In 2013, VIA’s Matt Roewe, his wife, and his sketchbooks took a trip through Europe. These are some of his sketches (you may click an image to view it larger).
You may have seen them around town. You might even enjoy one daily as you grab your morning coffee, or take a walk through your very own urban village— they’re called Parklets. These little dynamos of public space are changing the experience of the pedestrian environment throughout the city.
Parklets were first popularized by PARK(ing) Day, a nationwide annual celebration of guerilla urban design. On PARK(ing) day, street parking stalls are taken over in cities across the country— by artists, activists, designers, every day people wanting to take back their public spaces— and turned into temporary public parks. These little parks help mitigate the automobile-focused environment of urban areas, creating urban oases of seating, bicycle parking, and human-scale space.
Recognizing the success of PARK(ing) Day and the community value of these spaces, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) as part of its Public Space Management program, began the Pilot Parklet Program. The proposed program takes a cue from cities with successful parklet programs such as San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Montreal. Last year, SDOT began a call for applications to begin placing these parklets permanently around Seattle— parks to be designed and built as usable public spaces that are privately funded and maintained.
VIA Seattle’s James Underwood and Katie Idziorek, on behalf of VIA’s Community Design Studio, worked with The Uptown Alliance, a civic organization representing the Uptown neighborhood and urban center, to submit proposals for two different sites in the Uptown neighborhood. Of those two sites, one (in front of SIFF Cinema Uptown on Queen Anne Avenue North & Republican) was selected along with 14 others to begin construction. With the addition of Jared Slater of Slater Construction, the team set to work.
Working on a tight schedule set by SDOT, the process began with several design workshops facilitated by the Uptown Alliance to which members of the community and local business owners were invited to get involved and very good site be a part of the application and design process. These workshops helped to inform the process and determine the scope of the project. Throughout the community design process, the goals remained focused on reflecting the arts and culture identity of the Uptown neighborhood while providing a safe and well-lit space that was easy to maintain, engaging and interactive for the public, and that fit well with its neighborhood context.
In addition to the Seattle Parks Foundation signing on as the project’s fiscal sponsor providing support throughout the course of the work, a SeeYourImpact.com crowdfunding campaign was started to fund the project— everything was welcomed, from volunteer labor to materials and monetary donations. The crowdfunding campaign was a huge success, collecting donations both large and http://stpatricksdayparade.org/best-viagra-prices small from more than 90 community supporters. After a few permitting hurdles were cleared, construction on the parklet began in January, 2015.
With materials and funds donated by local businesses and time and labor donated by Jared Slater, VIA, James Underwood, and Katie Idziorek, construction has been moving along. Working to bring their design to life, the team has been pulling each part of the parklet’s anatomy together one piece at a time. The film reels that accent the railing (donated by SIFF); Uptown’s first Free Little Library; the bike racks (donated by Landscape Forms); the park furniture (which matches nearby Counterbalance Park); and the Walk of Fame, highlighting local donors, are making their way into their final places and will soon be open to the public.
After almost a year of hard work, The Uptown Parklet is slated to open in late February, with a grand opening event on Saturday, February 21 from 1PM to 3PM. The event is set to include Mayor Murray along with members of the Uptown Alliance and the community design groups to welcome the parklet as the sixth completed project of SDOT’s Pilot Parklet Program.
For more event information, project progress photos, and more, visit the Uptown Parklet on Facebook.
Have you ever experienced the excitement that comes from discovering something that used to be almost invisible to you? Then you start to see it everywhere and contemplate its importance?
That’s my story with wayfinding. A TransLink wayfinding project that I began working on at VIA revealed a whole new world to me: the world of wayfinding.
Now, when I think about connected communities and walkable, transit-oriented cities, the picture is not complete, or is rather dysfunctional without wayfinding elements in it– those small organs that make the whole system work the way it is designed to work. We can design cities that are perfectly connected with different modes of transit, and yet, if we fail to assist users in finding their way from Point A to Point B, our system has failed. This layer of information architecture is as important as the orchestration of the rest of the system.
Wayfinding Through Time
For thousands of years, humans have needed to be directed on where they need to go. The concept hasn’t changed, only the techniques and click now the materials used. As we became more civilized and our cities more complicated, so did the need for more sophisticated ways of directing people.
