Video> Shanghai Talks: Toronto city planner James Parakh talks skyscraper design, sustainable urbanism

Architecture Development International Midwest News Skyscrapers Urbanism

Last September the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat invited me to serve as the special media correspondent for its Shanghai symposium, entitled “Future Cities: Towards Sustainable Vertical Urbanism.”

I conducted video interviews with dozens of architects, developers, building managers, and others on topics relevant to tall building design and sustainable urbanism. Among the many designers, engineers and other tall building types I interviewed was Toronto City Planner James Parakh.

Parakh talked about enhancing public space through Toronto’s POPS program for privately-owned public spaces. Downtown Toronto has added over one million square feet of these developments over the last 10 years—think plazas, parks, pedestrian connections.

“I often say it’s a win-win,” he said. “The developer gets extra height through the process.”

As one of the newest hotbeds for tall building development, Canada’s largest city is trying to walk a line between runaway “Manhattanization” and suburban sprawl. At the same time Parakh said Toronto is grappling with questions about its urban character—from the top of its skyline down to its pedestrian spaces.

“I don’t think every building is a landmark building and I don’t think every building should be a gateway building,” he said. “How do we intersperse tall buildings—whether it’s in Toronto or Chicago or Mumbai or São Paolo—how do we do that the best that we can so that we can improve the quality of life for people around the world?”

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