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by Mel Ifada, VIA Architecture

VIA Architecture converted to Vision in February 2009. Vision is a Professional Services Management program for Project-related businesses. At that time, there was a relatively small group of companies in Vancouver, BC who used the program. However, the users were keen to collaborate and a ‘Vancouver Vision User Group’ was initiated.

There is a rather large network of User Groups in the States and now a growing number of them in Canada. The purpose of the User Groups is to provide a platform for all types of users (Accountants / IT / Human Resources / Project Managers, etc) to discuss + brainstorm problems and solutions. There is no sales pitch – just users talking to users, helping users, networking, sharing experiences, adding value to each other.

Earlier this year, the Vancouver Vision User Group leader changed careers from being an ‘IT Guru user’ to pursue an opportunity on the sales + support side of the business. This is a great indication of the outgoing leaders’ belief in the product and its potential for growth within British Columbia. However, it also meant that the User Group was in need of a new leader.

As I have personally benefited greatly from attending user group meetings and various other Vision meetings, I volunteered to take on this role. My expectation was that the meetings would continue to be a maximum of a dozen or so participants at any one time which is a manageable sized group to host at VIA Architecture’s Vancouver …

Monday News Roundup

Jul 12, 2010

Public Art meets Public Transportation (GOOD) Public art and public transportation combined? What more could you ask for?

Portland Does it Again (PriceTags) PDX comes up with another great idea to celebrate its public spaces – this time its bridges.

Germany Targets 100 percent Renewable Electricity by 2050 (Treehugger) Germany is already a global leader in solar power, but that’s just a start as far as Germans are concerned.

Evergreen Line a Go (Beyond Robson) Despite uncertainty over the project’s funding, Metro Vancouver’s Evergreen transit line – a new rapid transit line that will connect Coquitlam to Vancouver via Port Moody and Burnaby – will proceed as scheduled, according executive director Dave Duncan.

Pavilion made from recycled Speedos (Treehugger) This amazing pavilion designed by students at Chelsea College of Art & Design has been on show during the London Festival of Architecture for the last couple of weeks. It is made from the unlikeliest of materials, Speedo swimsuits, and we think it’s a fantastic example of the design possibilities that can be found in the upcycling process.

Community garden accessible to all (Straight) Jill Weiss has designed the city’s first community garden accessible to people with disabilities.

Street density by transportation mode (The Transit Pass)

The Vancouver model comes to China (Crosscut) Expos are about the world, but also remaking cities. Shanghai’s fair showcases urbanism, which includes a Northwest pavilion that promotes density but will sell …

Friday Feature: Diana

Jul 09, 2010

Who are you and what do you do? Diana Wellenbrink – architect. Back in my home country I was arch.Diana Popova — when you’re an architect in Bulgaria, you put your title in front of your name just like doctors do.

What made you decide to go into your field? When I was twelve, I visited the home- museum of Victor Vazarely in Pecs, Hungary. I was so impressed by the two-dimensional transformation, textural effects, the play of perspective, and light that upon returning back home I started painting (of course trying to imitate the scene). Sometimes I wish to be as excited about other things now as I was then. The built up knowledge end experience seems to steel that “virgin” appreciation and joy of discovery. Though I still could wow loudly — a couple of years ago I visited Louis Khan’s Salk Institute Campus and no matter that I’ve studied about it before, I’ve read that the physical experience cannot be compared to anything.

What did your family think of your chosen field? My mother, a teacher in Chemistry and a widow raising two children, asked shortly “How much do you need?”; I told her and that was the end of the conversation. She gave me the money I needed to study drawing for 3 years and mathematics for 2 years in order to be accepted in the University. Mother, thank you! I hope one day I would be able to support my son in pursuing his dream.

