Posts tagged with "Vancouver":

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Museum of Vancouver exhibition deftly critiques the city's red-hot real estate market

There is something surreal in the new exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver, on view until May 15. It’s not just the museum’s late ’60s architecture by Gerard Hamilton. It’s not the giant crab in a fountain that ushers patrons into a dome-like edifice with a cavernous interior reminiscent of some sci-fi film about “the future.” (George Pal’s The Time Machine springs to mind.)

It’s also not the slightly trippy Brian Eno music, or even the Through the Looking Glass–style mirror (Can You Afford to Be Here by Dialog) that exhales phrases in different languages about what it’s like to live in the city with the highest cost of housing in North America. This mirror returns the civic gaze—and responsibility—to the viewer.

Rather, it’s the whole meta-theater of it: the museum is actually a kind of real estate sales center where patrons are prospective buyers.

“Vancouver is a city in flux, undergoing massive growth and redevelopment,” said Gregory Dreicer, MOV’s director of curatorial and engagement, who worked alongside exhibition designers McFarlane Biggar Architects. “With as many as three homes demolished each day—often to make room for denser living—we are experiencing a watershed moment in the history of the region.”

While talking about the price of real estate has become something of a civic obsession, Dreicer said the aim of the exhibition is “to shift the conversation from real estate to the state of the city.”

Your Future Home opens with a huge wall of photographs of various housing types in the city—from a homeless tent to a mansion to an old railway house—all underlined in red to mimic the current trend in real estate marketing literature. (In Vancouver’s overheated market, homeowners regularly receive such notices of recent sales in their mailboxes.)

The intent here is to focus on the residential typology itself, rather than to fetishize price per square footage, and the wall of homes is an intriguing mosaic of Vancouver housing styles.

Next, patrons are ushered into a mock sales center with a collage of various parts of the city. Faux sales sheets offer statistics about the city itself—as if it were a single property. An adjacent wall, plastered with a huge image of the typical Vancouver city view, is punctuated by various other statistics like “50% of Vancouverites use private cars, 5% bicycles.” Across from this view, four flat screen monitors offer maps and statistics compiled by planner Andy Yan, illustrating the exhibition’s central themes: housing affordability, residential density, ease of transportation, and quality of public space.

An animated video of Vancouver draws one into city streetscapes. Across from it another aerial view photograph of the city proves revealing: Vancouver’s downtown is a tiny peninsula of density, surrounded by a sea of suburban style housing.

With text noting a projected population increase of 150,000 residents by the year 2040, the question, Where will they all live? hovers (metaphorically) above the idyllic view.

The third section attempts to answer that question while raising many others. While uneven at times, and slightly overwhelming, this part of the exhibition has a curiously Victorian feel about it, with many of the several dozen mini-exhibits mounted on blocks, reading like dioramas reimagined for the 21st century.

One by Erick Villagomez called The Grid is a simple wooden cube with a grid imposed on it, and a kind of viewmaster-cum-pinhole-camera that looks down into a montage of fantastical civic images that aim to encourage a “new social and spatial order.”

The grid is applied to a Vancouver beach, and a dense cluster of high-rises applied to a wealthy waterfront enclave. Nature is overlaid with built environment and new urban models are superimposed on suburban landscapes, offering inventive takes on new ways to inhabit the city.

Another highlight is architect Gregory Henriquez’s Vertical City that plays with the idea of a dramatic shift in scale and Vancouver’s obsession with “the view.” Here, a model for a 2,500-foot-tall highrise is created by upending a 15-block area of the city complete with existing buildings. A large roof top terrace features a “sky garden” and a dizzying view.

Framed by a loop of photos of important civic events and city builders on one end and a film about public space and transportation on the other, neighborhood histories—how Chinatown residents rallied to save their community from a freeway—mingle with imagined futures like a post-global warming transportation network for bicycles.

Architect Oliver Lang offers a dense pyramidal model as an alternative to both low-rise sprawl and highrise living. And architect Javier Campos presents Density in Section as a kind of cri de coeur for greater diversity of built environment in the city, one that mixes residential, commercial, and industrial. Fittingly for a rail against homogeneity and conformity, the model consists of a series of tiny multi-leveled flags bearing images of buildings that form a triangular peak, and read like banners of protest.

