Christian one of the Top 100 Academics in the Nation.
Sustainable urbanisation of cities can create space for engaging all community members aged from 8 years through to 80 years.
As Director of Design & Urban Environment for the City of Melbourne with nearly 40 years experience as a practising architect and urban designer, Rob has produced a large number of strategic urban design solutions and projects in addition to design-research based urban projects and strategies, and has attracted over 100 state and national awards for excellence. A champion of both the arts and environmental sustainability he has worked to ensure that good urban design is established as a platform for city development into the 21st Century.
Using insights drawn from his work in business, entrepreneurship and social change, as well as modern GIS data, Naheed Nenshi explores the challenges of how a modern city like Calgary grows, and what some of the implications are for creating inclusive communities.
A brief look at trends shaping the way we will live and how cities must adapt to be successful. Carol Coletta is president of Coletta & Company, a consulting firm leading the start-up of ArtPlace, a new initiative to spark a creative placemaking movement across America. For the past six years, she was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. In 2008 she was named one of the world’s 50 most important urban experts by a leading European think tank and as one of the top 50 urban thinkers of all time by readers of PLANetizen.com.
Even with the extra video I included, I had to leave out several great talks. If i missed your favourites, please let me know in the comments
On September 21st, the SFU Centre for Dialogue hosted a public lecture on affordable housing featuring internationally recognized affordable housing expert Avi Friedman, Professor of Architecture at McGill University.
From the event site:
Metro Vancouver’s many attributes make it a highly desirable place to live and invest. Unfortunately, that makes housing, whether rental or ownership, unaffordable for many of the region’s citizens. The need to think outside the box about lower-cost residential options has become an urgent priority. Renowned international housing expert Dr. Avi Friedman will look at what’s making housing unaffordable in Metro Vancouver—as well as the direct and indirect contributions that affordable housing makes to communities. He will describe potential housing strategies, including examples of local and international projects, that offer innovative affordable housing solutions for this region.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend this lecture, but thankfully the SFU team recorded the presentation available online. Here it is. Note, it runs over an hour and a half, but it is well worth the watch. if you don;t have the time today, book mark this post for a rainy afternoon. For a written analysis of the event, check out this thorough analysis in the Tyee.
Running time: 1h 42 minutes
Dr. Avi Friedman received his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Town Planning from the Israel Institute of Technology, his Master’s Degree from McGill University, and his Doctorate from the University of Montréal. In 1988, he founded the Affordable Homes Program at the McGill School of Architecture where he teaches.
He is known nationally and internationally for his housing innovation and in particular for the Grow Home and Next Home designs. He is the author of ten books and was a syndicated columnist for the CanWest Chain of daily newspapers. He is a practicing architect and the recipient of numerous awards including the Manning Innovation Award and the United Nations World Habitat Award.
In the year 2000 he was selected by Wallpaper magazine as 1 of 10 people from around the world “most likely to change the way we live”.
Popular and quick to build, thousands of “Vancouver Specials” were constructed in the 1960s and 70s in blue-collar neighbourhoods all over the Lower Mainland. They have since become a dominant house type in Vancouver. But, whether it’s because of their economy or their ubiquity, there are few forms of housing more derided in the city than the Vancouver Special.
Personally, I have always considered Vancouver Specials to be the ugly duckling of residential architecture in the city.. To be sure, most are utilitarian and bland on the outside; but they have great bones that offer a unique potential for customization. As somebody who has renovated a similar style of house in Phoenix, I have been able to see beyond their ugly duckling beginnings and envision them blossoming into amazing homes.
A few intrepid homeowners have done just that by transforming their bland but utilitarian roots into enviable homes that even the most discerning judge would have to appreciate. This Saturday, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is inviting you to check a few of them out.
The 3rd Annual Vancouver Special Tour will get you inside to see how people have renovated and updated 5 east side Vancouver Specials. There will be four production Specials and one Strathcona “Super Special” designed by local architect Joe Wai on this year’s tour.
So don’t judge a house by its exterior, get inside 5 Specials to see if you really are a lover or hater of Vancouver Specials!
Saturday, September 24th, 2011
12 – 5pm
$28 +hst. (all proceeds go to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation)
Can be picked up at the VHF office, 402-510 West Hastings, and on the day of the tour at the VHF booth located at Garden Park, 2200 E. 3rd and Templeton (map).
Day-of ticket sales will be available while tickets last at the Info Booth.
Available on the Vancouver Heritage Foundation website.
NOTE: I will be volunteering in the later afternoon (from 2:30-5:00) at the Joe Wai Special. If you are on the tour, be sure to say hi!
This Thursday, one of Vancouver’s most respected urbanists, Michael Geller is being celebrated. Michael will present a retrospective of his career in architecture, public policy planning and real estate development.
This FREE event will take place at SFU Habour Centre in downtown Vancouver.
I have known of Michael for a while. He worked in the same circles as my father in the 1990s and I was a student at UBC. When I decided to return to Vancouver, Michael’s blog was one that I turned to. I found his observations about what was happening Vancouver’s planning and real estate sector extremely enlightening.
From SFU City:
The Geller Lecture
A few seats are left to at the SFU City reservation site here.
MICHAEL GELLER – FORTY YEARS ON
May 2010 marks the 40th Anniversary of Michael Geller’s graduation from the University of Toronto School of Architecture — and the beginning of an active career in architecture, planning, real estate development, and community life.