In 1960, urban planner and teacher Kevin Lynch coined the term wayfinding in his landmark book, The Image of the City:
“To become completely lost is perhaps a rather rare experience for most people in the modern city. We are supported by the presence of others and by special way-finding devices: maps, street numbers, route signs, bus placards. But let the mishap of disorientation occur, and the sense of anxiety and even terror that accompanies it reveals to us how closely it is linked to our sense of balance and well-being. The very word “lost” in our language means much more than simple geographical uncertainty; it carries overtones of utter disaster”
Twenty years later Romedi Passini wrote Wayfinding in Architecture. In 1992 he coauthored Wayfinding: People, Signs, and Architecture with Paul Arthur. Edward Tufte’s Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983) and Richard Saul Wurman’s Information Architects (1996) have each greatly influenced the field of wayfinding. Over time, Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) became the preferred umbrella term to describe any communications intended for spatial application, ranging from wayfinding sign programs to branded spaces, exhibitions, and even public art. During the past forty years, as the EGD profession matured, the range of wayfinding projects rapidly expanded. Today, almost every type of public space and most private complexes need a wayfinding scheme. Lynch writes:
“Despite a few remaining puzzles, it now seems unlikely that there is any mystic “instinct” of wayfinding. Rather there is a consistent use and buy levitra in europe organization of definite sensory cues from the external environment”
His research found that people form individually-customized mental maps from the physical world, often based around five elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks to navigate through space. Successful cities have enough of these elements to help people create their own mental map to find their way. Time is an important element in creating one’s mental maps. In cities that are becoming more global, and where people move in and out at such a fast pace, there might not be enough time to create these individually-customized mental maps. We need other tools on which to rely.
Beginning two decades ago, some cities started programs to improve their wayfinding signage systems, and therefore to encourage and support walkability for both residents and tourists. Among these cities are London (Legible London project), Glasgow, Bristol, Philadelphia, New York City, Sydney, Melbourne, Helsinki, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
Wayfinding in Vancouver BC
In anticipation of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the City of Vancouver began to install pedestrian wayfinding map stands to provide walking information for residents and visitors looking for Olympic venues and other destinations. Recognizing the instrumental role of pedestrian wayfinding to promote walkability throughout the City, a pilot wayfinding study was launched in 2012 in partnership with TransLink, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), and the City to test the performance of an integrated system. The pilot focused on updating the existing map stands’ content to provide more consistent, legible, and up-to-date map content that would help pedestrians better understand their environment. The study showed success in increasing pedestrian trips and the City decided to implement the new system city-wide.
To support a seamless wayfinding system, TransLink also started developing a new wayfinding strategy in 2008. Prior to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, TransLink began installing wayfinding prototype products at select SkyTrain stations in Vancouver and Richmond, such as the new “T” sign. Since then, TransLink wayfinding strategy has expanded to include journey planning information walls providing content like “Metro Vancouver Transit,” “Buses From Here,” and “Walking From Here” maps to support the City’s updated wayfinding effort.
Jeff Deby, Wayfinding Planner at TransLink, talks about some of the new ideas in the new TransLink wayfinding strategy in his Pecha Kucha, available at this link.
New strategies include:
An Impressive Example
Harry Beck’s precedent-setting map design for the London Underground, issued in 1933, is a good example of the implementation of the last two strategies. Before him, the various underground lines had been laid out geographically, often superimposed over the roadway of a city map. This meant that the centrally-located stations were shown very close together and the out of town stations spaced far apart.
Beck believed that passengers riding the Underground were not concerned with geographical accuracy, and were more interested in exchanges and how to get from one station to another. He came up with a map where the spaghetti of routes were organized into a system of lines drawn at consistent angles with stations that were more or less equally-spaced.
Future of Wayfinding
One may argue that traditional wayfinding tools – static maps, signage, etc.– will soon become useless in an age where everyone has all the information they may need in their smart gadgets. True– we are living in the Age of Information, and the electronic devices we use are way smarter than our built environment, so more research is needed to envision smarter wayfinding tools– but I would argue there is still so much room both to improve the wayfinding tools that we have and to better integrate them into our built environment. Wayfinding provides us with information, and this information can be better integrated into our spaces. I can think of the Seattle Public Library, which is taking steps toward moving in that direction, but our built spaces in general are not designed with information as a parameter to design around.