Your Future Home is as much a call to arms to save the soul of a place in danger of becoming a resort town for the wealthy, as it is a celebration of the city. The exhibition manages to foil Vancouver’s real estate–fueled fortress mentality of isolation and unaffordability even as it critiques it, simply by engaging patrons and offering both historical insight and potent possibilities.

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Vancouver buys $C55 million rail line for future trail

In just the past half decade, rails-to-trails conversions have blossomed en masse. New York City has its High Line (and will eventually have a Low Line), while Chicago now has The 606. Atlanta’s BeltLine is under construction with an expected completion by 2030. It seems that every city wants a rails to trails project, and now Vancouver has taken concrete steps toward joining that club. Earlier this March, the City of Vancouver made a deal with Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) to convert an old railway into a walking and biking greenway. The city will pay $C55 million (about $U.S.40 million) for the just over 5.5 mile corridor that would start near False Creek (in the heart of the city), run south to Marpole (at the city's edge), and continue further to the west of Highway 99. “CP Rail has owned the land for more than a century, but it hasn't run trains on it for about 15 years. Vancouver had previously offered to buy the land, but the two sides could never agree on a price,” reported CBC News in Canada. “At one point, CP argued that the land was worth $[C]400 million, a figure the city disputed.” The dispute between the city and CP made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006, which gave the city the right to develop the land. But it also effectively railbanked the Arbutus corridor, which will allow CP to carry light rail next to the future walking and biking path. The proposed greenway development is expected to cost up to $35 million. The first rail trail in the U.S.—the Wisconsin Elroy-Sparta State Trail—opened in 1967. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit, is trying to create trail systems within 3 miles of 90% of Americans by 2020. To learn more, here is a searchable database and interactive map of U.S. rails-to-trails.
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Removal of Vancouver's Viaducts: Making room for housing, culture, and parks

On October 27th, the Vancouver City Council voted 5–4 to remove the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, making space for housing, culture, and parks. The viaducts were part of a proposed freeway system through East Vancouver in 1971, until residents protested, and the project was abandoned. In June 2013, the city council made a unanimous vote to study the potential impact of removing the viaducts that connect the downtown to neighborhoods on the city’s East side. Since that unanimous vote, city staff consulted communities and studied traffic. Reports show the viaducts hold six-percent of trips to and from downtown, and it would cost $50 to $65 million to make the viaducts earthquake safe. Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a written statement, "There is no decision at the city that has been more scrutinized, studied, deliberated or consulted on than whether or not to remove the viaducts, and after four years, it is time to move forward." To compensate the loss, a four-lane, at-grade road will be built, adding only one to three minutes in vehicle travel time, while the available land becomes thirteen acres of park space. Also, two city blocks will be preserved for housing, providing 300 below-market units. Although the demolition will cost approximately $200 million, the city anticipates a surplus of $100 million by the time the project is complete in 2025. Previously, Toronto leaders voted to preserve their elevated downtown freeway, prioritizing commute time.
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Herzog & de Meuron Reveals Renderings for New Vancouver Art Gallery

After years of planning, the Vancouver Art Gallery revealed renderings for its new home by Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron this Tuesday. The conceptual design is a striking departure for a city of tall, slim towers, but an ongoing motif for the firm.  Concept images depict wood and glass clad cantilevered boxes of varying sizes hovering over downtown Vancouver. The new project would fill in what is now a parking lot several blocks east from the current museum. Vancouver urban planners are frequently recognized for embracing both density and nature—and the design for the new museum building also seeks to unite the two. In the renderings, the vertical museum—topping out at seven stories—rises from a public 40,000-square-foot garden courtyard. The expansion would create 85,000 square feet of galleries, including an admissions-free ground level and a seventh-floor terrace displaying sculptures. There are also plans for an education center, a theater, a library, as well as a cafe, bringing the new space to a grand total of 310,000 square feet. There would also be room to grow vertically in the future. “It is so vertically dominated, this city, that to do a museum [that] would only stay on the ground – you couldn’t do it. You have to explore the height which is so much a topic of this city," Christine Binswanger, senior partner at Herzog & de Meuron told the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail. The city is leasing the land for the new building to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The estimated cost for the project: $350 million—to be achieved through a mix of private and public funding, with an expected opening in 2021.
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Photographer Wayne Thom captured Late Modernism like no one else, and now his archive is looking for a home

