Urban Design mistakes and shortcomings

Marpole Safeway frontage on Granville Street
It’s worth reflecting on some of the Urban Design mistakes made in Vancouver over the recent years. Perhaps the same mistakes won’t be made over and over again. Pictured above is the recently completed Safeway on Granville and West 70th Avenue. This is a very bleak and stark building face. We can do better.

The Telus Garden Telus Garden overhangoffice building on West Georgia has two boxes overhanging the streets on either side (Richards and Seymour). The street end views along both of these streets are significantly impacted.

This intervention into air space above downtown streets is criticized by a past planning director in the following letter: “Is anyone else concerned?” message circulating from Ray Spaxman, esteemed former Director of Planning, Vancouver.

Another major Urban Design blunder was to approve a new tower and podium at 1305 Burrard Street,  at the site of the former Commercial Electronics store. The marketing for the site blacked out the context. Amacon’s 17-storey tower and 8-storey “podium” is surrounded by highrises. There’s only a small gap between the tower to the west and the “podium”:

Tower separation at 1305 Burrard

Several photos of these three examples are included below:

Telus Garden Telus Garden

Telus Garden

1305 Burrard surrounded by towers

Granville Street near 70th

There are other examples of poor urban design. Note the close promixity of the highrises that are under construction at Main and East 1st Avenue:

Main and 1st

The street end view of English Bay was blocked by the construction of a Cactus Club restaurant; the view along Denman Street had been previously unobstructed:

Cactus Club blocks view
Cactus Club under construction (2011)

Update: We received the following links to two tweets by @lavrys:

2 thoughts on “Urban Design mistakes and shortcomings

  1. My two nomimees (from the top of my head) are:
    1) The monolithic, sterile and sidewalk-less monstrosities on Kingsway & Nanaimo: http://t.co/EnT2O9kKtG
    The “El Dorado” – for the developer, no doubt, at that FSR! If one places a single chair on the tiny sidewalk, I bet your feet would be in the street.
    2) The hospital-looking pre-fabricated, soviet-architecture of the new low-income housing in the LIttle Mountain site: http://t.co/Hj8dW32iFs
    Likely valued in their deal with BC Housing at $600/ft, even though it is probably the only building in the last 30 years without underground parking – they just paved about an acre of greenspace next to it..

    • I second the terrible sidewalk in front of the El Dorado! They put in street trees of a caliper so small they are nearly invisible – of the 6, 2 have been chopped down (stumps left) and not replaced, 1 is standing dead, another looks like it has a fatal crack in its trunk. Good work there! East Vancouver – prime location for dumping density/towers and making off with CACs to be used elsewhere…

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