Michael Geller has had a coast-to-coast career in both public and private sectors, involving ground-breaking projects in Vancouver from False Creek South to UniverCity.
Join him for a four-decade retrospective of his work.
Michael Geller is a Vancouver based architect, planner, real estate consultant and property developer with four decades’ experience in the public, private and institutional sectors.
He is President of THE GELLER GROUP, which comprises Michael Geller & Associates Limited (MGAL), active in planning and real estate consulting; Laneway Cottages Inc. which is seeking opportunities to develop laneway housing around the region; and Geller Properties Inc., a builder of small, ‘niche’ residential projects including apartments for people who do not want to live in apartments.
Michael also serves on the Adjunct Faculty of SFU’s Centre for Sustainable Community Development.
Date: June 9, 2011, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: 1900 Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings V6B 5K3 [map]
Cost: Free, but Registration is required
PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.
The next PechaKucha Night Vancouver is a special edition. The theme of the evening will be West Coast Modernism. it is being held in partnership with the West Vancouver Museum + Archives and produced by Cause + Affect.
As usual, each presenter will have 20 images displayed for 20 seconds each. This gives them 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Then the lights dim and the next presenter comes on stage. The format keeps the evening fresh and humming along. It also gives the audience an overview of what some to the leading minds in the city are thinking and doing.
This edition will bring together twelve culturally minded architects, designers, writers and artists. Each of their works uniquely express an aesthetic that is found on the West Coast. See the full speaker list below.
As long time readings know, one of my guilty pleasures is mid-century modernism. While arguably antithetical to a walkable compact urbanism, mid-century modernism undeniably contributes a city’s sense of place. This is particularly true of younger western cities like Phoenix and Vancouver.
I am already intimately familiar with the desert school of mid-century modernism as exemplified in Phoenix and Palm Springs. But this will be my first real exposure to the ins-and-outs of west coast modernism. I’m super stoked!.
I’m especially looking forward to seeing filmmakers Michael Bernard and Gavin Froome present. They collaborated to produce a film on Coast Modern architecture from Los Angeles to Vancouver. Here’s a trailer:
Pecha Kucha Night volume 17
Thursday, June 23, 7pm,
Vogue Theatre (918 Granville),
Tickets $15. On sale now and expected to go quickly: www.voguetheatre.com
The 1800s brought an influx of new residents to North American cities. Here are a few of the urban innovations that were created to help deal with the rapidly increasing population:
Between 1821 and 1855, New York City nearly quadrupled in population. As the city expanded, people sought out the few existing open spaces, mainly cemeteries, to get away from the noise and chaotic life in the city. The need for a great public park was identified in the 1840s by prominent New Yorkers such as Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant and the first American landscape architect, Andrew Jackson Downing.
In 1853 the New York legislature designated a 700-acre area in Manhattan for a park. In 1857, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s Greensward Plan was selected as the winning design by the state-appointed a Central Park Commission. According to Olmsted, the park was
of great importance as the first real Park made in this century—a democratic development of the highest significance…
By the 1850’s single family houses were not enough to house the influx of people moving to New York City. This led to the construction of the first multi-unit residential buildings. Among the first was The Big Flat, a model tenement built by the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (now the Community Services Society). It was the largest multiple dwelling built in New York before the 1880′s. The six-story building was restricted to African-American families.
Originally there were eighty-seven apartments in the building, or about fourteen to a floor. Each had three rooms and a closet large enough that could be used as an extra bedroom. In most of the apartments only one room had access to outside air and the inner rooms were always dark and practically unventilated. Pressure was often inadequate to carry water above the street floor. In winter the toilets, the sink traps, and the water pipes, which were outside the building, froze solid.
In 1867 the Association sold the Home to the Five Points House of Industry, who renamed it the Workingwomen’s Home. It was to serve as a refuge where women whose wages were small would be “withdrawn from temptation and brought under moral and Christian influences.” The Home did not fill up and was sold a year later. Under private management the Big Flat lost whatever attributes of a model tenement it had once possessed. It was demolished over the winter of 1888-1889.
Riverside was the first planned suburban community stressing rural as opposed to urban amenities. It was designed by Frederich Law Olmsted, Sr. and Calvert Vaux as a garden suburb.
The town’s plan, which was completed in 1869, called for curvilinear streets, following the land’s contours and the winding Des Plaines River. The plan also highlighted a central square, located at the main railroad station and a Grand Park system that included both large parks and smaller parks and plazas provide for extra green spaces.* Residents could commute by rail to Chicago.
Chicago’s Home Insurance Building was designed and built by William Le Baron Jenney in 1884-85. It was the first high building to use a steel skeleton construction technique making it the first skyscraper (although not the tallest building in Chicago at the time) When built, the building was 10 stories high and 138 feet tall. Two floors were added in 1890 .
In his designs, Jenney used metal columns and beams, instead of stone and brick to support the building’s upper levels. As a result, the building weighed only one-third as much as a ten-story building made of masonry allowing for the construction on taller structures.
The Home Insurance Building is an example of the famed Chicago School of architecture. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for the 45-story Field Building (now the LaSalle National Bank Building).
Through his Yurbanism brand, Yuri Artibise explores the ‘Y’ of urbanism by sharing ways to make our cities more livable, community-oriented places one block at a time.
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