As 1970s and 1980s architecture returns to vogue, a new recognition of those associated with its making and documentation also arises. So it is with Wayne Thom, long the preeminent architectural photographer of the large, Late Modern building by the large firm. Thom began photographing in the late 1960s and his work in Los Angeles, the Western U.S. and beyond to the Pacific Rim documented changing tastes and approaches toward the architectural subject. Hundreds of images are on view on his website. It’s a distinctive and significant body of work, but one without a home. Presently Thom is looking for an organization or institution to take on his sizeable and meticulously organized archive. As time goes on, Thom’s remarkable work seems increasingly ill-suited for sequestration within any one house, including his own. Born in Shanghai in 1933, Thom was raised in Hong Kong, and emigrated to Vancouver in 1949 with his family that includes brother Bing Thom who went on to become a highly noted Canadian architect. Arriving in the States in 1964, Wayne graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in 1968. By the following year he was working with A. Quincy Jones (“A.Q.”) who gave him his big Los Angeles break. Jones, and others whom Jones later introduced on Thom’s behalf, were impressed with approaches that would over time become Wayne Thom hallmarks. These include the use of natural light only, no props whatsoever, and big buildings—particularly the high rise, as his subject. A breakthrough assignment, Wayne’s prominence further rose with his image of the 1971 CNA Park Place Tower in the Westlake section of Los Angeles. Completed by Langdon & Wilson, CNA Park Place was the first all-over smooth-grid mirror glass skin building—a soon to be corporate vernacular—completed in the Western United States, and likely the Country. Thom’s image of the building overlooking Lafayette Park and the people within it won the First Award of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass (PPG) Architectural Photographers Invitational in 1973. Among his clients through the 1970s, Thom frequently worked with the A.C. Martin office where he photographed a variety of projects including their various Downtown LA projects, the underrated (and unfortunately renovated) Sears West Coast headquarters, and even an A.C. Martin–designed jet interior. In that decade he also began steady, multi-year work as the primary photographer for William Pereira (“Bill”); San Francisco’s Transamerica Building was among his many Pereira assignments. Among other publications, Thom’s images were featured in Progressive Architecture, Architectural Record, Architectural Forum, and Domus—where he photographed for Gio Ponti, the magazine’s founder. His award-winning Bonaventure Hotel image is the February 1978 Progressive Architecture cover. Architect Arthur Erickson, whom Thom knew since his much earlier Vancouver years, tapped him to assist in assembling the team of associate architects, landscape architects and designers that ultimately won the 1980 competition to redevelop Bunker Hill sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. In a highly publicized coup, they battled against the “All Stars” team, which included Barton Myers, Frank Gehry, Ricardo Legorreta, Charles Moore, Cesar Pelli and others under Maguire Partners Development. Yet says Thom, “We won the battle but lost the war;” aside from a single Erickson building and the hardscape (Two California Plaza was completed by A.C. Martin) the rest of Erickson’s winning scheme was never realized. Thom continued in full-time practice until 2013, when he curtailed his workload. Living in Rowland Heights, he maintains meticulous records for his thousands of negatives and slides plus hundreds and hundreds of proof books and presentation prints. Now, he’s interested in releasing all of it. In addition to his artifacts, the photographer’s memory is institutional and he seems to have known every single Los Angeles Late Modernist, with insightful if not funny tidbits on most of them. If it all possible, his basic hopes are that archive stay intact and be made available to the public.  
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Ole Scheeren wants to transform Vancouver's glass skyline with this cantilevering tower

If you took Herzog & de Meuron's so-called "Jenga Tower" in New York City and combined it with NBBJ's so-called "Jenga Tower" in Cleveland, you would have something resembling Büro Ole Scheeren's proposed residential tower in Vancouver, which, sure, kind of looks like a game of Jenga. The firm's first North America project would land at 1500 West Georgia Street in Downtown Vancouver and rise 48 stories. The tower, with its cantilevering volumes, is intended to break up the monotony of the city's glassy skyline which the firm summed up as "extrusions of generic towers that don’t engage their environment and create isolation rather than connection." To change that, the tower has a unique massing that is supposedly intended to free up space at the street level for things like a public plaza and an "amplified reinterpretation" of the site's existing water feature. Unspecified "renewable energy sources" stuck into the building's crown would provide 100 percent of the power for these public amenities, helping the building hit its LEED Platinum target. The project is still in its early days as Ole Scheeren and Francl Architecture have only recently sent a letter of inquiry to the city about the redevelopment, which is being developed by Bosa Properties. [h/t Dezeen]
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Perkins+Will Builds a Sustainability Beacon

Building technology research center features wood, integrated photovoltaics, and green wall.

