Posts tagged with "Toronto":

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Michael Van Valkenburgh’s new Toronto park is a stormwater treatment plant in disguise

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates (MVVA) has taken its talents up north to Canada with the new Corktown Common park in Toronto. The 18-acre public space—which is part of the burgeoning, 80-acre West Don Lands neighborhood—was created with Arup and developed by Waterfront Toronto, the government-funded corporation spearheading the revitalization of the city's waterfront. The Common has all the requisite features and amenities to attract Torontonians and their kids to what was, until recently, a brownfield site. Using Brooklyn Bridge Park and Hudson River Park as reference points, the reclaimed space has an array of natural plants, landscapes, ecosystems as well as lawns, athletic fields, picnic tables, play areas, and a pavilion that includes a community kitchen. That can all be seen at first glance, but the $27 million park was built as more than a play area—it was built to work. Representatives from Arup told AN that the park is designed as a “cistern” that stores and treats stormwater to protect the surrounding neighborhood from flooding. This is done through natural elements like plantings, bioswales, a landscaped berm, and a living marsh. But the play areas do their part as well. Water used at the large splash pad, for example, is treated and then directed back through the marsh. “An expansive urban prairie on the berm will respond to changing water levels and frame the more active areas of the park,” MVVA said in a statement on its website. “To the west, lawns, marshes, and woodlands will provide settings for walking, cycling, sledding, sports, sunbathing, and public art, with a multifunction pavilion at the center.” This was all part of a vision to create a park that acts like a cistern, but doesn’t necessarily  look like one. This was the team's challenge: mask all the tricks and tools that make the park sustainable within the park itself. “If a mechanical engineer does her job right everything she does should be invisible,” said Jennifer McArthur of Arup.
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Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal

highways_to_boulevards_2 The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking. I-10/Claiborne Overpass - New Orleans The already aging Interstate 10 was heavily damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) suggested that the removal of the elevated portion of the highway would allow for the reclamation of 35 to 40 city blocks and 20 to 25 blocks of open space. With the help of public engagement Livable Claiborne Communities outlined a plan for a similar removal that would improve living conditions in the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the expressway. I-81 - Syracuse This road, including an elevated portion that runs through downtown Syracuse, was built in the 60's. Advocates for the transformation of the most urban portion of the freeway could be replaced by a boulevard that would connect neighborhoods, inject economic activity into the area, and be cheaper to maintain. Numerous local politicians have spoken in favor of such a plan and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) co-led the I-81 Challenge to examine traffic patterns and alternatives to the current state of the highway. Gardiner Expressway - Toronto Unpopular with local citizens, the overworked Expressway requires more than $10 million annually in repairs. Recently, the City of Toronto and WATERFRONToronto finished work on the Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment & Urban Design Study which will dictate the future of the portion of the Gardiner overlooking Lake Ontario. Route 5/Skyway - Buffalo The Skyway Bridge and Route 5 mar public views of the Buffalo River, diminish land values, and create a web of confusing traffic patterns predicated on inefficient one-way streets. The Department of Transportation rates the Skyway bridge as "fracture critical" while the Federal Highway Administration classifies the bridge as "functionally obsolete." It is likely to cost more than $50 million to maintain over the next two decades. Inner Loop - Rochester The Loop was built for the city Rochester once was, rather than the shrunken metropolis that stands today. For this reason much of the beltway carries traffic that could easily be carried by a urban avenue. Furthermore it constricts the downtown area, inhibiting development and isolating adjacent neighborhoods. In 2012 the city was awarded a USDOT TIGER grant to replace the eastern portion of the Loop with a two lane boulevard flanked by street parking. I-70 - St. Louis I-70 separates the city from the waterfront of the Mississippi River and Saarinen's iconic arch. Calls for bridging this divide by converting the expressway into an urban boulevard have been long simmering. Park Over The Highway is a $380 million project for a park and pedestrian and bike path that leaps I-70 in connecting the city to the area abutting the river. I-280 - San Francisco Meant to be part of a larger web of freeways that was ultimately halted by mid-century protests, the removal of this highway stub would increase the land values of the area by $80 million according to a report by Fourth and King Street Railyards. Replacing the strip with a urban boulevard would open the area for further redevelopment and allow for greater fluidity between neighborhoods. The city's Center for Architecture + Design has hosted a design competition for such a project. I-375 - Detroit This 1.06 mile strip served to divide portions of the city and contributed to the isolation and subsequent decay of once thriving black neighborhoods. Detroit's drop in population has lead to a 13% decrease in usage since 2009. In December of 2013, Detroit's Downtown Development Authority moved forward with alternative plans for the highway, with particular focus on converting the road into a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. Terminal Island Freeway - Long Beach As it stands the freeway currently serves a mere 14,000 vehicles a day, numbers that could drop further if plans to expand the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility come to fruition, a development that would redirect significant freight traffic in the area. Local nonprofit urban design studio City Fabrick have spear-headed a movement to convert the road into a greenbelt that would act as a buffer between residential districts and industrial port infrastructure. In 2013 the plan was awarded a Caltrans grant. Aetna Viaduct - Hartford This 3/4 mile stretch of elevated expressway was completed in 1965. In running directly through downtown Hartford the Viaduct destroyed historic architecture, public spaces, and severed inter-community links once easily traversed by foot. Initially set for costly re-surfacing that would increase its lifespan by 20 years, new plans are being considered for the heavily-trafficked road. Hartford officials and Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) are currently considering plans to re-align nearby rail tracks that would open 15-20 acres of nearby land for redevelopment.
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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Ousted from Office