Wayfinding, especially in projects where moving users from Point A to Point B is one of the main goals– as in transit infrastructure projects– should be one of the parameters of the design problem from the onset. This would guarantee a seamless, holistic infrastructure at the end; one that works well. Wayfinding dissolves in such projects. As the saying goes: “Good wayfinding strategies tend to remain invisible to our eyes. It is only when wayfinding strategies are not good enough that we notice their existence.”
VIA is seeking a mid-level Transit Architect for our growing San Francisco office.
VIA Architecture is a multi-disciplinary architectural and planning firm of urban strategists creating connected communities. With offices originally in Vancouver and Seattle, we’re now bringing our ability to craft thriving urban places centered around transit and integrative development to San Francisco.
Highly networked across three offices, ours is a highly interactive studio based practice concentrated in urban planning, transit systems planning and http://farawaymac.com/best-way-to-use-viagra design and architecture for urban mixed-use development. Our systems-level sustainable design strategies and community-based design studio set us apart from traditional architectural practice.
About this position
This is your opportunity to make an impact as part of our start-up here in San Francisco while benefiting from the deep intellectual capital, technical resources, and hands-on work-style of a capable mid-size firm. We see this position as a growth opportunity for you to learn the “VIA way” to manage and design transit facilities while moving into increasing project management responsibilities.
Responsibilities (subject to change) will generally be those of a job-captain and initially might include:
Applicants must meet minimum experience and skill qualifications to be considered for this position.
Salary and Benefits
Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Generous benefits are provided to employees and are available for spouses, domestic partners and families, including: medical/dental/vision insurance and retirement funds contribution matching.
How to Apply
VIA is an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, disability, sex, sexual-orientation or gender-identity.
Please submit cover letter, resume and univtube.org work samples in PDF format (no more than 3MB please).
Email with “Transit Architect” in subject line.
Send to: Catherine Calvert, AIA at firstname.lastname@example.org
No phone calls or office visits please.
The dilemma is that although the City of Vancouver and its residents have, in most part, adopted the principles of mobility and growth, the other municipalities of the region have been formulating the right balance of growth and livability.
What is often forgotten is that by densifying the areas near transit, the pressure for growth in existing single family neighbourhoods is lessened. Vancouver is often associated with images of high rise towers but in fact 80% of the City’s residential land area is occupied by single family homes.
The regional cities are wrestling with what it means to be more urban, what the appropriate and authentic form and character should be for their cities, and what the ingredients and the necessary components are to make their cities work successfully.
For these suburban communities to move to a more urban model, it means that residents and businesses are asked to reconsider a vision for growth and livability that is significantly different to the norms that have defined suburban life for six decades: the automobile and the single family home.
At the heart of the potential transportation referendum for these suburban communities, their residents and businesses, is that they are being asked choose to fund transportation initiatives that seem, at first blush, not to support the suburban lifestyle they have chosen. By pitting transit against the car in this discussion, both the suburban and female viagra cream urban ways of living in the region will be undermined. The focus of the discussion has to return to preserving the natural beauty of the region, promoting food independence and water quality, and creating a range of transportation choices that supports a range of housing and employment choices, both urban and suburban.
Vancouver – leading the way in Canadian cities’ transit infrastructure expansion
VIA Architecture was recently invited by CBC-TV to provide comment on the Pembina Institute’s study of transit system in Canada’s major cities. The study highlighted that Vancouver has built the most kilometres of rapid transit over the last 3 decades. But whereas Toronto and Montreal’s 40 year old transit lines provide service within 1 kilometer of more than 30% of the population, less than 20% of Vancouver’s population has the same connectivity. Entering a Municipal election cycle where provincially controlled transportation funding is a key issue, this provided fodder for knee jerk blogging about bloated transit funding not serving the needs of the majority.
Fortunately, in conjunction with our discussions, CBC went deeper into the analysis than that. The Pembina authors had pointed out that in comparing the Cities they used the Metro Vancouver average data to match the scale of regional completeness of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton’s civic borders. Approximately 640,000 of Metro Vancouver’s 2.4 million population live in the City of Vancouver. Using Pembina’s index of transit proximity, 54% of Vancouverites live within the rapid transit walk-shed, but less than 13% of those in the other 20 municipalities do.