Who is the teacher who …

An Eight Year Old Perspective

by Richard Leong, VIA Architecture Background info for this post:

“The current trend of density and downtown living has left me thinking of a more simple time, less complicated, perhaps naïve and due to traces of synaptic loss, slightly idealized. What is written is a stream of consciousness memory/reaction that I have culled from the back alleys of my memory…”

The imagery is a metaphor for the fact that in Vancouver, and maybe in Seattle as well, that the natural surroundings overpower the architecture. How do we reconcile this? Can we make architecture stand out? When thinking of community, place and neighbourhood, what is it that brings forth the fondest of memories? What can we do as architects, planners, and designers to make something that the public can make their own?

With the mist clearing, the scene unfolds with vivid colours of emerald greens, ultramarine blues in battle with dreary greys, and hue upon hue of cooler greys. Once in a while a warmer grey appears but this is a rare occurrence. The paranoid skies erupt with the crying of clouds and a sudden splashing of raining rain beats down, but as I have said earlier the skies are untrusting and do not maintain any sort of consistency. Within minutes, the streaming sunlight and the nakedness of the sun is exposed in all of its glory. Mountains emerge with their dotted viridian trees and in the foreground bright orange red cranes are thrust into one’s field of vision. These cranes are loud at times …

Who are you and what do you do? I’m a British Architect working in the field of Transit Architecture (aka station design) with VIA Architecture

What made you decide to go into your field? I originally wanted to become a pilot but my parents were frightened that I might be conscripted and be made to bomb people. Granted, it sounds ridiculous now, but at age 13 I looked through a careers book and didn’t get past the letter A. I really enjoyed drawing and was fascinated by how things were put together so a career in Architecture appealed to me. I’ve worked in many fields from millionaire’s mansions and mixed use projects to humble cabins. Transit Architecture I champion in particular as it helps improve the quality of life of so many people from so many social backgrounds every single day.

What did your family think of your chosen field? “That’ll be handy for renovations.”

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why? Frank Lyons who was one of my Diploma tutors in the School of Architecture of the University of Plymouth. He made it ok to move on from white modernism , to embrace materiality and to inject humanism into architecture.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.) The death of both my parents while I was still completing my schooling.

What inspires you? Making a positive impact to people’s lives

What schooling is required for success in your career? The …

Monday News Roundup

Jun 21, 2010

ARC – International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition Competition that blends transportation and bio-cultural networks with a much needed architecture.

Take this quiz: are you addicted to oil? (Simple Steps) Like other addictions, our addiction to oil has made us heedless of the damage it causes ourselves and the world around us. Take our quiz and find out if you’re ready for change.

Vancouver: family friendly city (Vancouver Sun) Take a bow, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Kitchener and Guelph, Ont.: you’re the most family-friendly cities in the country, according to one new ranking.

Portland mayor wants 20-minute neighborhoods (Grist) Newish Portland Mayor Sam Adams wants to build more “20-minute neighborhoods” in his fair city.

Local power – tapping distributed energy in 21st century cities (Grist) Residents of Hammarby Sjöstad, a district on the south side of Stockholm, Sweden, don’t let their waste go to waste. Every building in the district boasts an array of pneumatic tubes, like larger versions of the ones that whooshed checks from cars to bank tellers back in the day. One tube carries combustible waste to a plant where it is burned to make heat and electricity. Another zips food waste and other biomatter away to be composted and made into fertilizer. Yet another takes recyclables to a sorting facility.

Who says what’s livable (American City) Per Infrastructurist, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that livability means “being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the …

Friday Feature: Amanda

Jun 18, 2010

Who are you and what do you do? I’m an intern architect, working in the transit and urban design sector, an area I never would have imagined myself while in school. And yet I find myself loving it!

What made you decide to go into your field? After graduating high school, I only had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I figured I would go into engineering since I knew I had a fairly analytical mind but it just didn’t get me all that excited. So I went to community college at BCC for two years where I took an architecture history course as an elective and absolutely loved it. I was fascinated by how much personal and artistic expression went into architecture and I enjoyed hearing about the unique stories associated with every building. After that, I was sold – and off to architecture school I went.