Today, contentious Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was removed from office following a court ruling in a years-old conflict of interest case. The mayor has made enemies of many urbanists over the years, including Creative Class author Richard Florida, who called him "the worst mayor in the modern history of cities." More recently, Ford drew the ire of Toronto's bike community after making good on a promise to remove bike lanes from city streets. The mayor has vowed to appeal the decision and has the option to run for office again in an upcoming election.
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Toronto Bikers Revolt Against Mayor’s Attempts to Remove Bike Lanes

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has proven to be a controversial public figure, whether it's unsafe reading while driving, or now, removing Toronto's recently installed bike lanes on Jarvis Street.  Yesterday, city crews showed up in large scrubbing trucks to scrape away thin dividing lines from the street, only to encounter a small collection of riders who would not stand by idly. Instead the cyclists chose to lie down, sit, and ultimately blockade the street scrubbing vehicles, eventually forcing them to leave for the day. A subtle part of the infrastructure that regulates a city’s traffic, bike lanes on Jarvis Street in Toronto have been voted out by City Council to make room for a reversible fifth lane meant to improve traffic flow for automobiles. The lanes were part of street safety measures enacted by Ford's predecessor David Miller. Cyclists have been unhappy with the decision declaring that removing the lanes puts their safety at risk. A few have chosen to make their thoughts known—including freelance writer Steve Fisher who noted that, prior to the lanes, he was hit twice by passing cars. The small group of protesters sat in the bike lanes as scrubbing machines approached and attempted to go around them, but a game of  leap-frog commenced as protesters again moved themselves down the road ahead of the machines. Removal of the lanes continued again today and currently the dispute remains unresolved. Unable to work at night—due to noise restrictions—the scrubbing crews must complete the removal during the day. Police were on site today in an attempt to usher back protesters and allow the work to continue. One man was reportedly arrested and taken into custody this afternoon as the protest continues. The scene has been carefully observed from coast to coast in the United States as bike advocates worry of potential bike backlashes in local politics. New York has already gone through a lengthy fight over bike lanes installed by Mayor Bloomberg and Janette Sadik-Khan along Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and many observers are closely watching political views as the city prepares to elect a new mayor next year.
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Massive Project by Norman Foster could Transform Toronto

Starchitects are descending on Toronto. First it was Frank Gehry with his plan for three 80-story skyscrapers on top of an art museum, and now Norman Foster with a massive plan to redevelop the Metro Toronto Convention Centre area adjacent to the CN Tower and Rogers Centre Stadium. Developed by Oxford Properties Group and dubbed Oxford Place, the plan calls for upgrades to the current convention center and four new towers for housing, office space, a hotel, and a casino surrounding a five-and-a-half acre park spanning a railroad. An Intercontinental Hotel on the northeastern corner of the site would be demolished and replaced by two large towers containing a combined 3.1 million square feet of office and residential space atop one million square feet of retail and a massive 4,000-car parking structure. While site renderings are marked as illustrative massing diagrams, some have noted the resemblance of the two towers to Foster's proposal for the World Trade Center, nicknamed the "kissing towers." Overall, Oxford Place's 7.35 million square feet is expected to cost $3 billion, but is contingent on approval of the casino. The City of Toronto must give the final go-ahead before the casino can move forward. [Via Urban Toronto.]
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Mike Niven′s Condo Presentation Center: Eventscape

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A sales center on Toronto’s west side shows off a multifaceted approach to fabrication.

