This week the Illustrated Vancouver blog posted an artist's vision of the Museum of Vancouver building from 1966. Of course when it actually opened in 1968, the museum looked just a little bit different. Unsurprisingly, Vancouver's landscape of shifting expectations is no less visible today. If we look around the city we can find plenty of predictions that haven't turned out quite as we'd anticipated. Read on for some contemporary adjustments to how we might be living, shopping, and doing business in the future.
This week's MOVments is examining the multiple, overlapping geographies that affect how we think about the city and how we situating ourselves within it. Read on to find out about the Museum of Vancouver's position in a shifting urban landscape, the geo-political perspectives that are influencing the shark-fin soup debate, the city across the sea that is giving Vancouver a run for its money, and the city-within-a-city that might be popping up near you.
At the MOVeum:
November 8 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution "Rescale" with John Robinson & Sadhu Johnston
November 11 - SALA SPEAKS @MOV: Hallucinating in Public
November 18 - SALA SPEAKS @MOV: In Praise of Ambiguity
November 28 - Evolving Geographies of Immigration in Vancouver: History and Horizons
[Image: Planetarium, 1971. Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives, 2010-006.192]
This week we're getting liminal, exploring the edges of what we consider public and private, indoor and outdoor, and social and solitary. From the Great White Urinal, rooftop (and indoor) gardens, and designs for more social living, this instalment of MOVments is playing and engaging with Vancouver's in-between spaces.
Great White Landmark. Since the early 1970s, the corner of Granville and Georgia has been dominated by what some claim to be the "ugliest building" in downtown Vancouver (nicknamed the Great White Urinal for its large, white, windowless exterior). But not any longer. The plans for a new building designed by James Cheng were revealed yesterday. The new development will see Sears leave its long time home and a new Nordstrom's department store open in the heart of the city. Some city planners are hoping that the modern, glass building will help connect the feel and aesthetic of Robson Street, Robson Square, and the Vancouver Art Gallery to the rest of the downtown core. As architect Michael Heeney told the Globe and Mail, "One of the reasons Robson dissipates and loses its energy is because of that block."
Gardens in the Sky. Another new addition to downtown Vancouver? The first "urban vertical urban farm" in North America. Alterrus Systems is building a garden that will run on hydroponic technology and is expected to produce more than 150,000 pounds of leafy green vegetables and herbs annually. And yet another leafy answer to Vancouver's density dilemmas? Gorgeous rooftop flower gardens like this one featured in Forbes magazine. The owner of the house, Nick Kerchum seems like he has the right idea when it comes to gardening: his flowers are completely self-sufficient, and don't need to be watered or pruned.
Growing Up, Growing Together. In response to a recent Vancouver Foundation survey that looked at the increasing loneliness and isolation felt by many Vancouverites, architects Bing Thom, Michael Heeney, and Andy Yan, have written a manifesto that calls for more community-oriented urban planning in our city. Their piece is chalk full of quotable quotes around the need for creative responses to our evolving skyline: "Higher density residential living is ultimately unsustainable if the end result is simply the construction of gated vertical suburban communities in the sky." And the shortage of public spaces that encourage dialogue and promote comfortable interactions between strangers is an undercurrent throughout. Drawing an intriguing parallel, Thom, Heeney, and Yan bring attention to the in-between spaces that may need some tweaking, "Before (and probably long after) Facebook and Twitter, public spaces and streets were the original social network and, once in a while, this network could use some upgrading." On the other hand, sharing space on the streets may take some getting used to, as illustrated by this little story about recent food cart feuding.
Business Time. And lastly, Toby Barazzuol, chair of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association and upcoming Interesting Vancouver speaker, explores the intersections between business and community development in this fantastic opinion piece from the Vancouver Sun.
At the MOVeum:
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold
[Image: 700 Granville Street, west side, 1981. City of Vancouver photo, CVA 779-W02.16]
Vancouver is changing and growing so fast that, as Gordon Price reports, its newest neighbourhood doesn't even have a name yet. But if we look closely, we can see that a lot of our old ideas and landscapes are actually being repurposed, redesigned, and redefined. This week's MOVments explores the ways Vancouverites are reusing old spaces, re-imagining affordable housing and urban planning, and putting a new spin on a time-honored tradition: the business lunch.
Redefining Growth. Much to our delight, SOLEfood, Vancouver's largest urban farm, has outgrown its first home in a parking lot on East Hastings. Using a social enterprise model and employing over 20 people from the Downtown Eastside, the urban farm just opened its second location under the Georgia Street viaduct. As The Tyee explains much of SOLEfood's success has come from from garnering community support; the farm has received multiple grants, help from local business owners, and a free three-year lease for its new spot on Pacific Boulevard.
Video Stores Live. With the demise of big-chain stores like Blockbuster and Rogers, They Live (formerly Cinephile) is one of a handful of independent video rental shops in Vancouver that is still making a go of it in an increasingly Internet-dominated business. Like Black Dog and Limelight Video, They Live is filling a niche, catering to those who are searching for hard to find titles and a little personal interaction. And as with other local businesses and art spaces, diversification is the name of the game; They Live will also be offering live music and film screenings.
