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2009 Archive

Here is the second clip from the Seattle debate that highlights a discussion on transit in Seattle and Vancouver.

Who’s got it right? Vancouver with an integrated multimodal transit network and no downtown highways? Or Seattle with a comprehensive highway network and a brand new transit line?

Watch this clip and let us know what you think:

We are excited to have guest blogger Knute Berger, Crosscut’s chief Northwest native and author of Pugetopolis, to kick off the Seattle vs. Vancouver Parks discussion. Among many other thought-provoking blog posts on Crosscut, he wrote an excellent piece on The Great Urban Debate.PARKS: SEATTLE vs VANCOUVERby Knute Berger

Every Seattleite who visits Vancouver envies Stanley Park: beautiful woods, trees and trails, a wonderful perimeter pathway, amenities like restaurants and tribal totem poles. Like great city parks, it offers both retreat and activities. Who wouldn’t want one in their city?

Seattle has approached parks differently. We have no big central park, but the elements of one have been dispersed throughout the city: a zoo in Woodland Park, an Arboretum and tea garden in Montlake, waterfront walkways at Lincoln Park, Discovery Park, Seward Park and Green Lake. Much of this is threaded together by Olmsted-designed boulevards. It seems to me that Seattle has de-centralized the urban park and made many of its neighborhoods park-like.

In the 1990s, Seattle battled over creating a big central park at South Lake Union with land to be donated by Paul Allen. Proponents of the “Seattle Commons” argued that it would fix a long-standing central park deficit in Seattle and help spur development. Opponents argued that it was too expensive, too much of a benefit a single developer (Allen), and some questioned the need for a Stanley-like Park. From the top of the Space Needle, you can see at least three U.S. …

Here is the first clip from the Seattle debate that highlights a discussion on parks in Seattle and Vancouver.

Who’s got it right? Vancouver with Stanley Park? Seattle with Olmsted Parks?

Watch this clip and let us know what you think:

The Great Urban Debate, Round Two: SeattleJune 18th, 2009

The Great Urban Debate, Round One: VancouverJune 16th, 2009

There are many varying topics presented throughout this debate — it was difficult to decide what points to touch on in only 90 minutes. We met with the debate participants to choose which topics we felt were most pressing in each cities, as well as what things each city could learn from the other city.

Over the next few months, we hope to continue the conversation and really look into ‘lessons learned’ with both Seattle and Vancouver.

CBC Early Edition

Jun 22, 2009

CBC Early Edition had Gordon Price and Peter Steinbrueck on their show Tuesday morning before the first debate as a “mini-debate” to get people excited about the actual debates coming up.

The videos of the debate will be posted here on our blog early this week, so stay tuned!

A Vancouver city planner summed up the debate well when he said: “Perfect debate – Vancouver is pleasant and ‘well planned’ while Seattle is bold but struggles to plan and be sustainable.”

Over the next few weeks, we hope to continue the conversations that this debate has started. We will post clips from the debates with analyses and thoughts from different people in each city about how to address various issues that were raised.Thanks to everyone who participated — both events were lively and well attended and we hope that you will all continue the conversation with us!The full versions of the debate will be available on the blog and on our website next week.Following the Seattle Debate, Gordon Price and Peter Steinbrueck with their “keys to the city”

Because of the anticipated numbers at both events, we will be offering a live webcast for both the Vancouver and Seattle debates.

If you have any questions, please let us know (contact us link to the right).

Come hear two of the region’s most provocative thinkers call it as they see it, in what will be a stimulating, no-holds-barred public event that is sure to serve up some challenging new ideas.

In addition to questions taken from the floor immediately following the debate, attendees will have an opportunity to submit questions in advance by entering them in the form below.

For official twitter coverage, follow @viaarchitecture.To join the conversation, use #VIADebate.



We often talk about having great streets as part of our city fabric in North America, but when asked what makes a great street, it is very difficult to put into words.

We often say that there should be good activities on it, there should be eyes on the street, it should be 24 hours, it should be pedestrian oriented, room for all modes of transit, etc


But the difficulty is is that we can talk about it poetically, but little is known about the mathematics.• What width should a sidewalk be?• Does a great street work with parking on both sides?• How wide should the moving lane be?• Do you need substantial street trees?• What are the specific characteristics of shops and restaurants that animate a street?• What is the role of sunlight and air movement?At this point in time, in our practice, a lot of the answers are generic and not specific. Many of the images that we show as examples illustrate the poetic aspects without much detail of the specifics of some of the above considerations.


The intent of my trip to Budapest, Venice, and Vienna is to understand what makes a great street. One of the basic premises of our practice is that a great street is a great place to walk or to hang out. These three cities have different characteristics that may shed some light on the relationship between people walking and the …