Where are we heading now?
Through the joint initiative of the Mayor’s Council for metro Vancouver, TransLink has a plan for rapid transit extension that will be tested by the voters in 2015 in a funding referendum. Amongst its many provisions covering, roads bridge and bus and rx online levitra bike routes, most attention has been focused on Rapid Transit in Vancouver and Surrey.
In Vancouver the plan would see a SkyTrain extension of the Millennium line connect across the inner City to the Central Broadway employment and medi-tech corridor and interconnection with the north- south Canada Line.This extension is generally accepted as requiring an underground subway. With an (interim?) terminus at Arbutus it somewhat addresses the connectivity to the major transit centre of UBC to the west.
Surrey has a larger but much less developed land base, with a population that is expected to match Vancouver‘s in 30 years. Here the plan is to bring 3 LRT lines through the emerging City Centre and connect with each other and the existing SkyTrain line.
The political temptation is to dodge the bullet of large public expenditures and force a choice between the two transit strategies. To the credit of the process to date, there has been a general political acceptance that the whole Transportation funding package (including the Surrey and Vancouver rail transit) should be adopted as a whole. The sniper fighting (which will escalate for both the Civic elections in November and frederik.fi next year’s regional referendum) has tended to be about which form of tax to use, and thereby whose pockets will be targeted more than others.
Views from the past; views from the present
The Pembina study frames the dilemma of transportation as differently seen in mature and emerging urban contexts. In Vancouver, which had a streetcar network a century ago that reached south to Richmond and East to Burnaby, New Westminster, public transit is “Normal”, not “Special Needs”. In the expanding auto-oriented suburbs, particularly Surrey and south of the Fraser River, transit is still seen as a special need for those disadvantaged through not having access to a car.
The tipping point North of the Fraser was the Canada Line. Following the success of mobility throughout the 2010 Olympics, transit related developments have sprung up whose keynote is being “11 minutes from Downtown” etc. This connectivity works both ways, as each transit node becomes a magnet of its own for employment and recreation as well as residence.
Creating urban centres but not downtowns
South of the Fraser does not want to be Downtown Vancouver. But people do increasingly wish for urbanity, both in the array of places to hang out and enjoy food and beverage, shopping and entertainment, as well as to enhance the daily life spent moving between home and work. There is a 21st Century urbanism that needs to be established here, and one that integrates the automobile, whose passengers may turn to using transit in the future, lessening the demands on drivers to drive so much.
The problem is that the bogey man of traffic congestion is seen as caused by urban development, and too often resolution is framed in terms of speeding up traffic rather than creating places closer together than people want to spend more of their time in.
Land use planning in conjunction with transit planning
Transit is about nothing if it is not about the pedestrian and levitra pill where the pedestrian wants to be. Regardless of transportation funding people should be demanding more joy in their daily lives. Some of that joy is having more time to connect with those you care about most, family, friends and colleagues, and the opportunity to move between those environments. At the top of the hierarchy would be being able to walk between one joy and another – life as a village.
Transportation is not this joy but its quality can and must be factored in to the equation. Thus transportation planning is nothing without supportive land use. The marketplace is what determines how land use works. Public leadership and investment can help, but need private investment to follow up. Surrey’s newly relocated City Hall now hopes to engender synergy that the relocation to BC Place’s Downtown Stadium did for Vancouver’s Downtown thirty years ago.
The focus of the suburbs has been on autonomy in daily life, on privacy and individual territory. It was assumed that community life would flourish around the cul-de-sac. This has turned out to not be the case. For several decades the shopping mall became the protective shell for public interaction. But the cul-de-sac and the strip mall discourage casual social encounter and http://www.tenfold.org.uk/canada-cheap-levitra thereby the social richness of our daily errands in the marketplace. The key for the suburbs is multiple urban village centres, and the foregone travel trips that their synergy reduces. Parking is the immediate world of 87% of Metro Vancouver who live outside Vancouver, and it is this world of the suburbs that we have to respect, understand, serve and collaborate to transform this parking, step by walkable step.
