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European Transportation, a traveler’s perspective Part 1 of 2

by Naomi Buell, Marketing Coordinator for VIA Architecture

This past holiday season brought me the good fortune of traveling, something that happens to be my favorite activity. The trip brought me to France and Belgium and although it was only 10 days long, it was an amazing experience. While traveling I was fascinated by the different transportation methods and I kept comparing them to what people use in Vancouver. I took a few pictures to share my experience with others, so here they are to tell my story.

Like many cities, Paris uses a bike sharing program. The swipe of a credit card will allow you the use of a bicycle. I did not see as many people on bicycles in Paris as I did in Belgium and certainly not as many as I did when I was in Amsterdam but there was obviously an effort being made to provide them and I had heard that bike use had gained more popularity in Paris over the past few years. With a small pannier in the front (perfect for your baguette and fromage), who wouldn’t want to use one?

The metro in Paris was also a very popular method of transportation, in fact it has about 6 million patrons a day. My boyfriend and I learned just how busy it was when we experienced the morning rush hour and realized that getting the two of us with our luggage onto a train packed to the brim with people may be a slightly difficult task.

We …

Monday News Roundup

Jan 17, 2011

Vancouver developer eyes a break from social housing requirement (The Globe and Mail) For 30 years, the city has clung to a cherished goal of a social mix for residential megaprojects, requiring that one out of every five units be reserved for low-cost housing. This week, planners are recommending that goal be temporarily suspended for the final phase of development on the old Expo 86 lands after Concord Pacific, the Expo landowner, offered a special deal.

A guide to Green Building certifications (LEED, Built Green Canada, BOMA BESt) (Re:place) How do they decide a building is green? The Tyee Guide to green building certification systems in Canada. Third in a series.

If everyone moves to the city, what gets left behind (GOOD) Since 2008, more than half of humanity has resided in cities, and city dwellers make up more of the world population each year. Soon more than 25 cities will have populations of 10 million or more. Much has been made of the problems and opportunities presented by swelling urban populations and their impact on the environment. But considerably less fuss has been made over the corollary of this extraordinary urban growth: the fact that humanity is abandoning the countryside.

WindMade Label Will Tell You if Green Energy Powers Your Purchases (inhabitat) The WindMade label, which was just announced today, will be a new way for you to see whether or not the products you’re buying were manufactured using wind energy.

Houston Architecture Office Doubles as Beautiful …

Friday Feature: Agnes

Jan 14, 2011

Who are you and what do you do? Agnes LaPointe, intern architect. Born and raised in Malaysia, got my architectural degree and worked in Canada.

What made you decide to go into your field?

When I was a kid, my mom came home one day and caught me with crayons, with my bedroom walls completely covered with doodles… Guilty.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

You mean you get to draw all day and get paid for it? Cool! At least that’s what they think I do.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?

I have tremendous respect for a few of the professors from my architectural school. Their advice still continuously has an influence on my architectural career.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)

Learning how to communicate ideas, not just through drawings but also verbally and writing, in English!

What inspires you?

The beauty of life and everything that comes with it, especially my ever growing one year old.

What schooling is required for success in your career?

Two years of engineering prior to, 2 years Bachelor of Environmental Designs + 1 work term inclusive, 2 years of Master of Architecture + 2 work terms inclusive. At the end of it all it is only the beginning of a life long learning of this career.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?

Attributes of (Businessman …

Monday News Roundup

Jan 10, 2011

Portland is Building a 700-Foot Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists (Treehugger) The City of Portland is working to build a new bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5 to connect the historic Lair Hill neighborhood with the South Waterfront District. The bridge will span approximately 700 feet.

Gleneagles Community Center Regulates its Temperature With Thermal Mass (Inhabitat) The Gleneagles Community Center is a prime example of the potential the thermal mass process holds in storing energy inside a building. The tri-level community center relies on large overhangs, cast-in-place concrete floor slabs, tilt up concrete walls, radiant floors and a ground source heat pump to maintain a constant temperature inside the building.

California’s Slow Speed Amtrak Trains See Ridership Gain (Planetizen) The article focuses mostly on the San Jose/Oakland to Sacramento/Auburn Capitol Corridor line, the nation’s third busiest Amtrak line, noting it’s main competition: Intestate 80. The route now boasts the ‘highest on-time performance rate’, key to its 10.6% ridership increase over prior year.

Do roads pay for themselves? Nope (U.S.PIRG) Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

Old Rail Engine Repurposed as Giant Trash Inhaling Machine (Inhabitat) This old rail engine was assigned to be scrap until Indian Rail engineers decided to use it to clean up the tracks instead. It’s been fitted with a massive suction pipe that sucks up all of …

Friday Feature: Artour

Jan 07, 2011

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Artour and I’m a Transit Architect.

What made you decide to go into your field?

My cousin studied architecture and inspired me to become an architect. Originally I wanted to be an artist.

What did your family think of your chosen field?

My family always believed and supported me.

Who is the teacher who had the most influence on you and why?

Vitali Loskutov – A very bright, intelligent and talented practicing architect. He helped me to understand the architect’s role.

What was the biggest hurdle you faced along your educational path? (academic, financial, motivational, family or peer pressure, outside distraction, etc.)

Math, math and math again. I hate it …

What inspires you?

Almost anything may inspire me.

What schooling is required for success in your career?

Attending a School of Architecture (there are only two schools in Russia). In the USSR in the 80’s getting a diploma in architecture gave you the right to call yourself an architect.

What kind of people are the most successful in your field? Are there any specific attributes?

Well… I think business minded people are always more successful in any field.

What is the best advice you were ever given?

I’ve got a lot of them. The situation may measure the real value of advice.

Is your field growing? (ie. is there room for new entries and is there career growth?)

This is the beauty of life – Younger entrants are always coming and become leaders in the field . There is always room for them.

What advice would you give …

Tuesday News Roundup

Jan 04, 2011

We hope you all had a great New Years. To get back into the swing of things, we thought we would provide you with a “Tuesday News Roundup.”

Big Homebuilders Not Yet Embracing Green Standards (Planetizen) With few exceptions, America’s largest homebuilders are slower than companies in other fields to act on environmental concerns, according to a survey conducted by Calvert Asset Management Company.

Spending on major infrastructure in Canada to reach $96B, report says (Vancouver Sun) Premier Gordon Campbell and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Falcon officially launch construction of the new Port Mann Bridge and unveil its design in Surrey, Feb. 4, 2009. Spending on Canada’s aging infrastructure continues to grow, with the current crop of projects expected to total $96 billion, says ReNew Canada magazine, which Tuesday published its Top 100 projects 2011 report.

Vote on the future of Vancouver’s carbon tax (Tyee) Liberal candidate George Abbott would put the carbon tax to a province wide vote stating that “This is an important enough decision we need to make it with the people of British Columbia.”

New report says roads don’t pay for themselves (Planetizen) A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group PIRG’s report estimates that road construction has cost the American public $600 billion since the highway system began.

Planning Challenge 1: Commercial Aggregation and Subdivision (Planning Pool) The word “subdivision” is almost synonymous with the “suburbs.” The building blocks of many suburbs are subdivisions with names ranging from the biblical (“Green Acres”), …