When John Robinson began formulating a vision for the University of British Columbia's (UBC) Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), he did not start small. Robinson, who is responsible for integrating academic and operational sustainability at the university's Vancouver campus, dreamed of constructing the most sustainable building in North America, a monument to and testing ground for energy-generating strategies. Invited to join the project in 2001, architects Perkins+Will sought an approach combining passive design and innovative technology. Featuring a facade of locally manufactured wood panels, high performance glazing, solar shading with integrated photovoltaics, and a green wall sunscreen, CIRS is a living laboratory for the research and practice of sustainable design. The initial concept for the building included 22 goals centered on three themes, explained Perkins+Will's Jana Foit. First, CIRS was to have a net positive environmental impact. In addition, the structure was designed to provide an adaptive, healthy, and socially generative workplace for researchers, staff, and students. Third, CIRS would utilize smart building technologies for real-time user feedback and testing. The building envelope was a critical component of the project's overall environmental strategy on both conceptual and practical levels. "The overarching design idea is to communicate sustainability, to make it visible and apparent," said Foit. In terms of pragmatics, the architects focused on reducing heat gain and providing 100 percent daylighting to the interiors.
  • Facade Manufacturer Silva Panel (rain screen), Kawneer (curtain wall), Green Screen (vegetated screen), Solarity (PV panels)
  • Architects Perkins+Will
  • Facade Installer Heatherbrae Builders (rain screen), Glastech (curtain wall)
  • Facade Consultant Morrison Herschfield
  • Location Vancouver, BC
  • Date of Completion 2011
  • System wood rain screen, fixed sunshades with integrated PVs, green wall, high-performance glazing
  • Products Multiple Ply Cedar Panels from Silva Panel, Kawneer glazing, Green Screen vegetated screen, Solarity PVs
To reduce solar gain, Perkins+Will reduced the window area from the current code of 40 percent maximum to 31 percent. They installed fixed and operable triple-glazed windows on the ground floor, and fixed and operable double-glazed windows above. For cladding, the architects selected Multiple Ply Cedar Panels from locally-developed Silva Panel—one of the first solid wood products designed for rain screen application. "The exterior panels were detailed and designed to be removable, to allow for material testing and research," said Foit. CIRS' two-pronged solar shading program includes a network of fixed shades with integrated photovoltaics and a green wall. The former results in 24,427 kilowatt-hours per year in energy savings. The architects designed the green wall, meanwhile, to protect the west-facing atrium, which lacks a mechanical heating or cooling system. Together with a combination of solid spandrel and vision glass, the living screen achieves 50 percent shade during the warmer months. "The plants are chocolate vines, which lose their leaves in winter, allowing passive heat gain into the building," explained Foit. "In the summer, when the vines are in full bloom, the leaves provide shading for the atrium." In an important sense, the CIRS story did not conclude once construction was complete in 2011. Rather, the proof of CIRS' value as a demonstration tool is in its ongoing operations. The building returns an impressive 600 megawatt-hours of surplus energy to the UBC campus each year—and continues to rack up sustainability prizes, including the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada's 2015 Green Building Award. But perhaps more importantly, thanks to publicly available performance data and a "lessons learned" document compiled by UBC, CIRS has fulfilled Robinson's dream of promoting green design through the construction of a transparent, replicable model.
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Video> Bjarke Ingels explains his torquing Vancouver House