To attract the interest of those who live beyond the measure of typical transit accessibility, the coalescing of urbanity around urban village nodes (park once, linger longer, feel happier) is critical. It will be a challenge to secure a positive result from the transportation referendum, but the greater challenge is to frame this path forward not as car vs transit, but as demand for high quality of urban place to reward all those people arriving somewhere in their buses, trains and cars, if not by foot.
For more information:
by Dan Bertolet
It is widely established that concentrating growth near transit is a key strategy for sustainable urban development. Historically, planning for transit station areas has focused on housing rather than employment — when most people think of transit-oriented development, they picture dwellings above street-level retail.
In recent years, however, the value of planning for employment around transit has become increasingly recognized for several reasons. From a practical standpoint, jobs near transit boost ridership and help leverage transit investments. But more importantly, creating a healthy balance between employment and housing is essential for growing a complete community that maximizes opportunities for both residents and workers.
In some station areas the primary need is for new employment that builds upon the assets of the existing community and becomes a source of living-wage jobs for locals. In other cases, the main challenge is to avoid displacement of existing businesses. Industrial jobs are particularly challenging since they can conflict with residential uses, and often rely on the availability of cheap land.
Of course the catch is that there’s no easy formula for bringing high-quality jobs to desired locations. Do innovation districts just happen, or can the public sector help them along? VIA recently engaged in two employment-based planning efforts that illustrate concepts and approaches, as described below.
Seattle’s southernmost Link light-rail station is in Rainier Beach, a highly diverse, relatively low-income neighborhood. Within a quarter-mile of Rainier Beach station are a handful of small businesses, and the housing is mostly single-family. There has been no significant redevelopment near the station since the trains started running in 2009.
The city recently completed a neighborhood plan that focused on opportunities in the station area. During this process, the community consistently expressed a high priority for redevelopment that creates high-quality employment that can improve economic mobility for residents, such as low-impact production, light-industrial, food-processing, education and nauticalprogressions.net incubator businesses.
To address this goal on the regulatory side, the city is developing new zoning that will incentivize educational, industrial and innovative commercial uses while promoting a vibrant, sustainable and levitra generico walkable urban environment. Proposed zoning includes floor area or height bonuses for projects with the employment uses noted above, first-floor minimum height requirements for flexible accommodation of commercial uses and special allowances for loading.
With easy access to the industrial corridor that extends south from the Duwamish, Interstate 5, Sea-Tac Airport and downtown Seattle via light rail, as well as relatively low land costs, Rainier Beach is well situated for many types of innovative business pursuits. However, stakeholders also recognized the need to start with a specific sector that could leverage existing community assets for competitive advantage over surrounding areas, and the idea of a food innovation district rose to the top.
Rainier Beach is home to Seattle’s largest urban farm, and its diverse population provides a wealth of ethnic food knowledge. These assets provide a unique opportunity to leverage its light-industrial zone to become a hub of food and agricultural production, combining educational and training facilities with processing and distribution.
To catalyze the growth of a food innovation district, the planning team proposed an opportunity center for food education and entrepreneurship. This facility would combine commercial and training kitchen facilities, classroom space, office space, meeting areas, computer lab and community gathering space.
The city convened a workshop to gather input from potential partners and users of such a facility, including Seattle Tilth, the Emergency Feeding Program, Rainier Valley Food Bank, Project Feast and Fare Start, as well as the Seattle community colleges, Renton Technical College and Bainbridge Graduate Institute.
Input from the workshop led to a prototype building design. Unfortunately, the Rainier Beach station area lacks any existing building stock suitable to be adapted for the center, so new construction will be required. The next steps to implementing the center involve establishing partners, developing a business plan and space programming, securing a site and financing, construction, and lastly, operating the facility.
The Portland-Milwaukie light-rail extension, due to open in 2015, will have two stations in Southeast Portland’s Central Eastside, one of the city’s most important and dynamic industrial and employment centers. To address this unique environment, the city and its consultant team have been developing a new model for station area planning known as employment transit-oriented development, or ETOD.
The overall goal of the city’s ETOD approach is to strategically intensify and diversify the range of commercial uses on industrial lands, with the primary intent of increasing jobs, but also to leverage transit investments. At the same time, the city is intent on controlling land speculation, since high costs tend to push out many of the desired businesses. While there is already streetcar service in the Central Eastside, it is not another Pearl District, nor does the city want it to be.
