York Urbanist

Archive for September, 2012

Toronto Architecture is Growing up

September 25th, 2012
Urban Design

I have been long stating that the architecture of the City of Toronto will leave the 2010′s as the era of glass reflective boxes. The Huffington Post Article lends new hope. But note that it is the Marilyn Monroe building of Mississauga that takes the number one position. On another note, Vaughan is not mentioned. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/24/coolest-condos-toronto-condo-bubble_n_1910559.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008#slide=1561732

National Forest Week

September 25th, 2012

When most of the population of Canada lives in the urban centres, it takes a special week to remind us that there much of Canada is forested  http://www.oforest.ca/index.php/nfw

Ped X-ing

September 24th, 2012
Pedestrianization, Urban Design

I was asked, as part of a city’s pedestrian trails system, if zebra stripes should be integrated into the streets. After all, they had been using only two stripes perpendicular to traffic flow always before.  They also had that double stripe design engrained into their engineering standards (which we all know are unchangeable). With the retirement of the engineering director in charge of standards, the time was ripe to modify the standards to zebras.

What if there was more out of the box considerations? Themed to the city, such as the piano keys of Vienna; or, visually triggered such as the 3D optics in China.

What theme would your City use?

Atlanta: Coke bottles on their side…

Calgary: Cowboy hats….

Hollywood: Oscar statues….

Kleinburg, Ontario: bales of bindertwine….


See http://yorkurbanist.com/2012/09/pedestrian-integrated-streets/ where pedestrian crossings will never be needed if the streets are creatively designed and modes of travel integrated.

Pedestrian (Integrated) Streets

September 24th, 2012
Pedestrianization, Urban Design

Kleinburg’s Nashville Road and Islington Avenue suffer morning and evening congestion due to its being a short route north-south. Streetscape plans were created to beautify the village core. But what would happen if congestion was increased? This could be a good change!

Pedestrian priority streets would do that. The benefits?
Bypass: Through traffic, disrupted by congestion would bypass the village core. Those who know the village will make it a destination.
Safety: Make the village pavement all the same from storefront to storefront. Add planters, benches, limited signage and free up the streets for pedestrians first. Vehicles will be forced to move slowly through the space, making safety implicit and not required to be enforced.
Uniqueness: Vaughan and the GTA have no such opportunities for pedestrian streets, unless, like parts of Yonge Street in the summer, sections are closed. This should be a year round phenomenon and Kleinburg is ripe to such change.

An Integrated Street report for Switzerland can be found at http://www.pedestrians-int.org/content/33/6ped-pri.pdf . See photos attached from that report. There are many more examples.

In this example, the street was paved with a rubberized surface, a flexible pavement that can be snow plowed.  In fact, the pavement is not the essence for success of this Integrated Street.  The continuous and consistent pavement could be unit pavers, concrete or asphalt.  The signal to drivers and pedestrians is that everyone mixes here. Slow down, stop, and enjoy village environment. Less expensive than typical street cross-sections, Safe and Unique.

An Idea Unleashed

September 6th, 2012
Trails, Urban Design

I engaged with the OnTrack board of directors last night at their public meeting in St. Thomas, Ontario to unleash to the public their idea for an elevated park on the elevated and abandonned trestle bridge in the city. This bold initiative will move forward once they have raised $250,000 by December 7, 2012. This is when the option to buy closes. The endeavour is more than a bridge reuse, more than a trail, but a community building project that has the potential to bring the city international acclaim.
Matt Janes, Ed Vandermaarel and Serge Lavoie made an eloquent presentation to well over 100 persons present. The show was further enhanced by an impassioned, if unexpected, plea by a sixteen year-old young lady who wants this project to work for the community. St. Thomas has a recent successful history for community projects that reinforce its title as the “Railway Capital of Canada” . This project to create a park on the Trestle Bridge will put St. Thomas on the map, not just a directional sign on Hwy 401.
Matt Janes sited Goderich and St. Mary’s as examples of community renovated bridge projects. But this project goes further, more in the vein of New York’s High Line, described by Ed Vandermaarel and in this article – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/opinion/a-high-line-thats-good-for-new-york.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1346943910-EboCyr96EV+8SVIsmLGOmA .

Watch my website and this website, http://www.ontrackstthomas.ca/ as they “Track” the progress of this soon to be international phenomenon and an example of excellence in urban design.

Urbanism Misinterpreted

September 6th, 2012
Urban Design

http://www.dezeen.com/2012/09/06/towers-with-unfortunate-likenesses/ What were they thinking? Dezeen Magazine picked up on the unfortunate interpretations of buildings that seem to have been driven deep into design. The Designers appear to have overlooked the obvious.

Interesting reading.