Rethinking Homelessness. In the midst of so much change, UN representative Miloon Kothari says one thing has stayed pretty much the same since his last visit to Vancouver in 2007: the city's affordable housing crisis. In his interview with The Tyee, Kothari gave a sobering account of the crisis, which he says is caused in part by too much emphasis on market solutions. He suggests that it's time to completely re-frame the housing issue: "What you see in Canada and what you see in the United States is that housing is seen as a commodity and not as a social good. If it's treated as a social good, then the whole thinking will change."
Shifting Planning Policy. Judging from our situation in Vancouver, it looks like the new generation of Canadian urban planners have quite a task ahead of them. This fascinating Globe and Mail article explores the shifts currently taking place in urban planning policy and power assignment. While cities across the country face diverse challenges, Vancouver's former co-planning director, Larry Beasley, is excited at the prospect of a new generation of Canadian urban planners taking on roles as visionaries and risk takers.
The Evolution of Lunch. And finally, on a lighter note: the Vancouver Public Space Network and Space2Place are co-hosting communal outdoor lunches every Thursday this month. Long cafeteria tables, food specials from local vendors, and musical entertainment are making Abbott Street the place to be for an afternoon meal, whether you work in the area or not.
At the MOVeum:
August 18 - MEMBERS ONLY Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers
[New SOLEfood location on Pacific Boulevard. Photo by David Niddrie]
This week MOVments gets messy. From dirty history to density wars, we've rounded up some of the complicated stories that make Vancouver so interesting. Read on for the nitty-gritty on Vancouver tourism, plywood protests, high-rise politics, and the logistics of bike sharing.
Vancouver's messy past. For many, Vancouver’s historical walking tours are how they come to know our city. Unsurprisingly, these tours often choose to focus on positive, uncomplicated aspects of Vancouver's past. Chances are if you take a city tour of Vancouver you won't be hearing much about the Komagata Maru or the 1907 Race Riots. In contrast, local tour guide, Jessica O'Neill, encourages tour-takers to tackle these difficult histories and argues that they make for more accurate, and ultimately more compelling tours.
The writing on the (plywood) wall(s). In a bit of synchronicity, plywood boards have recently gone up at the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, just as MOV unveils its exhibit of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot boards. Scrawling comments like "Trading dollars for lives" on the plywood boards outside the Kitsilano office, locals have been expressing their outrage at the federal government's money-saving decision to close the search-and-rescue station.
Tower power. Are high-rise developments the solution to Vancouver's sky-rocketing real-estate prices? Harvard professor Edward Glaeser says yes. His main argument: building more high-density residences will ease the gentrification of middle-income neighbourhoods and decrease suburban sprawl. Sounds simple, but as we know, the reality is anything but. For more on this issue, read about former-mayor Sam Sullivan's new found respect for Vancouver's glass towers.
The politics of sharing. As we wait to hear who wins the bid to implement the city’s bike sharing system, Vancouverites are thinking about the dirty business of sharing bike helmets. In a city with a mandatory helmet law, some argue that the idea of sharing sweaty, germy helmets is what will doom the project to failure. Meanwhile over in Montreal, an independent helmet advocate is loaning and disinfecting helmets for free for BIXI users.
At the MOVeum:
June 15 - Is This Vancouver? Reflections on the 2011 Hockey Riot Boards
June 19 - Jane’s Walk Recap and Dialogue
[Image: Plywood boards outside the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Photo by Clive Camm]
Olympic Village. This week the City of Vancouver finally released it’s projections as to it’s financial losses resulting from the Olympic Village. However, while they have stated that actual losses will be $40-50 million, there are reasons for doubt, as the amount doesn’t include things such as the cost of the purchase of the land. Frances Bula has stated her concerns about the way that the numbers were presented to the press, and their accuracy. They are not considering a property tax increase at this time.
Public protest. The bylaw proposed last week that would ban all permanent structures built by protest groups on public property has been rewritten to allow protests outside consulates after heavy criticism that it specifically targeted Falun Gong protestors outside the Chinese consulate and concerns about freedom of speech.
Insite. Research results show that since the opening of Insite, deaths related to drug-overdose have decreased substantially in the Downtown East Side.
Save-on-Meats. An inside look and a lot of pictures of the renovations at Save-on-Meats and some of the exciting things planned for the space.
Rapid transit. An overview of the different proposals for rapid transit along Broadway to UBC.
Viaducts. Stephen Rees takes a close-up look at the land underneath the viaducts, and just how underutilized it is.
Sprawl. After taking possession of their treaty land, we get a first glimpse of what Tswassen First Nation has planned for it: a massive mall, larger than Metrotown and lots of low-density housing.
125 places. Vancouver Heritage Foundation has shortlisted 200 sites as it searches for 125 places that matter most to Vancouverites.
Image: unk’s dump truck via flickr.