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has released a snazzy video of its eponymous leader explaining the design of Vancouver House, the firm's upcoming mixed-use project in—you guessed it—Vancouver, Canada. As you can see from the photo above, the development is focused around a 52-story tower that appears to be twisting and expanding as it rises. That eye-catching form was actually born out of a setback requirement aimed at limiting development alongside the adjacent Granville Bridge. As Ingels is wont to do, he incorporated the site limitation into his design and ended up creating an entirely unique building. To that end, he said Vancouver House is a "contemporary, Canadian evolution" of the Flatiron building in Manhattan. BIG's building is slated to open in 2018 but you can watch the video about it right this very second.
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New Buildings Institute catalogues the nation's net-zero buildings

The Vancouver-based New Buildings Institute (NBI) tracks energy efficient built work, and their 2014 update, “Getting to Zero”, provides a snapshot of the emerging U.S. market for net-zero buildings—those are structures that use no more energy than they can gather on site. In the United States, California leads in the number of low and zero energy projects with 58, followed by Oregon (18), Colorado (17), Washington (16), Virginia (12), Massachusetts (11), Florida (10), Pennsylvania (10), Illinois (8), North Carolina (8), and New York (8). NBI also compiled a database of all their buildings. They say architects and developers interested in pursuing net-zero design could find inspiration there, searching according to their local climate and/or building characteristics. The database includes energy-efficient and high-performance buildings that are not net-zero, as well. Though the trend has succeeded in garnering attention and excitement among many designers, true net-zero buildings remain elusive in the built environment. So far NBI has only certified 37 buildings as net-zero. That ranking is based on performance—each building underwent a review of at least 12 months of measured energy use data. If piece-meal projects aren't yet adding up to a groundswell of net-zero design, NBI is also pushing systemic change—rigorous energy efficiency standards recently adopted in Illinois took cues from the group's Core Performance Guide.
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Herzog & de Meuron Wins Bid For First Canadian Project at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Herzog & de Meuron will be designing the new Vancouver Art Gallery. The plan will double the size of the 300,000 square foot existing institution.The new Vancouver Art Gallery will be the Swiss firm's first Canadian project. HdM was selected out of the shortlist that consisted of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (New York), Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (New York), KPMB Architects (Toronto), and SANAA (Tokyo). The finalists, announced in January, were chosen out of 75 firms from 16 countries who submitted to an open Request for Qualifications process issued by the gallery. Conceptual designs are expected to be revealed in early 2015.
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Robson Redux Competition Brings a New Summer Plaza to Vancouver

For the fourth year running, Robson Street in downtown Vancouver will play host to a public art project designed to enhance people's connection to one another and people's connection to the space. The brief for "Robson Redux "entails transforming a street that acts largely as a pedestrian thoroughfare into something more akin to a plaza or city square for the coming summer months. On today, April 15th, a jury will select one of the 79 entries to build and install in time for Canada Day (July 1st for those not in the know). Loose Affiliates' Picnurbia, 2011's winner VIVA Vancouver, a subsidiary of the City responsible for public art programming, is the host of the competition, which was inaugurated in 2011. Local design collective Loose Affiliates were responsible for that year's winning design; rolling orange turf-covered hills traversed by occasional flat walkways and umbrellas. Subsequent winners Pop-Ups and Pop Rocks and Corduroy Road were continued efforts to recast Robson as a site for gathering rather than circulation. 2012 Winner Pop-Ups and Pop Rocks While only a single design will be realized, two additional submissions will receive honorable mention while online voting will decide the recipient of the people's choice award. The winner will remain in place through the end of August. On April 3rd all of 2014's entries were displayed in a public exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Last year's winner, Corduroy Road
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Help Artist Janet Echelman Bring a Colorful, Billowing Sculpture to Vancouver

Janet Echelman is a world-renowned artist known for her billowing, aerial sculptures of lace and netting. Her dynamic, colorful works have appeared in cities including San Francisco, Sydney, Seattle, and Amsterdam. And now, Echelman is planning her biggest work yet—this time in Vancouver. A 700-foot, 24-story high, flowing sculpture to coincide with her talk at TED’s upcoming 30th Anniversary Conference. But, before the sculpture can literally get off the ground, she’ll need $20,000 to pay for a crew and equipment. Enter, Kickstarter. In a video posted for the campaign, Echelman said the installation “will come alive at night with an interactive lighting installation that the public can experience and be a part of.” Know the other way to be a part of it? Yes, donate. And for those who do chip in, Echelman has created a special series of artworks.