What did your family think of your chosen field? My family was pretty happy about it actually. They felt like it would be a good blend of engineering and art. Coming from an apparel designer (my mother) and an artists/sign-maker (my father), it’s funny that being an architect hadn’t dawned on me earlier.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why? That is really hard for me to answer because I feel like I had a number of really good professors who each taught me aspects of who I am (as a designer). However, there is one professor from …

by Wolf Saar, Director of Practice for VIA Architecture

The other day, I was going through my normal weekend routine of picking things up, and as I was making my way downstairs with my arms full of laundry and various other items, I noticed I hadn’t hung up a shirt that was laying on the bed. Instead of putting the stuff down, or getting to it later, I decided to try and hang up the shirt with my free hand.

Like an acrobat I repeatedly tried (ultimately unsuccessfully) to place the shirt on the hanger without the hanger swinging away. I finally dropped my pile of stuff and hung it up properly. Then I started thinking: what would I have done if my arm was in a sling? What if I had suffered a stroke and lost the use of my arm? As an architect and designer, what could I do to remedy that type of situation? This is a great example of what the aim of Universal Design really is: to make all things accessible and able to be manipulated, regardless of ability.

Less ridiculous than my Saturday morning act is what my dad faces every day as an 89 year old experiencing the progressive diminishment of his abilities due to Parkinsons Disease. He currently lives in a 35 year old Burnaby, BC high rise condo with my mother; narrow hallways that hinder his passage with a walker, a standard tub that he cannot negotiate without complete assistance and doors with knobs …

Tuesday News Roundup

Jun 15, 2010

Janine Benyus using Biomimicry to Design Cities (Treehugger) Janine Benyus helps design cities the biomimetic way

Apartment Therapy’s ‘Small Cool Kitchens’ contest yields interesting observations (Apartment Therapy) (and) Treehugger — lessons from apartment therapy kitchen competition

The Way We Design Now (NYTimes) Allison Arieff – Design now exists less to shape objects than to produce solutions.

Denver Urban Farms (Grist) Denver busts urban farming’s yuppie stereotype

Good neighborhoods have lots of intersections (Grist) It’s a little counterintuitive, but it turns out that having lots of intersections is really important for neighborhood walkability and transit use

A Growing Concern (Earth Island) Can urban farms translate popularity into profitability?

The variety of American street grids (Discovering Urbanism)

Seattle’s waterfront streetcar – not coming back? (Human Transit) Ultimately, if Seattle loves the Waterfront Streetcar enough to pay for it, or get its tourists to pay for it, then by all means Seattle should have it. My job as a transit planner, though, requires me to ask, now and then, if the proposed service is going to be useful as transit.  Will this thing actually be useful to people who just want to get to where they’re going?

Blame it on the Train (NY Post) Late for work? NYC offers excuses via email

Friday Feature: Chris

Jun 11, 2010

Who are you and what do you do? My name is Chris Wanless. I am currently a third year architectural masters student from the University of Toronto completing a 6 month internship at VIA Vancouver.

What made you decide to go into your field? Growing up in a family of engineers, I have always wanted to build; to be involved with the possibility of changing the world around me.

What did your family think of your chosen field? My family is quite proud of my pursuits and the passion I have for them.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why? Scott Sorli. He taught me how to see.

What was the biggest hurdle you have faced or are facing along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.) The biggest hurdle I continue to face in design is to be able to feel at the same time as thinking; to supress the overly rational in favour of the phenomenological.

What inspires you? Simplicity and beauty.

What schooling is required for success in your career? A masters degree in Architecture is required to work for yourself, which is my ultimate goal.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes? In my experience, those architects that are equally talented, knowledgable and personable have the best chance to suceed. I say chance as fortune and fate are inseparable as in any case.

What is the best advice you were ever given? Blur your eyes in front of a design. If …