The new Studio On Richmond condominiums are located in the middle of Toronto’s Entertainment District, an emerging cultural area around Queen Street on the west side. The 31-story building, designed by Toronto-based Quadrangle Architects, includes 8,000 square feet of space that the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) will use as a public art gallery and café. The condo’s 2,950-square-foot sales center needed to reflect the area’s artistic vibe, so interior design firm Mike Niven Interior Design turned to Eventscape, a custom architectural fabricator also based in Toronto, to build a collection of faceted, folded elements to reflect the neighborhood’s personality and inspire potential condo buyers.
  • Fabricator Eventscape
  • Designer Mike Niven Interior Design
  • Location Toronto, Ontario
  • Completion Date February 2011
  • Material lacquer-painted MDF, brake-formed metal, polished stainless steel, wool, foam
  • Process CNC milling, individual templating, laser cutting, brake forming
Each of the presentation unit’s elements—a seating niche, a faceted millwork wall, a reception desk, a folded screen, and geometric ceiling and wall panels—called for a different fabrication technique, and each was made of a different material. Because all of the pieces required exact joints with even reveals, the team began with 3-D design and engineering drawings to determine the size and shape of each piece. To create a cave-like seating area at the center of the space, the team built CNC-routed ribs to define the installation’s profile and provide support horizontally and vertically. Next, CNC-milled templates were used to miter-cut foam that was then covered in bright red wool. On the opposite side, the 17-foot-long curved and faceted shell of the niche is composed of CNC-cut MDF panels coated in high-gloss white lacquer and attached to the frame with small hinges. A reception desk is composed of these same triangular shapes, but in polished stainless steel. The designer envisioned a large screen wall that would form one side of the entrance to the condo’s model suite. Eventscape created the structure by laser cutting long, V-shaped pieces of steel made by brake-forming, a process by which a sheet of metal is bent along a straight axis. Each of the screen’s bolted connections is unique. And because of the unit’s standard double-door entrance, the entire form had to be assembled on-site. A series of angled planes made with white upholstered aluminum frames decorates the sales unit walls and ceiling. To achieve a look of randomness, the team used tilted brackets, adjustable mounting hardware, and aircraft cable to secure the panels. Mirroring the installation’s faceted shapes, a rainbow-colored string art wall stretches the length of the unit. OCADU student artwork decorates this wall as well. Enlarged portions of these pieces are also affixed to some wall panels, a colorful signal of the building’s hope of becoming a local institution.
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Unveiled> Ryerson University Student Learning Centre

Toronto's Ryerson University announced plans this week for a bold Student Learning Center designed by Oslo-based Snøhetta and Zeidler Partnership Architects of Toronto. The 8-story structure will mix passive and active academic uses with street-level retail and will serve as the university's front door on busy Yonge Street. The buildings predominantly regular form clad in richly patterned glass has been chipped away at the corners and lifted above the street to provide a more dynamic shape. The main entrance plaza is marked by a similar chipping gesture marked in blue glass leading into a soaring multi-level lobby. Patterns on the glass curtain wall will filter the light quality inside the building. At the core of the building's design was the interplay of introverted study and open collaborative spaces. "The notion that learning is a static, solitary activity is outmoded," said Craig Dykers, Snøhetta co-founder, said in a release. "While it remains important to find places of introspection, it is also vitally important to create places where people can more actively seek knowledge, where social connections can intertwine and where all forms of activity, quiet and loud, can find a suitable home." Expected to earn LEED Silver certification, the Student Learning Centre will feature such sustainable elements as a green roof. The building is scheduled to begin construction later this year with an anticipated completion date in the winter of 2014.