York Urbanist

Archive for April, 2012

How tall?

April 30th, 2012
Urban Design

Are the buildings now for benefit of ego or intensification? http://www.ctbuh.org/TallBuildings/HeightStatistics/AnnualBuildingReview/Trendsof2011/tabid/3040/language/en-US/Default.aspx

An interesting concept that tries to validate the height is a garden in Shenzhen’s Kingkey 100

International Waterfronts – Port of Spain, Trinidad

April 23rd, 2012
Urban Design, Waterfront

Port of Spain, Trinidad

Water’s Edge: Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Paria; Caroni Swamp; St. Ann`s River and mangroves filled and reclaimed

History: Spanish, British then US navy; fishing

Current Use: harbour; tourist

Current planning: Trinidad is allowing waterfront development to proceed relatively unfettered.
this Youtube profile shows that architecture is allowed to be distinguished while the people places remain poorly designed and fear inspiring. The space between buildings and water is confined and the city misses the opportunity to revegetate. Few places in the city are friendly but the less than generous spaces of the water’s edge are not inspiring to change a tourist’s feelings of safety. Carnival is played out on the streets in January-February. But there is a lost opportunity to develop the waterfront for the event.  What the city does well is provision for ocean going ships. The port has generous docking, providing employment to the local economy.  Unless you are cargo on a ship, there is little reason to visit the Port of Spain.

The water's edge is behind buildings.

Landscape Architects

April 18th, 2012
Landscape Architecture


Never better said.

Birders can be detrimental to Birds

April 18th, 2012
Healthy Communities, Trails

Last night’s Humber Valley Heritage Trail Association invited Mark Stabb of the Nature Conservancy of Canada to speak. He said many things, but one caught my attention.
He talked of the symbiotic relationship of woodpeckers and owls and nuthatches. Birders are in awe of these largish and rare birds…so much so that they tell their birder friends who tell their birder friends, and so on. This hotline results in multitudes of tilly hats and binocular bearing well-wishers. This in turn discourages the nesting of the very birds they come to see. Point Pelee has become such a flashpoint as hordes of humanity descend there to get their rush in migratory season.
Do we need to save the forests or create the forests (urban forests)? Create the forests for new habitat and maybe the birders will stay closer to home. Who’d have thought that birders could be considered such a vitriolic group.

“Stress That Doesn’t Pay: The Commuting Paradox,”

April 11th, 2012

Here is a quote from http://www.wheels.ca/columns/article/806172 Wheels of The Star: “Drive-commuting (as opposed to bus- or train- commuting) does take a real toll. Navigating stop-and-go traffic, sitting in uncomfortable positions, absorbing the toxic output of cars physically and their angry, aggressive drivers emotionally — all of this has a cost.”

Glad to have left my commuting behind as it was elongating. The urban fabric must recognize the commuting paradox – intensify and create mixed use communities. We will not be able to afford the cost in dollars and environment.

Community Planning

April 10th, 2012

There are some things that urban designers cannot plan. Just received my copy of The Spirit, a Kleinburg community newsletter. Spring has brought out activities in all facets of the village – tennis opening; trail hikes; McMichael gallery; plant sales; the list goes on.

What Urban Designers can do is provide the opportunities for such community occurences. Usually our designs build on already existing programs. Excellent designers anticipate what could happen and accommodate such potential in their land use planning and public space design.
The Spirit can be found on www.KARA-Inc.ca.