A key strategy will be to reduce conflicts between the Central Eastside’s long-established businesses such as lumber and mill works, a dairy, and boat repair, while also welcoming an increasing number of new small, nimble technology and production companies that value a close-in location. These “makers” are seen as an important next generation of commercial enterprise whose employees are likely to bike commute and patronize the small-scale restaurants, bars and lunch spots that have begun to populate the area.
Another important piece of the ETOD puzzle is an intensification of land use in buildings that blend industrial and production uses on the ground floor with flexible office spaces on multiple floors above. The goal is buildings that can provide a delicate balance between a diversity of new businesses, and an industrial core of users that rely on lower land values to stay in business.
This configuration is already beginning to emerge in the Central Eastside, and one of the best examples is the newly constructed Pitman Building, with 11,000 square feet of space for six production kitchens on the first floor and 3,000 square feet of office space on the second floor. The area’s supply of historic buildings is also an asset, as exemplified in the recently renovated Ford Building, a former Model T assembly plant that now houses office, retail, artist studios, and a variety of small, creative businesses.
The role of partnerships
Lastly, partnerships between large institutions and the private sector are an essential ingredient for catalyzing true innovation districts. With the goal of creating an environment suitable for 21st century industry and http://lovelovefilms.com/viagra-tablets-for-sale providing meaningful occupation, many cities are establishing collaborations with universities that have a technical research and innovation focus.
For example, New York City has established a collaboration called Cornell NYC Tech, with Cornell, Teknion (an Israeli technical university) and Google. In Portland, there is a huge opportunity to tap into the synergies between the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, the burgeoning “makers” industry, and/or a corporate giant such as Nike.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry owns significant riverfront property adjacent to future light rail, and has great potential to leverage its location at a regional transit gateway and bring culture and complementary employment to the Central Eastside. In this case, the most advantageous outcome may be a new large tenant that would both benefit from and contribute to new synergies with existing business clusters.
Note: This post originally appeared in the Daily Journal of Commerce.
By Brendan Hurley
VIA Architecture is proud to have participated in the City of Surrey’s 2014 PARKit Design Challenge. A team of VIA designers presented ‘PalleTopia’, a design to use stacked reusable pallets as modules to create a playful and multi-functional space right next to the entrance of Surrey Central Station. This endeavour was part of a public call for the design and installation of a $15,000 summer season pop-up park. PalleTopia, designed by Zhaleh Moulaei, Sophie Steer and Brendan Hurley was granted Honourable Mention amongst all of the submissions received by the City. Exercises carried out within the VIA Office in Vancouver helped develop a vision for the mini-parkit as a simultaneous node, stage and http://slaauk.org/w2/viagra-without-perscription gateway to create a place that comfortably and elegantly connects the people of Surrey with their urban centre and to each other.
This spring’s opening of Surrey’s new City Hall right next to rapid transit marks a turning point for the City’s transformation from suburb to city. It is now centred with a transit connected central business district and civic heart for its 500,000+ residents. The area around Surrey Central Station now becomes a central node in a new and future axis of the City’s core. It is a crossroads of moving people (through transit), moving commerce (with a renovated retail mall) and moving minds (with the Simon Fraser University campus and recently built public library). Yet, this site has great potential to allow people to connect in a more meaningful way. The ParkIt under the guideway of the SkyTrain will help making a more visually special place that clearly stitches the elements of the Central City.
For this year’s challenge, the VIA Team’s goals in these design elements was to enhance the power of this place to facilitate connective community in Surrey’s core and to make this place special for visitors and http://acxit.com/cialis-legal passers-by alike. Our design presented a porous space made with stacked pallet modules. Dubbed ‘PalleTopia’, the pixelated modules rise, fall and disappear to create a plethora of social spaces, resting places and passageways. Shipping pallets were chosen as the base material to reduce environmental impacts and costs, and their design was specifically tailored so it would maximize the reusability of the pallets when they were returned to industrial circulation. A smooth wood surface would provide comfortable seating and staging on top of these more industrial wooden bases. The stacks rise to a crescendo on the northwest corner to, not only, act as a buffer and refuge from the transit centre’s noisy bus loop, but also to create a vibrantly coloured visual signifier to mark entrance into a special space.
The VIA team salutes the many other participants of this challenge, who, by contributing to this site with their creativity and ideas, have increased the likelihood of this central place to coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts… a brighter more connective new urban core for Surrey. The top honours go to ‘Gingham Style’, a submission by Liz Nguyen and Mike Wartman that evokes and was inspired by the archetypal gingham checker-pattern of a picnic blanket. Congratulations all for your efforts and thinking on this space and we hope to join you in enjoying and celebrating this renewed urban space as it continues to evolve and develop.
There’s a new type of space coming to Seattle – it’s tiny, but packed within its small stature are all kinds of good qualities. Residents are reclaiming the public right-of-way (i.e. roadway), traditionally taken-up by parked cars, for open and green space. It’s called a parklet and like the name suggests, the easiest way to describe them is as “mini open space.” And yet that term just doesn’t quite capture the breadth and beauty of these little spaces because they’re so much more than a plaza or patch of green space. Read the full article on CapitolHillSeattle.com by clicking here If you want to learn more about Seattle’s pilot program or get involved in one of the 13 parklets already being planned, consider checking out SDOT’s project website. And remember, these little parklets are being funded completely by our communities, businesses, and neighborhood organizations so if you’re short on time but still want to support the mission of these little gems, you can always help by donating! If you’d like to contribute to the 25th & Union Parklet, you can do so at this parklet’s online Crowdrise campaign.
On Sunday May 4th, planners and architects from VIA kicked off the 2014 Jane’s Walk with a twist: our “walk” included transit, which is an integral part of the history and future of development in Vancouver. Our 2.5-hour-long urban exploration covered more than 44 km (27.5 mi) of Vancouver’s urban development context and history by including a ride on the SkyTrain.
The intent of the Jane’s Walk is to celebrate the life and works of urban thinker and activist Jane Jacobs by presenting free community tours that examine elements of what makes a city work. Our tour focused on building and enhancing walkable, connected communities by viewing transit as an extension of being a pedestrian. It revolved around the past, present, and future of transit-defined visions of the Vancouver region and its neighbourhoods.
An Ongoing Tradition of Rapid Transit
The tour covered a lot of ground AND track, but followed the historic path of transit in Vancouver. We started on the Expo Line, the oldest line of the SkyTrain rapid transit system, where portions of it followed the path of the Central Park Interurban Line that ran from 1890 until the 1950s, connecting downtown Vancouver with New Westminster. In some places, evidence of the system of 120 years ago is still exposed below the pillars of SkyTrain. The modern system is a dream of a region-connecting “people mover”—part of the legacy of the 1986 World Exposition.
As a group, we discussed that there was an intentional experiment in common sense when the Vancouver region developed a plan to intensify “town centres” around stations in the 1970s. With the construction of the Evergreen Line and the completion of the Canada Line, we are now reaching a vision of a fully connected network, however there are emerging challenges. Updating and maintaining the Expo Line as it approaches its 30-year mark while keeping it running is one of these challenges, currently addressed by projects including the VIA-led Main Street and Metrotown Station upgrades.
A Continuum of Transit Development
The impacts of thoughtful and integrated design have shaped neighbourhoods and the activity of the City as a whole. Our walk yielded a lot of conversation about the changing nature of transit-oriented development. Transit infrastructure has created new ways of experiencing and building the City, which planners and builders have adapted to. Developments are now doing their best to be incorporated into the station areas and the system itself—a tight integration of buildings, people, and activity. For example, at New Westminster Station, housing towers and retail spaces share the land and rights of way with the rail transit, allowing people to move, live, shop, eat, and play in the same place. The mall at Brentwood Town Centre is undergoing renovation to re-orient its retail layout as urban fabric and development to focus on the station and place itself as a powerful core for its neighbourhood.
The expansion of transit in the Vancouver region has strong roots and aspirations. The network is a result of visions that were produced because of a change in ideas about how the City worked: a region that revolted against freeways and grasped a future that connected and moved people through an ever-improving and expanding network. It is a system where transit has been a tool to integrate the lives and reach of the pedestrian. It is a pump to inject characters onto the stage of what Jane Jacobs called the “sidewalk ballet.” A ballet where we hope to find ourselves and our future on the walk home from the train.